sigh …and one more annoying viewpoint from a person diagnosed with a mental illness.
Mental illness doesn’t go away.
It cannot be thought, ignored, denied, medicated, or talked away. If you have a diagnosed mental illness, learning how to live with it is how to survive. The manner in which we do this is personal, and will be different for each person.
Many depressed people understand that the past is just that. We learn–we move on. There are some who remain stuck in the past. They had hard lives and end up with such poor self-esteem, confidence, or worthlessness, that they become depressed. Maybe they simply have brains that don’t function properly.
There are also many who have had hard lives, who move on and thrive–with no mental illness diagnosis.
My parents had 4 kids. My brother was the oldest, and I was the oldest of the girls. My brother, and the sister who was three years younger than I, lived with Type I Juvenile Diabetes. That means they had it as pre-teens. As much as they would have liked to choose to live free of diabetes, they were denied that choice.
My youngest sister has been living with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis for over 30 years. She had thyroid cancer, and has been in remission for over 15 years. I’m sure if she had a choice, this is not what she would have chosen. She can’t simply think positive thoughts and all the damaged nerve endings will magically heal.
Both of my sisters lived through the same family losses that I did. My youngest sister has moved various places when her husband was in the Coast Guard. She moved from coast to coast and back. They adjusted. My other sister remained in the area we grew up.
The only difference – or rather experience – my youngest sister and I have lived through that my other two siblings didn’t, is the loss of our sister.
We all grew up in the same environment, with the same parents. Three of us were normal, one of us was not.
My brother and sister didn’t have any outward evidence of type 1 diabetes. Nope, they laughed and lived. Neither of them suffered from depression.
My youngest sister can no longer hide her MS, because it is one of those nasty neurological diseases which are hard to hide. She laughs and lives. She doesn’t suffer from depression. Don’t get me wrong–just as any normal, she has rough days of mental struggle due to constant pain and frustration.
The bullying I received as a kid, the family losses, the major life changes, the cancer diagnosis—didn’t cause my depression. The events didn’t help any, but even if I hadn’t had so much happen in such a relatively short period of time, I would still have a diagnosis of mental illness. The difficulty I encountered in the last year or so, was comprehending all of it before I crashed once again.
If my dad, sister, brother, grandparents, a couple of furkids were alive, I would still suffer from depression.
If we hadn’t moved from the Pacific Northwest to the Southern States, I would still suffer from depression.
If I had never been diagnosed with cancer, I would still suffer from depression.
When participating in a group photography seminar or photo walk, not a single person knows I suffer from a mental illness. I can knit with some friends, and not a single one of them knows I suffer from a mental illness.
It does make it harder to have close friends, because the person would have to know about my disease, as well as accept me in spite of it. Creating excuses other than I just don’t feel like it, can make things rather difficult during developing friendships.
I laugh, smile, pretend, and tell jokes. I move around a so-so portion of the time, and hide my disease because it isn’t noticeable on the outside.
I can do that, and nobody knows what is going on inside my mind.
What I can’t choose is whether or not I will have another depressive episode. No matter how many beautiful birds I see and listen to their beautiful songs, no matter how many cat snuggles, bowls of ice cream, or sunny days—if depression is going to strike, I don’t have a choice.
I’m hoping to learn to recognize when I feel myself lose my mojo, and maybe find a possible way in which I can continue to function while pretending nothing is wrong with me. In other words, I will get up and live my life until I feel better.
I can choose to refrain from dwelling on my losses and the fear of what I fear, but I can’t choose to simply think away depression.
Again, if I HAD a choice—why in the heck would I choose to be depressed?.
How is it so hard to convey that the choice is denied us?
Let me turn it around for you normals—if we can choose to be positive, can we choose to be depressed? Clinically depressed?