Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Unwelcome Visitor


The unwelcome visitor I hear you say...no I'm not talking about your Auntie Maud who smells of mothballs and lavender and really should get that mole on her chin removed.  I'm talking about the most unwelcome visitor of all....depression.

Some people never suffer from depression and if they do they just shrug their shoulders and give themselves a mental talking to and move on.  For the rest of us...it's not that easy.

We muddle through, we smile and we joke, and the game face is securely on so no one will see that inside we are broken.  We have to carry on, we have children, jobs, lives to attempt to live...but there reaches a point where you just can't do it anymore, and even you can see the cracks beginning to appear in that carefully sculpted mask.

People who have never suffered from depression, and I don't just mean you wake up in a bad mood and by your 10.30am cup of coffee all is right with the world again; I mean heart-wrenching, soul-destroying panic and the mire of darkness you can't seem to get out of.  I mean the kind that when your friend says, "have a good cry, you'll feel better," it's hard to make her understand that you are too terrified to cry in case you never stop.  I've heard the expressions; attention-seeking, drama queen, lazy, just pull your socks up for heaven's sake, and more of the same, from people who make you feel like you are completely insane for feeling this way and that it's all in your head and you're just making it up.  These are the sort of people who stand and stare when you say you've decided to get help.  Because they have no idea what it means to be struck down with this illness.

And it is an illness.  It's a chemical imbalance in the brain that can attack anyone, at any time.  Some are lucky enough to be able to pull themselves out of the swamp of emotion they find themselves in, but most are not and it is through a lack of understanding on other people's part, that they don't seek the help they need.  They consider it weak.  They think that maybe they are making it up, that it is all in their head and they are just seeking a bit of attention.

Been there, done that.

But it's not weak to seek help.  It takes courage and strength and determination to stand up and say, please help me...I can't do this by myself.  I did, and if you are suffering at the moment, or know anyone who is, I hope that maybe something I said here has made you think..."I can get the help I need."  Or "Oh God, I need to help her/him find the strength to get the help she/he needs."

Just remember one thing, anyone in their cosy little bubble who thinks it will never happen to them and that depression is just a ruse to sit on your arse all day....

Depression is an ILLNESS.  It doesn't care who you are, male or female, young or old, black or white.  It grabs hold of you out of nowhere and hangs on tight because it thinks you're weak, it thinks it can take you down.  But it can't - not if you stand up and say "I will beat this.  I will accept the help there is available to me, be it psychological or pharmeceutical.  It won't keep me from achieving my dreams."

So my final word is to Depression itself - I am stronger than you, I am better than you and you can just FUCK OFF!

20 comments:

  1. my father suffered as as manic/depressive his entire life. he would go on and off his meds as an adult, claiming he "didn't need it" then end up in the hospital, completely debilitated by his illness. I lived it with him, we all did. When I started experiencing my own symptoms as a young adult I called him first. We had a long talk. He told me with absolute certainty that medical and therapeutic intervention is the only way to get through it. There is no way to do it alone. I married a man who didn't "believe" in a need for therapies. I thought I could get through whatever my issues were based on his strength alone. We were both wrong, and now accept the reality of my chemical imbalance that at times finds me a whirling dervish of housework/laundry/organization and writing and at others crouched on the couch, staring at the wall. Anyone who knows anything about this should get professional help. You wouldn't let your diabetes go un-medicated would you? brave you for telling us about this. kudos and hang in there!
    Liz

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  2. I suffer from bouts of depression, sometimes that never seem to end. A deep pit that one could never describe to another.

    It's written off so often as a 'bad mood' and others even get irritated at the 'moody' person.

    But if they only realized it isn't a mood. If it could be turned on and off at will, no one would ever choose to suffer it.

    Thanks for bringing up the subject.

    Hugs for that!

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  3. *nods* Thank you, m'dear. for a frank and honest look at the beast. I have MS. The fight for me often is: is this a natural depression, a disease process depression or one brought on by the meds? Ha! I get a choice.

    But it can't stop you if you don't let it. Fuck off, indeed. *hugs*

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  4. I love that you wrote this post - and I'm ashamed that I won't comment what I would like to on it ... but I'm not ready for that yet. Thank you for sharing! *hugs*

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  5. @Liz - I would be left unable to leave the house for days at a time because I was convinced I would die even though there was nothing to suggest that I would. Manic irrational thoughts that I couldn't get under control and a husband who didn't see that I was depressed, only saw that I hadn't loaded the dishwasher and there was dust gathering on the TV. Getting medical help is the only way - I have setbacks, they're not foolproof, but I'm in semi-control of my life again and know I couldn't do without them.

    @Carol - People who write it off as a bad mood are the same people who would pass off a slipped disc as a pulled muscle. They have no concept of what they are talking about. We are stronger for seeking the help we need and not letting them tell us we are just "having a bad day"

    Love to you both
    x

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  6. @Angel - my friend also has MS and I feel for you, I really do and applaud your bravery :)

    @Havan - there is no shame here my darling, only support from those who know and who are there for you when you are ready. x

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  7. Thank you for sharing, Lisa. I hope you can beat this and continue your writing and sharing with the world.

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  8. Thanks for sharing, Lisa.

    As Liz said, you wouldn't leave diabetes untreated, neither should you leave depression untreated. Like depression, chronic illnesses are often invisible to others, MS, fibromyalgia,diabetes, and many others.

    The reason I bring up the chronic illness, is I have a brain tumor or if you prefer the correct and proper title, an acoustic neuroma. It is a little tiny thing that is on my balance nerve, between the back of my ear drum and my brain stem. It causes some level of vertigo on a daily basis. It's something I have had to learn to live with over the past 4 years.

    Depression is like that tiny little tumor. It affects the balance of your life. Sometimes in small ways other times in ways that leave you flat on your back and unable to function. People can't see the cause, but they see the effects and it causes them to question why you can't just shake it off.

    Like depression, people have asked me if this vertigo and motion sickness is all in my head, because they can't "see" anything. The truth? Yep, it's all in my head, so what? Depression is every bit as real as my tumor, and you treat what you can, and learn to live with the rest.

    Hugs, honey,

    Laura

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  9. Lisa - Thank you for writing this. I am hoping some day that people will talk as openly about depression as they do about the weather. I have chronic pain and depression and often hear, "Well, you don't look sick." or "You must be feeling better, you're smiling." I also have a bi-polar husband and my teenage son was just recently diagnosed as well. It's an everyday struggle and it's hard to even muster up the strength and courage to get out of bed. We have to stand up for each other and support each other. Thank you again Lisa. And if you ever need an ear, I'm here.

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  10. Lisa, you touched a lot of souls with this post. I tip my hat to you and anyone who has to cope with depression. In these trying times, this is something a lot of people have to deal with. Well done.

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  11. Oh Lisa, thank you. I suffered severe depression after my husband passed away. I agree that you need to be strong enough to say, "I need help." It takes even more strength to take that help and use it to better your life. Keep your head up. Tell those people who don't understand to screw off. And if that doesn't help, you can always shoot them. ;)

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  12. Thanks for sharing this with us Lisa, too many people treat the subject of depression as something to be hushed up but the more people that talk openly about it, the more people will come to understand that it is indeed an illness and not just a bad mood you can snap out of. Hugs to you!

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  13. Lisa:

    WOW. very powerful! I Live with depression every day of my life. they told me I would never be able to accomplish my goals. FUCK them and the disease. You are awesome! THanks for sharing

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  14. Lisa, what a great post. I've suffered from depression (a few major episodes) all my adult life. Luckily, for the past 16 years, my daily anti-depressant has helped me keep the severe lows away. That last episode, I was sitting at my desk at work the second day in a row just crying. My boss was gone, or he'd have done something. But I typed a messages onto the RW-L listserv that read something like: Stop the world, I want to get off. And a dear romance-writer friend, Rachel Lee, told me "You are depressed and need to get to a doctor. Tell me when you make the appointment." And I did. My husband and I made some life-changing decisions (moved to Kentucky; I went to college for a degree in what I always wanted to do; and came to realize that my bouts of depression usually were clues that I was just headed in the wrong direction for where I needed to be). So, now I know to analyze what's going on if I feel depression coming on and I re-evaluate my life.

    Oh, and I had a LOT of counseling over about 20 years. It helped me figure out some of the roots of the problems. (For me, it's not just chemical, but also environmental with abuse and other issues.)

    Everyone's situation is different and what worked for me won't work for you. But talking with someone who understands or can help is a good thing. Taking meds, if you can. (Mine are prescribed by my family doctor. Talk to your doctor and tell them what's going on. The first one I took had a side effect I couldn't live with and we tried the one I've been on since.)

    All the best to all who are suffering right now. I know so many writers who struggle with depression. But I also know people in the "general public," as we say. It can affect anyone.

    {{hugs}}

    Kally

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  15. Have had clinical depression as well. It's important to stay on top of it! And no, there is no shame in seeking help. It's the only way you get better. Good post!

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  16. It's so important to spread this news. Likening depression to diabetes is a very good comparison - neither are visible, both are caused but a chemical imbalance in the body, both are very serious if left untreated - yet diabetes is accepted as a valid affliction that needs attention while depression all too often is dismissed by friends, work colleagues, even medical staff, as moral weakness. "Everyone feels a bit down from time to time" is as stupid a thing to say as my boss's opinion that 'depression is just an excuse for laziness". Not at all the thing one wants to hear when the monkey has its claws in your shoulder.

    *hugs*

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  17. Thank you everyone for supporting this post :)

    I've been on anti-depressants for almost two years now and I couldn't do without them, the change is tenfold.

    Even with medication we still have our dark days and I want to thank you all for being there through one of mine :)

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  18. Lisa, m'dear, you are a strong, talented woman with a bastion of friends to support you when you need it, and your courage is a beacon of hope to a lot of people. So are those fellow-sufferers who've commented, equally strong and courageous people.

    Apart from seeking professional help, maybe that's also an important fact: that you are never alone. There are people around you who understand from their own personal experiences, or who - like me - though they can't hope to understand fully, not having gone through it, they'll do whatever they can to help a friend.

    {{{hugs}}}
    Chris

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  19. Hugs Lisa. Great pos, It happens to all from time to tie. My worst was my post partum! UGH!

    I don't think its a laughing matter at all. It definitely is something that should be given more attention.

    (((HUGS))))

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