Wednesday, November 30, 2011

THE ILLNESSES YOU CAN'T SEE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

If I have a cold, you'll probably see me sneezing, blowing my nose, coughing  . . . all that gross stuff.

When I broke my back, I wore a back brace and used a walker.

But I have other problems -- invisible illnesses.

It seems as if more and more often now we admit we're depressed. Were as many people depressed in the past, but they didn't talk about it because they didn't know what it was or because it was unacceptable? Do we bring it up now because medications are available that might help us?

I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books when I was growing up. When Laura's sister Mary lost her sight, the Ingalls didn't go for group therapy. They didn't take antidepressants. They got on with their lives because they had no other choice. But in later years, someone -- it might have been Laura herself -- said that when Mary went blind it was such a disappointment to her parents that they were never the same again -- all their hopes were ruined.

Sounds as if they could have used some help.

Sometimes I'm so depressed that it becomes physically disabling. I feel as if a great weight is pressing me down, pushing me not to move, not to do anything. If you look at me, you won't see the weight, but I feel it.

 I'm the one with the weight on my chest. I can't lift it, and I can't move. The other little creepazoid can push off his weight because he's not depressed.

And then there's post-traumatic stress disorder, which D. (Marvelous Men) had as a result of going into combat in Italy during World War II. I won't compare my life to World War II, but if you raise your hand suddenly near me, I'll cringe in terror and shy away from you.

I'm not the person anymore who was the strong one when my husband was sick. I'm so worn out my strength has dwindled; I can't cope with disappointments or fear.

Some days are better than others. Some days I go out and walk the dogs and buy my groceries and actually laugh at a funny movie. I had actually been feeling exceptionally good recently.

But then I experienced a huge letdown.

Some days I stay in my jammies and don't bother to get dressed and don't leave the house.

You can't see that I'm sick, but I am.

Infinities of love,

Lola

P.S. I go to a doctor and take my medication, but nothing is perfect. I do pretty well until some event upsets me and I crumble.

31 comments:

  1. It can be very difficult for some of us to admit to anything beyond "situational depression." "My dog is sick and I'm depressed." "The game got rained out today and I'm depressed." "I got a coffee stain on my new blouse and I'm depressed."

    Treatment's good cuz it can keep us alive. And certain crises can make anyone retreat.

    There are no easy answers. Thanks for calling attention to something without pretending to have all the answers for yourself or anyone else.

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  2. How about being born with "depressed" brain chemistry? I was 27 when I was finally diagnosed, because I had all the symptoms except despair and suicidal tendencies. Therapy helped build my confidence, because I finally figured out I wasn't nuts, but I have been on Prozac, and now Cymbalta for 20 years. I will be on some such drug (God willing) for the rest of my life.

    I KNOW depression. A combination of therapy and the right drugs SHOULD treat nearly every case. If your current regimen isn't effective, ask for a change. If you see a therapist and don't feel like you're making progress, get a new one. And more importantly, ask to try a different drug. There are subtle differences; the "perfect" drug for your brain may not exist, but experiment a bit until you find the best available one.

    I am currently considering upping my dosage, because although I'm functional, I suspect I could be more productive with less "dread" hanging over me. But I have to tell you, it feels like cheating, which is stupid - do I deserve just enough help to not be a burden to others, but not enough help to be happy? Trust me on this - get an unbiased opinion! You can do better than mere survival.

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  3. We have more in common than simply being first wives – back trouble, Rx…
    At times it’s rough but you just keep on going and appreciate the good times even more…
    Hugs to you.

    (I also loved all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books…)

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  4. *hugs*
    i sometimes get depressed too. i do spend a lot of time on my own, picking after things on my own, and getting my life organized almost single-handedly. on good days, it seems normal but on bad days, i just feel bitter and angry, especially when i am unwell. but i suppose that is basically a common pattern of life.

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  5. Lola,
    I'm so sorry. I've had bouts with this too, especially after Zeke died. I'm praying for you.

    P. S. The other day I was so sad (and lonely) I called a movie theater just to listen to their ten minute message about the movies. LOL! That's so pathetic . . . right? At least the reviews were pretty good.

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  6. Does seem to be way more accepted, for lack of a better word, now a days. There are no easy answers and it can take right over, been there saw that, not at all something I wish to see again. Usually never depressed, pissed off more than anything.

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  7. Mr. Fox, Thank you. I think it's important to call attention to the fact that depression is real and it's treatable, but finding the right treatment can take time.

    Suz, Most of the time my medication works fine -- until something throws me for a loop, and then I use coping mechanisms until things calm down again. I think I was born with the tendency to be depressed and then life events made it worse. Those little connectors in the brain don't make the right connections when we experience trauma.

    Beth, Hugs back. I bet we have some happy things in common too -- even more than the Little House books.

    Jaya, Hugs to you too. It's hard to do everything on your own. I'm glad it doesn't overwhelm you on an everyday basis.

    Elisa, That's not pathetic at all. Whatever helps.

    Pat? Pissed off? In the dictionary next to patience there's a picture of you, and you're not the antonym. You put up with all the silly rhymes we use in our comments. How does such a master tolerate the novices so well?

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  8. Here's hoping that something comes along and throws you for a good loop! Sucks that it's a constantly fluctuating process, but you recognize and accept it and are getting help, so you're way ahead of a lot of people. Feel better.

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  9. No snide, sarcastic comments today--just sending my love & hope you feel better SOON!

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  10. Lola I feel for you.
    I think people had depression before but it was such a social taboo that no one admitted it. Especially since long bouts of depression meant you were mentally incompetent.
    What I do when I'm depressed (you've read my blog and know why) Is I get up take a shower fix myself up (even makeup) then I go do something. It doesn't matter what if it takes your mind away for a bit.
    It doesn't always work but If I lay around and wallow in it, it just gets worse. Love ya bunches lady. You can get through this. You are so strong and caring. You are not the one being crushed. You are the one pushing that weight back up. Go get 'em lady

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  11. Hope you feel better. You just have to think of the day in all positive ways!

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  12. I've been on Wellbutrin for over 5 years now. It took a long time for me to accept that I was clinically depressed. It was a painful realization in many ways. Medication wasn't a cure all, I still have my down days where I just can't do anything...and sometimes they're triggered by events, other times out of the blue. The out of the blue ones are so hard to deal with. I've learned not to shame myself for having those moments.
    Wish I was there to give you hugs and make you some matzo ball soup (my cure-all for everything).
    I'm a phone call away. Feel free to call me this evening if you'd like. It was nice to hear your voice the other day!
    Love,
    Stephanie

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  13. I have a friend that suffers from severe depression. It is so bad at times that she get's aches and pains in places you would never think. She checked herself into a hospital at one point. She never shows up for work. It's very sad. It's especially discouraging to be her friend and not able to help.

    I wish you the best and hopefully you can get out of your disgruntled state of mind. Glad that you are able to vent some feelings to all of us at the blog. You have your own little support group here. :)

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  14. Nicki, I think a good loop hit me last night. I'm looking forward to something.

    fishducky, You make me feel better all the time, you sweetie.

    Melynda, Going out to eat, even if it's just a quick sandwich, soothes me. Unfortunately, I can't afford to do that every day, but I have various ways of coping. XOXO

    Chip, Today is actually a good day. I wrote the post on a not so good day, but I write about depression regularly so people know it's real and so other depressed people know they're not alone.

    Stephanie, I have never had matzo ball soup. I'd love to try it. Do you think you can mail it? If I'm ever invited to visit Bluebonnet sister, I'm going to find you and hug you.

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  15. I'm so depressed I spend most of my time sleeping. :/

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  16. Lola, thanks for sharing. I'm sorry that you're facing this illness, it's not easy to deal with.

    You're not alone as you can see and as you know.

    I've been there, too.

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  17. Just in case you could use a laugh today--Steph reminded me of something. A friend came in from Salt Lake City & my husband & I took her to a Jewish deli for lunch. The waitress brought a bowl of chicken soup with a big matzo ball in it & served it to a lady at the next table. My friend (in all seriousness) asked me, "Why does that woman have a tennis ball in her soup?" They may LOOK like tennis balls--but they taste a lot better!

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  18. Peanut calls Matzo ball soup "Lotsa" ball soup.
    I don't think I can mail it to you, but I can send you my recipe and walk you thru making it sometime if you'd like. Good stuff. Warms the belly.

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  19. My 2 Pesos, Lo siento pobrecito.

    Interwebs, A lotta people do.

    Peaches, Oh I know I'm definitely not alone, but thanks for saying so.

    fishducky, That's cute.

    Stephanie, No, I want Stephanie-made soup. Get on a plane now. Please. See? I asked nicely.

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  20. Ms. Fun, I love having a support group. Yeah, it must be very frustrating to want to help your friend and feel you can't do much for her. I'm not feeling so disgruntled now. I might be again tomorrow, but fortunately I don't have nonstop, tortuous depression. I write about it every few months because it helps me and I think it helps other people to know they're not alone.

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  21. I know what you are going through.

    Thanks for writing about it!

    Just in my opinion back in the days before antidepressants were prescribed, I believe there was alot more suicides and people were just committed to asylums and left there.

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  22. Ugh...I wish I could say I have no idea from whence you come. Sadly, I join your ranks. Genetically predisposed to this illness. I don't do well on meds, I'm the odd ball that is not a teenager but gets suicidal thoughts with meds...and crazy dreams...and falls asleep. With three back surgeries and degenerative disc disease complicating and adding to the depression...I hear ya!

    I exercise and when all else fails, crawl under the covers until it gets better.
    Much love and understanding...

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  23. We do have something in common, beside the fact we both think I'm hot. Welcome to my world, hon. I have found the only way I can fight it when the dark (as I call it) comes on is to force myself to get outside and do something or go somewhere. I quit taking meds years ago because the made me feel suicidal. Now I have my bog peeps that mean more to me than they (you) will ever know. If you ever need to talk, give me a call. The number is on my Facebook page.

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  24. Oh Lola, I'm sorry. :( I can relate. I'm thinking of you.

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  25. I feel your pain and wish there were something I could do to take it away.

    Hugs to you, my bloggy friend. I'm thinking of you.

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  26. stopsign, You're probably right about people being committed to asylums. And I bet suicides got covered up or spoken of in whispers. And then there was that family member who was kept in the attic. Oops! That was me! But I do think we should write and talk about it because the more we do, the more it reduces the stigma.

    Sush, I'm sorry meds don't help you. I love pill popping, and most of the time, it helps a lot.

    Coffey, Walking the dogs usually helps me, and it makes them soooo happy.

    Jane, Thank you. xoxo

    LegalEagle, Why don't I wrap up my troubles in a bag and burn them in the fireplace, along with all my bills? mwahahahahaha

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  27. It can be o hard with confidence. I know this because I strugle with a lot of ups and downs. everyone feels this way.

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  28. Hi Rachael, Yes, we all have our ups and downs. Some days the downs are more extreme, but at the moment, I feel fine.

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  29. I've had a cold, so I just read your reply to my last comment on this post....hopping on the plane now. :)
    I wish.

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  30. Stephanie, Sorry you're sick. I'm fine so you need to make soup for you!

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