Monday, July 28, 2008

Kicking and Fighting

I have never been one to accept that I have limitations. I think part of that has been helpful in my struggle with Major Depressive Disorder and it's partner "Anxiety". However, I also understand that fighting against my depression and anxiety; not accepting I have an illness, has hindered my becoming well.

Some of you may think; "what the hell, she talks about it in her profile and in all her posts. How can she possibly suggest she does not "accept" her illness. It is strange.

I can say it: "I have a mental illness. I am depressed and anxious. My life has changed dramatically because of these"

I can comprehend it: "Some people have a combination of psychological, physiological (AKA biological) and genetic factors that may predisposition them towards having a mental illness.

I can see how I may have been affected by all three: "I have numerous people in my family with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, I was a child who was predisposed to worry about everything from a very young age. I had numerous incidents while growing up that very negatively affected my mental well being."

I can see I need help: For years, off and on I have sought help via therapy. For the past 6.5 years I have received weekly therapy and been willing to try every medication on the planet to try to make myself feel better. I know something is not right. I know I have had times in my life where I feel like a completely different person.

The trouble is I kick and fight all the way. I cannot shake the feeling that this is all my fault; that had I lived my life differently, or made better choices I would not be in this predicament; that somehow I am different from all the other people I know who have mental illnesses. I can understand their illness is not their fault. I can see there is an outside force "making" them have their difficulties. I cannot accept the same for me.

I often wonder if the medications and the therapy don't work, because I am not depressed. I am not mentally ill. I am simply stubborn and lost. I hate who I am, and I feel like I made myself this way.

For instance, my fatigue: Every time I talk with my sister about it she says, "I find that the more I do, the more energy I have". She tries to get me to do more to feel less tired, but I cannot bring myself to do more. This feels like a personal flaw; if I really wanted to get better I would swim, and exercise, and clean the house, and make dinner, and have a shower, and do all the things that a healthy person does.

If I really wanted to get better I would take that 6 grams of salmon oil religiously everyday. I would take a multivitamin and B-Complex vitamin everyday like my pdoc suggests. Who cares if it means I have to take 8 more pills on top of the 10 other pills I already take throughout the day. Who cares if I keep forgetting. If I really wanted to get well I would find a way to remember.

If I could accept I had a mental illness; not just say it, or understand what that is, but really accept that some of what goes on in my head and with my body is out of my control I think I might begin to let go and to get better.

If I could stop fighting against the suicidal ideation, the self loathing, the anxiety, the intense fatigue, the amotivation, the absolute terror and fear of being left alone, or being embarrassed, or being rejected; if I could accept these are symptoms I cannot control, I might be able to relax and stop trying so hard to get rid of them. Ironically this might be the path to them leaving me.

I need to find it within myself to ACCEPT I can do what I can and I can try to do things. I can hang on, and survive, but I cannot CONTROL all my symptoms. I need to learn that have an illness where what you can and cannot control is ambiguous. I need to believe that I am trying as hard as I can to get better, and that is all anyone wants me to do.


deepblue said...

You have articulated very well the same thoughts that nag my brain. Wish I could have written it!

It's such a tricky problem - because even though we go to great lengths to compare depression to other biological diseases like diabetes or whatever, the fact is, it is very different. There is no test. No proof that it's biological, per se. And the symptoms overlap with a great many "personality flaws" that "normal" people just put on their list of new years resolutions to overcome.

It is so so difficult to figure it all out.
Thanks for offering a glimpse into your journey.

The Silent Voices in my Mind said...

i am right here with you, aqua. i look at what i can do and can't understand why i can't do the rest. i try to tell people how i am feeling and they tell me to suck it up. i wonder all the time if this is a disease or if i am just a failure.

and yet i do not condemn others with the exact same symptoms as i show. it makes no sense but that is how i feel.

so, dear aqua, you are not alone.

Polar Bear said...

You have a serious case of being really hard on yourself. Yes, it is easier to accept other people's limitations and attribute that to their mental illness. not so easy on yourself. It's a double standard isn't it? I struggle with this too.

I think it's also a self esteem issue. It is VERY hard not to put the fault on ourselves. i blame myself for everything. EVERYTHING. It's always my fault - if I'm not feeling good, I'm not doing enough to make myself better - it's easy to blame ourselves isn't it? I grew up in a family where I was the scapegoat. Evrything was my fault. And now as an adult, I've internalised that. Everything is my fault. I truly believe that.

It's such a hard place to be, and yet here we are....

It's something I'm working on in therapy. I don't have the answers either.

Aqua said...

Thanks DB, Sv and PB,
PB I have internalized my father's criticism, demoralizing comments, humiliation, dismmisiveness of my accomplishments and disapointment in/with me. You are on to something.

I am even more critical of myself and my inability to "suck it up" than he ever could be. It is a brutal and difficult pattern to change. Dr. X and I try to work on this, but the behaviour is deeply embedded in my soul and hard to shake.

Tamara said...

I so understand how you feel and how the frustration of it all can drive you crazy. Please try not to be so hard on yourself. I also struggle with admitting that I am an abuse survivor, depressed, bipolar etc. yet then being angry at myself that I am not "normal".

Fighting with yourself just wears you out. As you said, you are doing all you can to get better and that is all you can do. Just remember that you are not alone!

Please be easy on yourself and pat yourself on the back for the good things you do to take care of yourself.