Sunday, December 13, 2009

In Hospital for ECT

I have been in the hospital since Monday and am receiving Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) treatments again. I had my first treatment on Friday. Everything went okay. I was a bit scared as I climbed onto the surgery rooms treatment table/bed. I have been through this before so I was no where near as scared as I was the first time I had ECT.

That said, I started to cry as I went under, because I was a bit scared, and I really feel like my life is not worth all this effort. Some of my tears were of shame, for being like I am.

When I woke from the anaesthetic I was very confused and had no idea where I was, or why...and all the people staring down at me on the table really freaked me out. As soon as the nurse explained where I was I remembered and calmed down...(I almost felt, for a brief moment, like I had been abducted).

It surprises me, but as soon as I got into the hospital I felt better on a scale of 1-10 than I have in a long time....maybe years. This confuses me and makes me wonder if I am just weak, and need to be taken care of (it is really hard for me to even think that... I want so badly to be able to care for myself). I am still really depressed, but not near as depressed as I have been in the past few months.

I believe some of the lift is because, while I am in the hospital, I have no real responsibilities. I was really stressed out about all the things I was supposed to be doing: teaching art classes, helping teach a class, walk my dog 3-4 times a day, feed my dog, do all I need to do around my house like cook, shop, clean etc., etc.

My sister phoned me back and said she would take my dog for me. Thank god. My other sister came over to my city and took me to the hospital, and stayed with me for the 9.5 hours it took me to get admitted.

Yes, you read that right. I sat in emergency from 8:30am until 6:00pm. It was so stressful. I must have repeated my exact same story to 5 or 6 different people, nurses, nurse liaisons, residents, dr's, psychiatrists. I do not understand how this can be more efficient than having my own psychiatrist say I need an inpatient stay and calling me when a bed is available.

Anyways, I have ECT treatments Mon, Wed, and Friday next week. I have my laptop with me, but cannot figure out how to get access to the wifi here. I will write when I can, but I just want to tell you I am in a safe place, getting the treatment I need.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It Gets Worse...

It seems I am being blocked at every angle. After seeing Dr. X. yesterday I called my sister to see if I could drive 5 hours to her place and leave my dog with her while I went into the hospital.

She owns her own home on 2.5 acres of fenced in property. She has two dogs that my dog adores. When we go there it isn't anymore work to take care of one extra dog, because really all she needs to do is put out an extra bowl of food and water (which I, of course, would bring with me, so there is no extra cost). I have dog-sat all three of them for a few days at her place before and found it no more difficult than taking care of my one dog.

At first my sister said sure, bring him up. So I made arrangements with a friend to take the 10hr return trip with me. A couple hours after my sister said okay, she phoned me back and said, "Can you find somewhere else to keep your dog?" I told her I had no where else to go. She said she couldn't take the dog, and I could hear her husband yelling at her in the background.

I got off the phone and started crying. I felt completely abandoned at a time when I really need my family to help me. It was really hard for me to reach out and ask for help. I know the dog is my responsibility. I know when I got the dog I made a decision to care for him. I also know I am an adult and need to take care of myself...

I know all this, I am generally, despite being so depressed, very, very independent. I always have been. I rarely ask my family for help. I feel so intensely alone.

It seems like my family thinks I could choose to be different if I just tried harder. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I am being treated like a drug addict, or a family member who is a criminal, rather than a family member with an illness. It feels like my family has decided that tough love , cutting their ties and there losses, and allowing me to hit rock bottom is the only way to saveme from myself. It is as though they feel that if they just push me far enough away my problem will disappear.

My other sister phoned me last night and I was really honest with her about how I was feeling. I told her that sometimes I feel like no one in the family cares about me, like the only way my family would recognize I need help would be when it was too late to help me.

She said, "that is just the depression talking, and they love me, but they have their own families".

I replied," I understand that, and I know your families take a lot of love, attention and time. I try not to ask for help, because I know you are all busy with your own lives, but for me, you are my family. I have no family of my own to help me. I have tried to find help in the community, but I cannot afford to pay very much, and there are no resources that I can find to help me get the treatment I need right now" . I feel desperate for help.

"We cannot understand what you go through.", she said.

Very calmly, but assertively I decided to be completely honest about what it feels like to be me, with my illness, in my family. I asked, "Why have none of you ever taken the time to learn about what it is like for a person to be clinically depressed? Or asked me what would help me? Or even sat down and taken the time to find out what it is that I struggle with. Not one of you has read a book, or tried to see how incredibly hard it is for me to manage an illness like this. Why has no one in my family (except my Mom...but she is dead)...cared enough to learn how to help or be supportive of me?"

When I write what I said down, I feel guilty for saying these things. My intention was not to make my sister feel bad, but to get her to see why I might feel so alone and uncared for in the only family I have. For years I have avoided expressing how saddened I am by the lack of support I get from my family. I am desperately in need of some support now, and I don't feel like I can get through this alone anymore.

I cannot imagine one of my sisters, or my dad or stepmom, becoming chronically and severely ill for years, and my not wanting to help them in anyway I could. To me, that is a familial responsibility, and an extension of your love for that person. Caring for family no matter what seems to me what a family is all about.

I know I cannot dictate, or change, how other people feel. People show love and feel love in their own way. People understand the role of, and their role in, the family in their own way. Knowing all that doesn't make me feel any less alone.

I feel like I really am so depressed that unless I can get more help than I have, unless I can somehow get some relief for awhile, I don't think I can continue in this life. It is too much for me to handle. I feel like a person, screaming in constant pain, and there is medication that could help them, but no one is willing to give it to them, and they are unable to get it themselves.

You know what scares me and saddens me about this whole situation (trying to get outpatient ECT, lack of family support, lack of community support and resources, bizarre and unhelpful treatment protocols etc...What scares and saddens me is that I know there are people who are far more mentally ill than I am, whose families have either completely abandoned them, or were never there for them in the first place. Compared to lots of people I have a caring family and I have a difficult time living with my illness. How hard must it be for those who literally have no one? The world is a sad and confounding place to me.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Kafkaesque Bureaucratic Nightmare

My life already feels like a bad dream. Today, trying to get the care I need, in the manner I need it made me feel like I must be a character in a Kafka novel.

My province's (BC) Mental Healthcare system's rigid and top down dictatorial, rule bound, and unsympathetic, inflexible bureaucracy seems to forget that people with mental illnesses require "patient's needs focused care" (rather than bureaucracy-needs focused care), just like patients with physical illnesses. Right now I am frustrated, angry, even more depressed. I had an appointment with Dr. X. today, because I want a referral to receive ECT as an outpatient. He contacted the ECT coordinator at the hospital, and they said I had to have someone with me for 24 hours after each treatment. Period.

It didn't matter that last time I had ECT I was fine and able to care for myself a few hours after the procedure. My only option if no one was available 24hrs/day, three days a week, was to go in as an inpatient.

I felt really annoyed and angry about this, thought it was ridiculous and one of those irritatingly bureaucratic rules where people forget that patients have varying needs, and flexibility would go a long way towards helping patients get there needs met. Patients getting their needs met is what a hospital is supposed to be about...isn't it? The next thing that happened showed me just how unpatient focused BC's Mental Health system can be. I have no idea how people who are even more ill than me get the help they need.

So...Dr. X. and I discussed my going in as an inpatient. I asked him what he would recommend for me, knowing how I am feeling, and he thought going in as an inpatient would be the best thing. Despite really not wanting to be an psychiatric inpatient...for lots of reasons: loss of autonomy, stigma, scrutiny, potentially getting a misdiagnosis in my file, because a new doctor sees something in the 20 minutes they see me, that my careful, diligent, and intelligent psychiatrist has not seen in my nine years of treatment, loss of freedom, being away from my dog, having to share a room with someone I don't know, phobia of getting bedbugs or lice from a public bed, etc. The reasons are many and and varied, and each of them really impacts my fear and lack of trust that I will be treated fairly. I am afraid I will be harmed, rather than helped by an inpatient stay.

...despite all that, I agreed to go into the hospital.

This is where the real Kafkaesque bureaucracy begins...
I asked Dr. X. to refer me to the hospital next door to where his office is. This is where I went before for ECT. My experience had been okay, and some of it had been really positive. I trusted that going there would be okay.

What follows is none of DR. X's doing...I could tell he wished he could send m,e to the Mood Disorders ward I went to before. I appreciate all he has done to help me and can see he tried to help me, but the system has too many blocks, rules, and idiotic systems in place to allow him to refer me to the University Hospital...

Dr. X told me he cannot refer to the mood disorders ward at the University anymore. All referrals for inpatient ECT had to be done at VG Hospital's emergency department. I listened carefully, thinking he could send a referral to the emergency department and then maybe they phoned me when a bed became available.

They wouldn't make a severely depressed people, (who had a diagnosis, and whose personal psychiatrist was recommending inpatient ECT), sit in the emergency room all day or all night, go through a slew of questions and questionnaires by nurses, psychologists, social workers, residents and doctors: They wouldn't make me sit in an emergency room when I was feeling this unwell and knew what I needed to do to help myself...would they?

They would. In order to be an inpatient I have to go to the emergency room, sit there patiently and politely for potentially hours, and even then I may not be given ECT.

This enrages me. I do not believe that a chronically physically ill person, who had a specialist who had seen them for years, and who now wanted to refer her for some kind of surgery, or other "in hospital" care or program, would be told to send their patient to emergency, where they would be interviewed poked and prodded by numerous hospital staff, and if and when a hospital bed became available, then MAYBE they would be admitted for the specialist's requested plan of action.

I do not know how, in the 21st Century, so much discrimination, and inadequate and downright awful treatment, of people with mental illnesses is allowed. I am telling you...if ECT helps me I am going to make it my business to fight for changes to increase the accessibility, availability, and flexibility of treatments and resources available to people needing help for mental illnesses.

I will patiently accept my situation right now, and go through all the hoops and rigamarole to get the help I need, because I don't want to labelled as a difficult patient, or a borderline. I need help so I will work within the system for now, however,...

The system has pissed off the wrong person. I am going to make it my business to see that in the future mental health patients are treated with the respect, the patient focused resources, and the dignity every human being deserves. I do not mean I will blame the doctors, or nurses, or even individual administrators. I might blame the governments insufficient funding and support for mental health services:>0

I mean I will volunteer my time to work towards seeing positive structures, regulations and individualized, patient focused support systems and care are available to ALL people with mental illnesses. My first plan of action will be to find a way to ensure that no person wanting ECT is made to wait in the emergency room, when a referral from a regularily seen psychiatrist should make it easy enough to call the patient when a bed is available.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thank You

  • Despite not sleeping and still being almost unbearably depressed I woke this morning with a clearer head. The comments people made on my last post both reinforced my clearer thinking and gave me some new ideas about how to help myself.

    Thank you so much for being so caring and supportive. It really helps me feel less alone, and less hopeless.

    So here is what I did/am going to do:
  • I called Dr X's office and left a message for him to see if I can get an appointment with him Monday, or if not, if he can send in a referral tomorrow for me to receive ECT as soon as possible.
  • I e-mailed him too in case the voice mail gets lost, because my phone is doing strange things right now.
  • I was going to wait until after X-mas to go in for ECT, but I am so depressed I need to feel better now. I am afraid about how hopeless and desperate I feel. I want my life back now. If they are able to fit me in now my Xmas will hopefully be happier. The hospital may not have any available ECT treatment times anyways, but I want to at least try to get in now.
  • My friend "E" (thank you!)went with me to check out doggy daycare, because my biggest concern has been what if I can't get home withing four hours of leaving my dog. He cannot stay in his kennel much longer than that.
  • Ends up it is only $23.00 for a half day, or $28.00 for a full day...not much when you consider how much it could help me.

I don't know why I did not think of doggy day care before. It makes so much sense: He gets exercise, care and companionship, and I can stop worrying about not being home on time, or not feeling well enough to walk him.

  • I sent an inquiry to a private home care company this morning to ask about availability, cost of getting someone to help me home from the hospital. If there are no other options I'm pretty sure some company can help me.
  • I am going to phone the nurse at the hospital tomorrow to see what my options are to be an outpatient when I have no one to take me home...I am sure others must have this problem. My Mom used to be a nurse and managed Home Support in her town. People were available to help with all kinds of things for patients. There must be someone in the system who can help me.

As you can see I at least feel a bit of hope right now. I feel like there is a way I can do ECT as an outpatient, it is just a matter of finding the resources available.

The one thing I am afraid of is that the hospital contact will be less than helpful...and will just keep repeating the written rules, saying something like, "the rules say I either stay in as a patient, or have a friend/relative be with me and take me home".

There are lots of great healthcare people out there, but for some reason I have come across more than my fair share of medical people who seem to treat me like I am the problem, and not that the system is not flexible to help people with unique challenges. I often feel like my having a mental illnesses causes some healthcare professionals to discount my intelligence and to jump to conclusions about me before they know my story.

You know how sometimes people working in a bureaucracy are unable to think outside the written rules and make exceptions, or find novel ways to get around a problem. If I hit that kind of a wall I don't think I have the strength to try to get the person to understand how important doing this as an outpatient is to me.

Anyways...thanks again for the comments and support. You got me thinking outside the box, which really increased my hope.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Closing in on Me

I have been having a massive anxiety attack over the past two hours. I feel like I can't breathe and it only serves to accentuate how out of control, and hopeless I am feeling. I feel like I am not going to to survive my depression much longer.

I cry as I write this, sob actually. I feel like it is over. I won't ever get better. I want so badly to be my old self. I want so badly to feel loved and cared for. I want the energy to love and care for others. All I feel is alone, empty, anxious, exhausted and so depressed I want to die.

Everyday, two or three times a day, I manage to leave the house, to walk the dog. I walk about 10 blocks, sometimes less, once in a while more. I go out rain or shine. I walk as much as I can, because I know, even if it is raining the fresh air, and the light is good for me. Even if it doesn't feel good to walk, I pray it will help me get better. All I want is to get better.

I do it too, because the dog needs the exercise, and I love my dog., and when I bought him I became responsible for his well being. I love him so much, but sometimes caring for him seems so hard, at times almost impossible. I sometimes think I can't handle having a dog. I can't manage without a dog though, because he stops me from killing myself. Without him I would have committed suicide. When I think of suicide my plans always start with how to protect him, to make him safe if I go. I don`t think anyone would love and care for him as much as I do.

So I keep walking the dog.

It takes me a couple hours to talk myself into the morning walk. I sit and browse the paper, always reading the obituaries for any sign that people like me, people who can't handle life, exist. I so desperately want to be understood and to understand.

I am so exhausted I feel sick. I feel physically ill. As I start my walk I keep saying, "one more step" to myself, in my head, because my legs are so tired and I feel physically unwell, and I don't think I can walk for very long. I tell myself I can go to bed when I get home, to keep myself going. The walk ends. I go inside and sit down. All I want to do is go back to bed.

I force myself to stay up all day. It takes all my energy, and all my effort to not lay down. I try to find things to do to get myself out of the house as a strategy to keep myself awake. I can't lay down if I am not at home. I cannot let myself sleep, because I have not been able to stay sleep this past week.

I always seem to have some difficulties with sleeping, but it has been worse the past few weeks. I fall asleep at 11:30 or 3am I am wide awake and absolutely nothing helps me get back to sleep. I try laying there, hoping sleep will finally come. It does not work. I get up and try reading. At 5 or 6am I am still wide awake. I try laying on the couch instead of in bed. The dog cuddles up to me, and I fall into a deep sleep for a few hours.

Strategies: care for a dog, stay awake during the day, schedule activities, create structure, get outside, get sunlight and fresh air, leave the house; my life has become a series of strategies to help my depression...but nothing ever helps.

I still feel severely depressed. I still wish I were dead, every single day. Sometimes I think it is cruel for my doctor to keep me alive. It is cruel to keep me alive so I can be this depressed. Nothing helps.

I won't survive this much longer. My depression, coupled with my physical pain and its increased fatigue (I can't believe I could feel even more exhausted than I did before, but I do), complete lack of interest in food, or anything that used to bring some relief...I even canceled my choir and singing lessons this week, because I was too depressed and too fatigued to go...all this illness is too much for me to handle.

All day I tried to figure out how I could go for ECT as an outpatient. I can't see how it is possible. I have no one to take me home three times a week, after the procedure. I do not want to go in as an inpatient.

My boyfriend is completely against it, and I do not want to leave my dog. I do not know why, but my boyfriend cannot see how depressed I am, even though I explain it to him over and over, I try to be honest with him about how I'm feeling. I cry a lot. I have no interest in anything. My place is a disastrous mess. I cannot cook. I am to tired to do much...

Yet, every time he calls, when he asks me how I am, and I say, "I'm not feeling very well", he asks, "Why", what's wrong? I repeat, "I am depressed". "What are you depressed about"?

Argh...I'm just depressed!! I have worked for years in therapy to take care of anything I am depressed about, to build a life worth living,,,but I'm still fucking depressed...and I still want to die.

I have nothing to be depressed about EXCEPT the fact that I am depressed, want to die all the time, am too tired to enjoy anything for any length of time...and that length is getting shorter and shorter and shorter.

I will try to figure out how I can be an outpatient without someone to take me home...there must be someway for people who live alone, to get this done. If I can't get ECT I give up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Physically and Mentally Ill: Will this pain ever end?

I am not doing well at all, both mentally and physically. I feel so exhausted and fatigued that I feel sick. The pain in my hands and arms is getting worse too. On top of that my whole body aches in almost a flu-like way. I have no fever, and no other flu symptoms, but you know how your bones ache when you have the flu, I have a milder, albeit still achy, throbby painful version of the flu-ache.

Despite being so exhausted I cannot sleep, which makes me even more exhausted. I am also getting more and more concerned about my physical symptoms, because they seem to be getting much worse and I seem to be getting more symptoms. Last night as I tried to get to sleep I remembered that around the time my hands started to hurt/lose mobility I had used an powerful insecticide throughout my house, because a friend of mine had discovered an infestation of bedbugs at their house.

Although I never saw, and have never seen (thank god), any bedbugs at my place I was concerned some may have been introduced into my home on the clothes/shoes of my friend, so as a precaution I sprayed my place... (a lot...I was freaking out as I have a phobia of bedbugs and lice). I opened all my windows and door while spraying, but numerous times while spraying I was overcome by the fumes. Last night I started worrying that I have poisoned myself with the insecticide, and that is the cause of my symptoms.

On some level I know I should not try diagnosing myself, and should wait patiently to see the rheumatologist in mid-December...but I can't stop worrying about what is happening to my body. I just can't manage being physically and mentally ill.

My mood is also extremely low right now. Despite trying to push myself to do things I have cancelled my choir, and my singing lessons this week, because I feel so depressed and physically ill. I am so tired of trying to get better and failing so miserably. I'm not sure I can manage this much longer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Does a Depressed Person Look Like

The entire time I have been off work I have been sure that my insurance company is spying on me. This fear has caused me so much stress and grief. Dr. X. has really tried to encourage me to keep trying to play, smile, do things that I enjoy doing, despite both my depression and my concerns about the insurance company seeing me enjoying myself.

He says, act like they are watching you and do it anyways. I have tried really hard to do just that, but my worries about the insurance company misconstruing my joy in the moment, with wellness, and my ability to return to work, keeps me feeling terrified about doing things. It seems I may be worrying for a reason.

Over on Shrink Rap there is a post that will scare the hell out of anyone who is depressed and on disability. It tells the story of how a woman placed photos of herself on facebook showing her having fun and vacationing. Her insurer removed her from disability benefits for her depression partially based on how happy she appeared in her pictures.

The article made my me outraged, but it was the 668 comments after the article that made my blood bubble and boil. I could not believe how little so many people understand about what it is to live with and try to survive, and recover, from major/clinical depression.

I organized the comments by "agree", and the fourth most common agreed upon comment was:
  • 525 people agreed: " is clear this woman is a scam artist".

Not far down the page were more unbelievable "agree" comments...

  • 262 people agreed, "...I hate to be cruel but from the facts presented, I'm leaning towards support of the insurance company's side. If she's ok to take trips, have parties, and go bar-hopping, how is she not ok to report to work every day? "
  • 212 people agreed..."Oops, looks like you got caught to me !!! Back to work we the rest of the depressed workforce of today"
  • 143 people agreed..."This woman sounds like a real go-getter"

How is it "clear this woman is a scam artist"? She posted pictures of a smiling self, enjoying the company of friends and a vacation on the beach. Do depressed people never go out with family or friends? Does major depression always preclude smiles, laughter and enjoyable moments on vacations?

I know for me, smiles come easily sometimes, and must be forced or faked other times. Even if I am severely depressed, I often find myself in situations where my mood suddenly lifts for a short period of time (when I teach art is an example). I have been so depressed I felt suicidal, unable to get out of bed, and was sure I was unable to get to my class...and then I walk through the door, see a student and my persona suddenly switches into high gear, and no one in the world would ever guess I was depressed. The problem is, afterwards, I almost always need to nap because I exhaust myself.

Does my ability to lift my mood mean I am not really depressed? I have wondered about this a lot. I cannot reconcile my depressed self with its thoughts of suicide, plans for suicide, hopelessness, and intensely low mood, with the persona that seems to be bubbly, personable and for some moments maybe even "happy".

I know that others have a difficult time believing I am depressed sometimes because I often am able to hide my sadness, or even become "unsad" for short periods of time. This has caused me a great deal of stress, because people are constantly underestimate, and often dismissing, how sad I am, and how much my depression impacts and continues to destroy my life, and my desire to live.

Another commenter writes, "If she's ok to take trips, have parties, and go bar-hopping, how is she not ok to report to work every day?" Can a person, who is truly depressed go on a vacation and enjoy any of it?

For me my depression often stops me from doing things, going places, being with people, but I still push myself to participate in these activities. Sometimes I even enjoy the activities I do. Can you believe I am depressed and actually enjoy some things? I do sometimes go away on a vacation.

Most of the time I still feel as depressed as I would be back at home, often the stress of being away from home is too much, but sometimes, the vacation provides me with moments of relief, and a break from myself. Do moments of relief mean wellness? Does it mean I can work?

Whether I am able, or not able, to work is complicated. When this depressive episode began I was severely depressed and somehow still managed to work at a job that required a great deal of energy and effort. My fear of losing my job pushed me to keep working well past the time I should have kept working. I struggled for two years to maintain my work, but near the end I shut down completely and would sit and listen to people at work explain things or discuss things...yet I could not understand what was going on anymore.

I know for me stress really triggers me and increases my depression. Currently I do some volunteer work, but only a few hours a week. I know I am not able to manage more than a few hours right now. Even with just those few hours it takes me a long time to recuperate.

I feel so scared I will not be given the time I need to get well, that I will be told I need to go back to work before I feel well enough to manage working. I question myself everyday about how it is that I am able to participate in life; write in my blog, volunteer, take singing lessons, see friends, yet am unable to manage working. I guess the simplest explanation is that the singing lesson is an hour long and then I can go home and sleep. My volunteering is a few hours a week, then I can go home and be alone, and sleep. My blog is just all the thoughts already in my head, being typed onto the page. It is cathartic for me to write...and then I can sleep. My friends know I am depressed, so I can just be most of the time.

I don't think that my sleeping after every little increment of work, at a job, would be very acceptable to any company. There is a term called "Presenteeism" that is replacing "Absenteeism" as what a company is not looking for. A person who shows up for work, yet is not well enough to fully participate in work costs companies a lot of money in lost revenue and work accomplished. The "Presentee shows up, does very little, and gets paid. It does not help the company to have a worker who is unable to fully participate in work.

Anyways I ramble...but I want to show that people who are severely depressed can sometimes lift themselves enough to do things others might perceive to be impossible to someone who is unaware what depression is really like. This just points to the resilience of the people pushing themselves to help themselves move towards wellness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kinesthetic Meditation

Inspired by another blogger's post, "Quicksand and a Mandala", I have decide to open a new blog that focuses on activities that help me learn to heal. Throughout my therapy Dr X. has helped me create in my life, a theme of activity based healing, by developing what he calls a "benevolent schedule" for myself. My new blog is a celebration of how doing can affect my thinking, and in turn help me heal.

Please add my new blog "Kinesthetic Meditation" to your blog list. I will continue to write on this blog, but will keep this blog focused on thoughts, ideas and feelings, and my new blog focused on activities I enjoy, or that inspire me.

Thanks for the inspiring idea Harriet M. Welch!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Anti-Psychiatry, Anti-medication; Thinking Critically about "Antidotes"

I suppose my post today is about thinking critically about any medical treatment you choose, or do not choose. It is about deciding for yourself, maybe with or without someones help, what you are willing to try to achieve your mental health goals. Please do not decide not to follow your psychiatrists treatment plan simply because someone told you someone, somewhere, but they can't remember who or where, had a bad reaction to a particular treatment. Some people have bad reactions to aspirin, it doesn't mean everyone should stop taking, or never take aspirin.

I've noticed more than average antimedication, antitreatment, antipsychiatry comments on my posts lately. Generall,y my first reaction when I read these comments is to become annoyed and brush off the comments as antipsychiatry propaganda or unbalanced, undereducated opinion, or opinions not informed by facts.

I am aware that some of my reaction is a reflection of my own irritation that the treatments I try aren't working. Some of my reaction though is worry that someone, who may really need help for their mental illness, may read the comment and without thinking critically about the other side of the information, might decide they are too afraid to seek treatment, or try a particular treatment.

Today I began thinking that the people/person writing the comments may have had some very bad/awful experiences of there own in psychiatric treatments,; either with the treatments themselves, or the medications. I suppose if I were not completely confident that I was being treated in the best manner possible I might feel that way too. I hope, if people have had bad experiences with their treatment for mental illness, that they find the power inside themselves to find a therapist or psychiatrist that they feel they can trust. I know for me, when nothing seems to help, just having a psychiatrist I connect with on a very deep level helps me keep trying to get better.

I am sorry to see people are having/or have had such negative experiences with their doctors, or medications, or other aspects of psychiatric treatment. It is ironic that although I do not seem to get better, I feel absolutely no anger, or annoyance or fear that I am not receiving the best care possible. You would think after so many failed treatments I might be anti-medication, or anti-ECT, or anti-therapy. I am not. In fact I feel that being treated with so many things has helped me learn about all the treatments available to people. It has also taught me I am very blessed to have Dr. X as my therapist/psychiatrist: very, very blessed.

I read somewhere (Maybe in a book called "Bipolar Disorder: A guide For Patient's and Families", by Francis Mark Mondimore, M.D....great book by the way IMO) that people used to die from being manic. Given there were no mood stabilizer to slow them down they would sometimes just collapse from exhaustion. Given how little was available to help people with mental illnesses even 30 or 40 years ago, I find it remarkable how much has been, and is being developed to help people now.

Some of the comments lately (and in the past) focus on how dangerous the side effects of a particular medication or treatment can be. Part of my difficulty with some of these comments is that they often relay unbalanced, inaccurate, or highly subjective "knowledge". For example, one commenter wrote:

"Antipsychotics are very dangerous drugs and can even cause Parkinson's disease and Tardive Dyskinesia...Many psyche drugs can cause permanent damage to the brain and nervous system...ECT causes memory loss - BRAIN DAMAGE....It has been my experience that most people are depressed for a valid reason...It sometimes goes all the way back to childhood. For someone who is considering incurring brain damage to rid themselves of a problem, I would ask this: What unpleasant truth are you willing to damage yourself in order to hide?" (from, ECT Media Portrayals of Depression comment)

(Note: I am using this particular comment as an example because it covers a range of concerns similar to many of the comments other people, who suggest psychiatry/psychiatric treatments don't work, are dangerous etc., often make,)

My understanding of some of the above treatments considers some of what this commenter has suggested. Yes, I believe use of antipsychotics should be carefully considered, because there is a potential for side effects such as Tardive Dyskinesia, and other unwelcome/dangerous side effects. As a patient I need to decide if my illness warrants taking the chance with the side effects of the medications I try. I have decided that for me, the pain of my continued depression, is far worse than my fear of a side effect that I may, "potentially", (not "necessarily"), experience.

As for "ECT caus[ing] memory loss- brain damage": I understand that memory loss is a fear, and sometimes. or for some, a side effect of ECT. I have had ECT though, and while I did experience some memory loss around the time I was receiving the treatments, I don't believe I permanently lost any memory. I could be mistaken, given that even when I was experiencing short term memory loss while being treated with ECT, it was not me who was noticing it. It was my family members. I couldn't remember, what I couldn't remember(...ha, ha.) Regardless, my choice to try ECT was informed and in fact it was my idea to try it. People underestimate how severe depression can be, and how hard it can be to treat sometimes. My depression was severe enough, and treatment resistant enough for me to decide that even if I had memory loss from ECT, it was worth trying a treatment that was shown to be highly effective in treating depression. I was willing to lose a few memories for the hope of feeling better mentally.

Last, but not least, this commenter, and others with similar concerns, has suggested my depression continues because of some "hidden", or unresolved "truth" from childhood. The truth is I had parents who were at times imperfect...imagine! Like everyone mine childhood was not perfect. Maybe at times my childhood experiences were devastatingly awful, but at times, in fact I'd say most times I had it pretty good. My parents loved me and tried to be good parents. I do have difficulty accepting and understanding some of my experiences in childhood, but I have worked hard in therapy to learn to manage, understand and for the most part accept and forgive some of the bad things. While sometimes I wonder if I have some deep dark hidden secret in my brain somewhere...locked away so deep that I cannot remember...I feel pretty confident that is not the case.

I work hard in therapy with Dr. X and I worked hard in therapy with every therapist I saw. I am open and able to articulate my feelings and work through my experiences. While my depression often makes me ashamed of things, when I am in therapy I work hard to ensure any shame about any memories or experiences is challenged and dealt with. It is not likely that my brain has hidden something from me, some deep dark secret that I cannot face. I feel pretty confident I could face any truth in therapy, especially with Dr. X. because I know he accepts me anyway I am.

For me there is no deep dark past that is keeping me depressed. My depression is keeping me depressed That's it, and I will do all I can, use any and all weapons available to me in the psychiatric arsenal to fight that depression. Of course I will learn about any of the medicines and treatments before I agree to try them. For me though, rejecting theses treatments outright because I am afraid of what I don't know, or because I hear bad things about them, or because I hear/read about other's bad experiences, is not my way of doing things. I try to check out all sides of the story, learn as much as I can, read balanced information, look for scientific information and then make a decision based on as much fact, and as little conjecture as possible.

I know no science is perfect. Mistakes are made. Drug and treatment side effects can be devastating ands sometimes permanent. Companies selling things like medication, treatments, help etc. sometimes lie and cheat. Pharmaceutical companies' studies are sometimes falsified or sometimes only positive drug trial outcomes are published. There are good and bad therapists/psychiatrists, and people in general, out there. It is not easy knowing what will or will not help or harm you.

I believe all we can do is try to find a psychiatrist/therapist whose education, knowledge and experience we trust, take the responsibility to look into treatments offered to us and try to understand the pros and cons, and decide for ourselves what we are willing to try to help ourselves become healthier. For some, they will decide no treatment is the best treatment for them, for others they will willingly try anything their psychiatrist suggests. For me, I will try any treatment that my psychiatrist thinks might help, if I feel is more likely to help me than harm me and I can see that the potential for benefits outweighs the potential for unacceptable side effects. We (my pdoc and I) may not always make the right choices, but they are well thought out choices and the choices I am willing to live with.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Physical Pain

I don't know if I do this because of my depression...I will get physically unwell/sick, or get an infection, or have pain, or whatever physical problems people get, and I leave it and leave it and leave it until it is so bad I am certain it is real and I'm not just imagining it. It is like I don't trust my judgement about my own body, or I think I'm being hypochondriacal, or maybe I just try to deny there is a problem.

There is a problem. About 3-4 months ago I started feeling like my fingers were losing mobility. They were stiff and I was having trouble opening packages, and jars because they were so stiff; especially in the morning, or after laying down.

Over the past few weeks my hands have become so sore and stiff at night that I cannot even bend my fingers, or pinch them then together enough to pull my covers up, or fix my pillow position. I have been using the palms of my hands to pull things up, and move things around instead.

A couple weeks ago I realized that this stiffness and pain had to be real and was getting much worse at a very rapid rate. I told Dr. X finally. He ordered some blood tests (inconclusive) and then told me that I needed to see my family doctor for more tests or something?

My first thought when the tests were inconclusive was that I am imagining the pain and loss of movement. (Why I would do that I don't have a clue).

These past couple days my fingers, hands, and my left arm are aching so bad it feels like my elbow is healing from being broken. Tje feeling in my lower arm/elbow is the same, just as painful, as it was the first few weeks after my elbow was broken...throbbing. My fingers ache.

Right now I cannot bend my ring fingers at all past the middle joint, and my movement is bad and painful at that joint too. The rest of my fingers have varying degrees of pain and stiffness...but my hands as a body part are rapidly losing mobility. I feel pretty scared about how fast this is coming on and because I don't know why.

I have an appointment with a specialist, but not until late December. If this rate of mobility loss continues I am getting afraid I will lose all mobility in my hands. On top of that, the pain is getting so much worse. I've tried Advil, but it doesn't seem to help. Warm water helps some, and the cold outside makes it much worse. Dr X said to exercise my hands, keep them mobile, but they hurt when I try to bend my fingers and now it is starting to hurt and feel difficult to move the larger joints at the base of my fingers. I can't even hold onto my dog's leash, I have been wrapping it around my arm.

I think this physical pain/fear is feeding a downward spiral in my mood...this is not what I need right now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sleeping Sickness

Sometimes you wake to a song that seems to be written for, and about, you. Here is what I awoke to this morning...

"...Like the sea, I'm constantly changing from calm to ill
Madness fills my heart and soul
As if the great divide could swallow me whole
Oh, how I'm breaking down"

"I awoke, only to find my lungs empty
Through the night, so it seems I'm not breathing
And now my dreams are nothing like they were meant to be
And I'm Breaking Down
I think I'm breaking down

And I'm afraid to sleep because of what haunts me
Such as living with the uncertainties
That I'll never find the words to say
Which would completely explain
Just how I'm breaking down

Someone come, Someone come and save my life
Maybe I'll sleep when I am dead
But now its like the night is taking up sides
With all the worries that occupy the back of my mind
Could it be? This misery will suffice

I've become, the simple souvenir of someone's kill
Like the sea, I'm constantly changing from calm to ill
Madness fills my heart and soul
As if the great divide could swallow me whole
Oh, how I'm breaking down

Someone come, Someone come and save my life
Maybe I'll sleep when I am dead
But now its like the night is taking up sides
With all the worries that occupy the back of my mind
Could it be? This misery will suffice

Someone come, Someone come and save my life

Someone come, Someone come and save my life

Someone come, Someone come and save my life
Could it be? This misery will suffice"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanks, I am Grateful For...

I am not doing well, but despite that I can see I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a warm bed, in a safe home. I have food and water. I have people around me who love me. I have a faithfully companion in my dog Skookum. I have a warm and loving boyfriend and friends who care about me. I feel so much pain, yet I want others to know I appreciate all they do for me.

  • Thanks to my blogosphere friends, supporters, commenters and readers for helping me out when I need someone beside me who understands. I cannot express enough how important this support has been to me over the years. I may not say it often enough, but you make a positive difference in my life.
  • Thanks to my 'real' life friends for being so thoughtful and caring; for holding my hand when I need it, and for being there both when I need a shoulder to cry on and when I need to share my exhuberance and joy. I hope I am able to repay your kindness. You are so important in my life.
  • Thanks to my boyfriend for loving me for me, for being so open with hugs and kisses and love. You are so easy to be with.
  • Thanks to my family, who, despite my fearing otherwise, tell me they will always love me no matter what. I am so afraid I will burn you out, but today my sister told me that would not happen. My other sister sent me a collage of photos of family members with "We Love You" written at the top. Thanks, I needed that. I posted it on my fridge so I can see it all the time.
  • Thanks to my husband who has accepted and forgiven my transgressions and is being very reasonable about our divorce proceedings. He has also been very supportive of me these past couple months...calling to see if I am okay and offering to help if I need it. It really matters to me that we part peacefully and kindly.
  • Last...but certainly not least, thanks to Dr. X. for sticking with me and being such a stable force in my life. I feel I can count on you to help me...even when nothing else seems to help. That support has been a literal life saver so many times. This morning, on my way top my appointment, I didn't think I could keep going. I can, and I will. Your carry my hope for me, in times like right now, helps me keep trying

Thank you so much,


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It Hurts

I cried myself to sleep last night. This week has been like that. I feel overwhelmed by all the responsibility to get better, to help myself, and to move on in my life.

I feel like I think I try hard, but really I do not. I vegetate at home a lot. I stare at the wall half the day and wish I could change. That is getting me nowhere. This life is no life at all. It is hell.

Yesterday afternoon I had a short period of hope, that if I could manage to do all the things I enjoyed, or all the things I wanted to do, if I just did all the things that made me happy, I would become happy. Just the thinking about how to get myself, how to force myself, how to push myself to do, instead of just think about doing, exhausted and overwhelmed me. I feel useless, hopeless, helpless. Completely lost.

Last night I opened up the bag with all my hoarded medications. I want so badly to end this life. I wrote my sisters a note a few days ago. As I sat staring at all the medicine I tried to figure out how to exit and make sure my dog is okay. That, and the fact that I don't even have the energy to kill myself, is the only thing that stopped me. How sad...that besides my dog, my low energy and inability to do, is the only thing saving me.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Seroquel Side Effect

I am going absolutely crazy with one of the side effects of Seroquel. My legs are driving me mad. I take my medicine and then a while later I get this awful feeling in my legs (or my head ABOUT my legs) I can't tell if my legs feel awful, or if it's my head telling me my legs feel awful. It gets worse each time I increase my dose.

At first I described it to DR. X as a feeling like there are worms crawling inside my legs amking my legs feel like they need to move. The more I try to figure out what the feeling really is the less I think it is coming from my legs and the more I feel like it is a figment of my imagination (caused by the Seroquel).

The feeling is hard to describe...The closest I can think is that it is an obsessive need to move my legs, caused by my brain telling me moving them will make them feel better. If I try to sit still and not move it feels like the tension and need to move builds and builds until I can't stand it anymore.

Dr. X says maybe restless legs (but when I read about it they say that is painful). My feeling is not physically painful, rather it induced and intense and unmanageable irritability and anxiety in me. I feel like I am going to be driven even more mad than I already am.

Dr. X. has also talked of Akathisia. I don't really know what the difference is except from what I read it sounds like Akathisia actually makes your legs move...I am the one moving my is not an automatic thing...I can, for a short period hold back from is the intensity of the annoying feeling that makes ME (my conscious self) need to move my legs.

Can anyone shed some light on what this feeling is and if there is anything non-medicinal I can do to stop it. Right now I am taking larger and larger doses of muscle relaxants and Advil to try and stop it (I thought it was helping, but I think maybe I was imagining it helping me because it is not helping at all right now.

Please...if anyone can give me info please do, because now my legs are feeling annoying. Dr. X. mentioned medication, but I don't see him until Thursday...and right now I do not want to take any more medication.

Also, can someone explain the differense between RLS and Akathisia?

Friday, November 06, 2009

A Life Worth Living

I am so annoyed and irritated for so many reasons...but this time it was triggered by blogger. I just COMPLETED a post and went to put an image on as a finishing touch and all my edits to the original post (which was actually most of the post) disappeared.

I don't feel like writing it again...but my point was that unless I get my old life back...the one where I unselfconsciously sang out loud at the top of my lungs...I don't want to live.

...and I feel hopeless and pretty certain that life, the one worth living, is gone for good.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

ECT & Media Portrayals of Depression Treatment Options

Dr Shock's blog is a wonderful mix of informative articles, videos and analysis of a variety of things from music, travel and art, to psychiatry and back. Of course, his focus is psychiatry, but the renaissance man in him shines through in his blog.

In one of his recent posts... "Illuminate Depression" he has posted a video about different treatments for depression. It is fascinating and talks about a variety of treatments. A big kudos to it for bothering to mention (unlike most overviews of depression treatments) some people's depression is treatment resistant.

I have pretty much given up hoping that main stream media will explain that depression is not always as "treatable" as they would have us believe. Nothing annoys me more than the statement "Depression is a treatable illness". It's the opening line of so many self help and depression information books...and for many of us it sounds like a lie. For me it creates an intense internal struggle within me about whether or not it is my fault I remain depressed despite trying several different kinds of treatments.

While the video is informative and interesting I found it very curious...and annoying...that the makers of the video included talks about all kinds of different treatments, some common, and some in the early stages of development, including rTMS, (which from what I understand has not been shown to be any better than a placebo***), yet it neglects to even mention Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT); even though ECT is a well-studied, scientifically proven, highly effective treatment for resistant depression. (***see this recent post in the blog "Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look" for a scathing look at the FDA's approval of rTMS and you will wonder how it was possibly approved)

It irritates me, (and does not help me explain potential treatments to concerned family members), when the media, either by negative portrayal or by leaving positive and informative information about ECT out of stories about depression treatments, subtly dismisses or devalues an effective and proven helpful treatment for resistant/refractory depression.

I feel confident I have informed myself about ECT as an option. What though of others who have not had access to any information about ECT except what they see, or don't see, portrayed in mainstream media? What about those who only ever hear negative information, or who trust that the books and videos the media are promoting and showing them the best, or the only, options available?

Will some people with resistant depression, some who might be helped with ECT, miss out on the chance to become well because popular media at best has failed to share balanced, scientific information about ECT, or at worst is colluding with naysayers to portray ECT as either a dangerous choice, or a barbaric one?

I worry also that the lack of accessible and scientific information in the media about ECT perpetuates the fears and myths that exist about the treatment. In effect this may (and I am certain does) lead fewer people to see it as an option...even if they have tried many, many other unsuccessful treatments for their mood disorder. I also think the negative media, and lack of media, and especially lack of an unbiased media about ECT affects how willing partners, family members and friends are when it comes to supporting a patient's decision to try ECT.

The media, when they discuss and examine depression treatment options and leave out, dismiss, or malign ECT as a valid and valuable treatment option, is not doing anyone with treatment resistant depression a favour. In doing so the media perpetuates ECT myths, hysteria and misinformation.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


(Thoughts like this post are partly why I stopped writing for a while...yeah I didn't have the internet at home, but I also couldn't find the energy to make the effort to get outside my home and make my way to the library only a few short blocks from my house, to rant about my depression, anger and inability to get well. I don't know if my continued diatribe about my depression is helpful to anyone, myself included.)

I'm cranky, irritable and at times am feeling a rage swelling inside me. The anger is mostly focused at myself and my inability to manage to help myself get better...either by somehow influencing a/any medicine to work, and by doing the things I keep being told to do in order to get well...for example:
  • eat well,
  • get some decent, cardio exercise...other than dragging my sorry slow ass for a painfully slow walk with the dog...(painful for me, because even slow seems completely exhausting...and painful for the dog because all he wants to do is run.)
  • sit under my lightbox
  • challenge my thoughts
  • read
  • get my sleep schedule/wake schedule the same everyday
  • don't eat sugar, so many carbs, eat more veggies
  • take my vitamins

...yadda, yadda, yadda.

I feel like screaming I am so angry with myself for not being able to, or willing to, or trying to, or whatever the hell it something to save myself.

I feel enraged also, by all the "helpful" ideas in psychiatry/psychology that seem to presuppose some magic energy resource or will, or that the ability to motivate oneself exists in me, and people like me.

Maybe it's I think sometimes...that I am the only one who fails to get better, 0ver and over and over again Otherwise, why do people always tell me to do things that I can't seem to do because I'm to exhausted/amotivated to do them....because I have an illness that exhausts, overwhelms, and robs me of all your desire, ability, and motivation to actually DO SOMETHING to help myself.

If others with this illness have these same difficulties why the hell do doctors and therapists and studies, and papers and books and friends and family keep telling me to do all the things I feel unable to do?

Am I crazy, 0r does this sound as crazy as a hockey coach screaming at a tiny kid; who knows how to walk and run pretty well, but who has never been on the ice, or in skates, to speed skate, intuitively know how to handle the puck and get a goal when they aren't even able to skate yet; or like a doctor telling a person with no legs to just walk around the block a few times a day and they will feel better; or like telling Cinderella to go find a prince to marry when she is so busy trying to clean up after, and appease her evil siblings' and stepmother's demands, and to even just protect herself, that she doesn't even know a world outside her abusive existence exists.

SURPRISE! I am really depressed right now. I feel overwhelmed with life, and once again underwhelmed by my depression treatment plan. I am pretty sure that even if something helps it will only help a bit, or for a while, or it, like everything else I've tried will simply stop working. I am pretty sure I have lost my old life; my old me.

It's not acceptance I am feeling...but an internal rage at losing what I valued so joie de vive, my adventurousness, my wildness, my positive outlook (yes, I did say that...I used to have a pretty bubbly positive outlook about the awesomeness of life)...and my lust for life.

I do not want to live if it means living without those things. I don't want to continue taking medication, continue psychiatric treatment, continue existing, if it means I have to accept the dullness, ineptness, anxiousness, sadness, fatigue, blah, blah, blah my life has become.

My Mom used to tell me I would get better when I accepted I had an illness. I think I accept I have an illness. I just don't want it anymore and I feel completely helpless, and hopeless, that I will ever be able to stop my symptoms. was intensely difficult to write the word "helpless" in that last paragraph. I feel like I have fought so hard to try to help myself, but nothing ever works, nothing I do ever changes how I feel for any length of time...Maybe it's time to give up trying. It is this intense feeling of helplessness that enrages me. I feel like a caged wild animal. Caging an animal just isn't right. Wildness tamed is just a captive. No thing, no being, wants to live as a captive.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Am I BeingSpied On

Am I being spied on? Am I doing something wrong that I should worry about being spied on?

I feel really rattled right now. I just had a most uncomfortable interaction with my landlord and I cannot shake the feeling that he is spying on me and came to my door to interrogate me. The conversation was very stilted, sounded planned, and awkward. I wish I just had the courage and conviction to tell people things are none of their business.

What happened:
My landlord, "C" rang my doorbell. I answered,as my door was open and he could see I was in...I probably wouldn't have answered if that weren't the case. I would have shrunk into the shadows and pretended I was not home, because he and is family scare me.

When I answered he asked me how I was doing...but the tone wasn't a polite, light conversational opener type "how are you" was more demanding information sounding. The reason I say this is because upon my saying okay he immediately asked me if I was working.

This question caught me completely off guard...though it shouldn't have because I stress everyday about him, or his family learning I am on a leave from work. He was just so blunt. It was weird. I didn't have time to think of how I could protect myself, and maintain my I blurted out, yes I am working.

Immediately I thought ...He is asking me these questions in his professional "insurance adjuster" capacity. This belief was further enhanced when his next question immediately popped out of his mouth: What do you teach?

I could feel myself getting increasingly do I answer without being dishonest, but also without telling an insurance adjuster I am working. The last thing I need is for him to think I am being dishonest by being on disability, but still working.

Note:(In reality I am not "working" in the sense that would be construed as fraudulently collecting disability insurance and working on the side. I "work" (volunteer) in an art clubhouse where teaching classes is a part of a mental illness rehabilitation program)

Regardless, of what a big part of me understands is my rehabilitation as opposed to my fraudulently working...I am so scared by all his questions.

I told him I teach printmaking and mixed media art classes. His questions kept coming...he asked twice how my boyfriend was...and he had an look of concern/perturbation on his face that was so strong that I asked him if everything was okay with me as a tenant.

Am I doing okay as a tenant? Are there any problems with my being here?, I asked. At this point I was almost on the verge of tears, and could feel myself overheating because of the stress. He said no, I was a perfect tenant.

Why then is he asking me all these questions? (His Dad has asked me about my working, and a couple times asked me why I am not at work too. I feel so uncomfortable with these questions, but I cannot think of what to say to avoid answering)

Then he asked me if I had the internet hooked up. I did this morning I told him. He then asked if I wanted to share the connection with him; me paying half and he the other half. Immediately I became intensely paranoid again. I asked him about how that might affect my privacy, i.e. if he had access to my connection via wifi/or shared connection could he see what I was doing online? Does anyone out there know the answer to this? How secure is my browsing/laptop info if I share with him, especially given he has the computer skills to spy?

When "C" left I almost got sick. I am freaking out right now...I revealed so much...told him I was working, said I'd think about a shared connection etc. He then asked me if I had my new computer. I told him I was getting one soon.

He offered to help me get a computer saying he had vendor connections. He asked me what I used it for..and I overshared and gave out too much information. Rather than say it was none of his business, I said that would be great...but inside I kept thinking he was doing this so he could install some kind of spyware on my computer so he could monitor me/spy on me.

Every time I see him, or his sister or Dad I freak out and hide in my suite until they are gone. I think I do this because I feel scrutinized and criticized at best, and spied on at worst.

I want to think I am imagining all my fears of spying, and I keep trying to reassure myself and act like I have a right to be off work and taking care of myself without fear of getting in trouble for doing things "worklike" to try to rehabilitate myself, and get back to real work and a life worth living...but more and more I think I really am being spied on.

Am I being spied on? Or am I delusional? What do those reading this post and my recent experience think?

Note: He works for a giant insurance company, has seen me receive mail from my employer's HR department every two weeks, lives in the house my suite is in so sees me home all the time, always seems uncomfortable around me and way too snoopy.

This is so stressful. Every time I leave my suite I look first to see if anyone in the house is here to see me at home (again), because I am so afraid of being seen as not working. I try to plan to stay away for at least 1/2 days if I go it at least looks as though I might have at least a part time job. I am getting worn out by trying to pretend all the time...or by trying to reassure myself that it doesn't matter what his family, or him know about me. I really don't believe it doesn't matter, and I really believe something weird /nefarious is going on.

Online Disconnecting and Reconnecting

I'm back...PHEW!

Going completely offline for a month and a half was eye opening. During that time I accessed the Internet only a couple of times. It surprised me how easy it was to disconnect. I thought I would have withdrawal.

If you had asked me before I stopped accessing the Internet, if I thought it were possible to "electronically disconnect" for such a long time I would have said no.

I am glad I did disconnect because it showed me a couple things:
  1. I am much more aware that given my low mood I have limited energy to use and I need to choose carefully the activities that provide me real life value.
  2. Far too much of my available energy and time was previously spent online.
  3. That "real" life activities and interactions are extremely important to my helping myself manage my mood. This does not mean "online" life activities and friends are not extraordinarily important to me...they just means that I cannot spend all my spare time online. It isn't good for me.
  4. I missed my online friends, but I did not miss the Internet very much at all...I wasted a lot of time online just surfing to nowhere.

The biggest and most surprising discovery:

5. I always wondered if my spending time online focusing on my depression, its symptoms, my difficulties, pain, fears etc. via my blog, and through reading, and interacting with other blogs/bloggers, made me stay depressed, or fed my depressive symptoms.

I do not see that it did at all. My mood did go up a bit this past month and a half, but I started a new medicine and I think it lifted my mood. The past couple weeks, despite not having and online influences, my mood crashed I think it is my brain that is the biggest culprit in terms of affecting my mood and mood cycling.

Anyways, I really did miss interacting with my online friends, and I missed the creative process of writing. Now that I am "connected" again I am going to focus on staying connected with others here and on your sites. It might take me time to catch up, but I will.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Wish My Family Members Cared Enough to Become Informed

Please do not treat me like I am not trying hard enough, or if only I tried harder all would fall into place. Severe and Chronic Major Depression is not like that...not for me anyways.

Me: "Sister I need help. I don't know what to do anymore. I am so tired all the time. You know how people with cancer or hepatitis feel so tired they can't do anything? I feel like that. Exhausted. I am scared. I have suicidal thoughts all the time. I am so sick I want to give up. I won't because I love you and our family so much, but I can't handle this anymore. I need help."

Sister: "You are not sick. You do not have cancer, or hepatitis, or any other illness. All you need to do is get doing things. Get busy. Go kayaking, go for a walk, do your art."

Me: "I have an illness that makes it hard to do things most times. I have no energy. I am sick."

Sis: "You are not sick, you don't have an illness. You are depressed."

etc., etc.

I am lost. I really am sick. Last week I asked my sisters to call me every couple days, just to let me know they love me and care about me, I felt it would help me stay here. I felt really proud of myself for asking for help. Once again though, I reached out for help and have been pushed away.

I am so depressed I am having a hard time functioning. No one sees it. Not the Art clubhouse, where I have tried to explain I need some concessions during this time; not my family...who are telling me not to phone.

On some level my boyfriend is there for me and I really appreciate his being there, but I brought up the fact that I wanted to go to the hospital for ECT and he flipped out; saying if I went to the hospital I would be abandoning him.

I tried to explain that my going to the hospital was nothing about abandoning him, and everything about taking care of myself. He said:, "Don't turn this around." (as though I am abandoning him, but just excusing it by saying I am helping myself???? I don't get it.

He constantly denies I am depressed, or that I have anything to be depressed about. The latter may be true, but from my perspective it seems I am depressed...even if most others in my life don't think so. I really get confused with his attitude, given he has a mental illness and is depressed himself.

I feel so intensely frustrated that those closest to me are telling me I do not feel, or look like I am, depressed. I feel like screaming I am so frustrated. I know I must annoy others...but imagine what I feel like, never getting well....nothing ever working.

I do have a couple people who are very supportive. My friend E is a saint. I feel blessed that she continues to listen to me and be by my side. Same with Dr. X. My boyfriend too, despite his denial of my depression, stays by me and holds me when I need to be held. I have met a new friend to...A and she is so sweet. I hope I can be the friend all these people need when they need a friend.

You might think it was a blessing for others to believe you capable of big things, but sometimes, when a person like me is extremely ill it is hard for others to see such a "strong" person needs help.

Please, if a family member has a mental illness, and is struggling, please take the time to educate yourself about what your family member is struggling with. I feel abandoned and dismissed by my family. I love them so much, yet given I have struggled for years and years, have lost my job, and have basically lost my interest in life...I feel pretty hurt that they have not taken any time, or effort to educate themselves about how these mental illnesses impact the people who have them.

I feel like they do not love me enough to even spend an afternoon at a depression information session, or to read about what it is like to live with severe and treatment resistant depression, or even to come over to my place and go see Dr. X with me. I feel really alone when it comes to my family. So alone I cannot even express it in words...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Will This Pain Ever Really End?

(William Blake, "Pity" 1795, Tate Gallery)

Like in Blake's painting...I feel like a woman who has had her child, albeit in my case, her inner child, ripped from inside her. Is it wrong to feel angry...even enraged, about my situation? Today I felt like walking into the hospital screaming, "HELP ME!...SOMEBODY FUCKING HELP ME!" I cannot take it anymore. I don't know how to get better.

Of course, I fucking "know" how to get better. Do all the goddamn things everyone tells me to do to get better. Get some exercise, see my friends, make more friends, call the friends I have, call old friends, smile more, look straight ahead, not at the ground, quit shuffling your feet, clean your house, challenge my negative thinking, stop thinking in black and white, go to church, read, go to school, take art classes, connect with my family, eat less, eat better, cook better, draw, paint, teach, take better care of myself, bathe more, dress better, tidy my house, get back to work, budget my money, breathe properly, let go, stop thinking about myself, stop crying, stop being self absorbed, do more, think less, drink more water, take vitamins, take supplements, go to sleep early, get up earlier, stop coffee, drink no alcohol, canoe, ski, hike, camp, work sing, paint, create, love people, stop being angry...STOP BEING ANGRY! STOP BEING have everything you need. So many people have so much less than you and they are happy. Stop thinking about suicide. Participate in therapy, Do what you are supposed to do. Take your medication/s. Depression is treatable. You are just not trying hard enough.

So they say...but how do these things if I am so depressed I cannot do these things. How do I do these things if nothing I try, including medications, ever helps for any length of time?

I love Dr. X. I love him as a therapist, a clinician, and on some level, as a valued friend and family member. I trust him, his knowledge, his ability to help others, his ability to help people manage their mental illnesses. I know he cares about me and my welfare. He wants to see me well. I know he tries so hard to help me...but I think I am "unhelpable".

When I met him I felt so relieved that finally someone was helping me who knew how to help me. I felt so lucky to have met such a patient, compassionate and caring psychiatrist. Finally, I felt I was in good hands. ...and I was, and I am.

I still think I am in good hands. I still think Dr. X is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable about Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder, other Mental Illnesses and their treatments. I still believe he is a great psychiatrist. I even think that for many with a "treatment resistant" depression he is likely able to help them.

I think the problem is that my depression is not "treatment resistant", rather it is "absolutely unresponsive". I feel angry because if I had a physical illness that caused this much pain I would be given something to at the very least stop the pain. If my illness was physical, I could get some relief. I have no idea what a similar "pain medication" would look like for severe depression...maybe morphine to knock me out, to not allow me to feel, or some kind of heavy duty tranquillizer combined with an extended stay in some kind of long term care what a sanitarium was supposed to be.

I completely understand why some people with mental illnesses, especially chronic ones, turn to hard drugs. Last night even I was thinking...maybe if I got some heroin, and just injected enough to relieve some of this pain...even for a while, it might be worth it.

If there is nothing out there that helps will I keep going? Better question is WHY would I keep going. I do not understand what I did to make this be happening to me. I always tried to be a good person. I feel like I must have done something really bad in my past life, or in this life, to be left feeling like this for so long. I feel like I am in Hell.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Diary of Obsessive or Intrusive Suicidal Thoughts

Rembrandt van Rijn Abraham and Isaac 1634. Oil on canvas 158 x 117 cm (62 x 46 in.)

may trigger...includes suicidal thoughts.

My sister called me and told me my 9 year old niece had been told about sex by a couple kids at school. My niece got it into her head that it was an awful thing to know about and that she would get in trouble for knowing about it. She began acting really strange and my sister asked her what was wrong...and she blurted it all out..full of all her nine year old angst about thinking such bad thoughts.

She told her Mom that when the kids told her she could not get the images and thoughts out of her mind and the more she tried to get rid of them the more she thought about them.

My sister, being the loving and level headed Mom she is asked her what thoughts she was having. At first my niece was horror struck by the thought of sharing such awful thoughts with her Mom. So my sister explained to my niece that we all have tons of thoughts, some even awful, going through our heads all the time. They are just thoughts. They can't hurt us.

To prove the point she said to my niece, "I'll show you...over the next few minutes, while we are driving I will say out loud all the thoughts I have. So she began:
  • What was she thinking...that dress is awful (seeing some woman dressed in a "bad" dress.
  • Look at him!
  • I'm so hungry
  • Brandi made me so mad today
  • argh, why are people such crappy drivers
  • etc., etc.
My niece started laughing at how her Mom was being so nosy about other people's business. So my sister asked her what the thoughts about sex were. What did the girls say? My niece looked straight at her horrified. "They said babies are made by kissing. That is so gross. It's not true is it?"

I wish my intrusive thoughts were about kissing. Here is how they manifest themselves in me...over and over and over again. I spend a lot of time considering, planning and trying to push myself to commit suicide. I notice, now that I have seen the thoughts written down, trying to find reasons why that might not be a good idea (at least for my dog).

Here is a stream of consciousness example of the thoughts that have gone through my head in the last 5 minutes. I have these thoughts throughout the day, almost everyday.

Please know they are only thoughts. I have had these kinds of thoughts during every depressive episode I have ever had. I have never attempted suicide.

On a huge level I know they are only thoughts...but I feel so worn down by both them and my depression. I wish I could get rid of them. Also, while I am having them I don't feel I am aware they are only feels like I am trying to compel myself to commit suicide.
  • Your life is a waste.
  • kill yourself.
  • do it.
  • you have the means
  • you could take all your hoarded pills.
  • my head is so heavy.
  • I feel sick.
  • I don't want to live anymore.
  • why live when everyday is a struggle to live.
  • kill yourself.
  • you could leave a note on the door for someone to get your dog afterwards.
  • Or you could e-mail dr.x and let him now you are dead and the dog needs help.
  • but that's awful, how could I even think doing that would be okay.
  • imagine how he would feel if I did that.
  • After all he has done for me.
  • I'm evil for thinking the way I do.
  • I just don't know how to keep trying when I feel so depressed.
  • Why do I have to feel like this.
  • I'm not evil, I just can't take it anymore.
  • Why do I never get better.
  • I have done this to myself.
  • I have destroyed my life.
  • I wish I would die.
  • Why do I have to live?
  • Why can't I just go and have everyone know it is better for me to go.
  • I could hang myself.
  • It would feel so good for my head to be gone.
  • that tree in the park.
  • the one with all the huge limbs.
  • I could climb up to the top and...
  • what about Skookum.
  • I could tie him to the base of the tree.
  • Someone would find him.
  • What if a bad person found him?
  • I could leave a note on myself with my sister's #.
  • my sister would take him.
  • what if no one found me soon enough.
  • What if got attacked by coyotes?
  • what if he starved to death before someone found him?
  • I can't do that to him.
  • How can I die and make it be okay for everyone else?
  • It's not like there are many "everyone else's".
  • The people I do love really matter.
  • I wish I could get better.
  • God I am so sick of myself.
  • imagine what it is like for everyone around me.
  • I wish I could be put to sleep.
  • Euthanized.
  • Then I would die and not fuck up and end up brain-damaged and still alive.
  • I couldn't handle that.
  • WTF...I can't handle this.
  • Please make all this stop.
  • etc., etc., etc.

I really am amazed I have lasted this long with such ideas in my head. I just noticed too that I talk to myself in the 2nd I'm distancing myself from my self.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm an Afterthought...and that hurts.

I feel like just sitting in my corner chair and staring, or laying in bed all day...waiting impatiently for each minute, each hour, each day to end.

Dr. X says...(I am paraphrasing with my understanding of what he said...I can't remember exactly what he said), I need to hold on to the moments of happiness, or the moments of joy I do have. That if my mood remains like this I need to try to recognize there are moments that I enjoy.

That is not the life I want. I do not feel a life with extended periods of intensely painful and severe depression symptoms punctuated by brief moments worth experiencing is, for me, a life worth experiencing.

I know, and believe that for some people this might work, or sustain them. I think I used to manage by knowing this would pass, and things would get better. I no longer believe that. I am so tired of trying, and failing to get well.

I am so sick of trying treatments, therapy, medicines that never work, tired of trying to explain what is going on to my family (who I love so immensely it hurts). It hurts so much that I love them and need them and want so badly for them to understand me, to reach out, to help me...and they don't seem to get how much I need them.

I was thinking about why, at 44, I still so desperately need my family's approval, love and support. It feels so childish. I realized yesterday that a life is worth experiencing and living if you have someone who thinks of you on a regular basis. It is as though you really exist if someone wants and needs you here. I mean really needs the way I desperately need my family.

I used to feel my Mom was like that. She would call me and ask how I was, and as if I was okay, or wanted to talk. She always had time for me. She went out of her way to love me, to visit me, to include me in all family functions. I remember thinking there was something pathological about how much I needed my Mom all the time. I was very independent and too care of myself, but always there was an underlying need to be loved by my Mom. It seemed unadult like on one hand, but on the other hand her love sustained me through even the worst of the worst.

Now I feel like my Dad and Stepmom see me as the "problem child" and have taken a ..."wait til she hits rock bottom stance" though I were an addict in need of toughlove, rather than mentally ill. I feel as though they actually avoid me.

note: I don't believe addiction is treatable with toughlove...I think it is an illness too. I think all humans need love and compassion to fulfill themselves.

My sisters' have their own family's to worry I am a passing thought. I feel so alone. I feel lie a burden. I feel like I am an afterthought, a sister and daughter who has completely disappointed her family. I feel avoided. I want my Mom back.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What if Nothing Ever Works? Is Life Worth Living?

This post is just another blah, blah, blah about how desperate I feel. Please do not read if you are annoyed by me and my morose being, or if you are triggered by dark thoughts.

I am not writing this to reach out, or to help anyone. I am writing this because the urges and images inside me are overwhelming me. I need to get all these bad thoughts out of my head...I guess in a sick way my writing like this is a coping strategy.

Given my decision to write this blog, not just for myself, but for others to read, I often find myself afraid to write what I really feel. I try really hard to be genuine and honest, but sometimes I feel my unrelenting, chronic illness, its symptoms, my thoughts and behaviour might annoy, overwhelm, trigger, or burden other people.

This feeling of overwhelming and burdening others happens in my "real" life too. I feel if I share the truth, speak the truth, open up completely to my family and friends it places a heavy load on their shoulders. What the hell are they supposed to do with the information? It feels selfish to share such detailed and frightening imagery and information with them. So I keep the heaviest part of my load inside me, and then days like today happen and I feel like the load will tip me over and flatten me.

I have been sitting here on the verge of tears for the past few hours. At one point I called my Dad, ostensibly about something he might be able to help me with, but really I wanted to scream..."help me". Reason took over. My Dad doesn't even think I need help...definitely not the person to reach out to.

When my Stepmon asked me how I was, I so desperately wanted to reach out for help. I heard my voice quiver. About to break into tears I managed to squeak out, "fine". She did not notice and took my "fine" at face value.

I am not fine. My suicidal thoughts are so strong right now. I was in the gas station today, staring at the packages of rope. My brain kept saying buy it, buy it, buy it, do it, do it. I managed to move away from the rope, only to be drawn to it again...three or four times. I left the gas station with no rope, but not without an intense desire to die.

How do people survive chronic MDD. As the years go by with nothing able to help me for any length of time Iam losing my resolve, my will to fight, my desire to live. I cannot see how it is possible to keep trying when I still feel so much severe depressive pain, isolation, fatigue, attention difficulties, memory loss and amotivation...these things have completely destroyed me.

I had lots of friends, went to school, worked hard, , both physically and socially. I did everything you are supposed to do to have a happy life.

I am not the person I see inside me now. I have become some monster. I have become the epitome of hell. I have become an empty vessel, an inanimate being, the living dead.

I am a zombie; dead inside, but walking directionless, searching and praying for a way to make the death destroy my shell as well. Why did this happen to me. I always tried so hard to be alive, vivacious and passionate about my life, and other people's lives.

Now, everywhere I look I find myself searching for a way out of this life. I see an car accident taking me away, a truck running me over, a rope hanging me in a tree, a dog leash and choke chain slipped around my neck and over the bathroom door, a leap from the Alex Fraser Bridge, a fall in front of the train, ...a note pasted on my door...someone help my dog.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What's Wrong?

I adore and love my boyfriend "I". He is one of the most interesting, funniest, warmest, sweetest and sexiest men I have ever known. I am at a loss in one area though. I feel really confused when the topic of my mood disorder comes up. It is as though he is in complete denial that I am depressed.

He "knows" I am depressed. We met at an art clubhouse for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses. That is one of the criteria for joining this particular art program. We both have mental illnesses. We have talked about how important it is for us to support and care for each other both when we are well and when we are ill.

"I"'s perspective on mental illness has been extremely complicated by his father committing suicide when he was a child. It becomes even more complex when you learn his father was a psychiatrist.

This is how the conversation that confounds me goes:

I: How are you.
Me: I am not feeling well.
I: Why not?
Me: I am depressed.
I: What are you depressed about?
Me: I don't know. No reason. I just feel intensely depressed. It never seems to be about anything. It just comes upon me for no reason.

This conversation may seem innocuous, but the fact that I have to tell him I am depressed, and that he wonders why I am not feeling well, and what I am depressed about...over and over and over...makes me feel really misunderstood.

I have tried to explain my symptoms to him; my suicidal ideation, my severely low mood, the fatigue, the amotivation, the anxiety etc. He sees me cry, and unable to clean, or cook, or do much of anything, but he keeps telling me I am not depressed and/or asking me why I am depressed. Having all these symptoms is depressing. How can he not understand that.

I have to admit that I hold back when I tell him how depressed I am. He is still traumatized by his Dad's suicide. I do not want to trigger him by talking openly about my suicidal ideation; especially because I ideate about hanging myself over and over throughout the day, everyday. His father hung himself.

While I do not relay the vivid details, I do express that I am desperate, that I want to go in for ECT, and that I cannot manage this illness much longer. He sees that I see Dr. X each week. For some reason he thinks I do not need to see a psychiatrist. He says I am not sick.

I think he sees me as being funny, supportive, loving and functioning maybe on a level above many who have the same symptoms I do. Maybe what he sees and experiences does not match what I feel, or what I tell him I feel. Maybe his experience of his own depression is different. Maybe this suggests to him I am not as depressed as I think I am.

He is so wrong. I am so depressed I feel like I might not survive if something doesn't change very soon.

What's wrong?
  • I have to take so much medicine, just to still feel this bad...a Mood Stabilizer,an antidepressant, sleep medication(another antidepressant), thyroid medication, and a stimulant)
  • I cannot stay out of bed I am so exhausted.
  • I can't eat properly both because I cannot walk, or drive three blocks to the grocery store to buy decent, healthy food, and because I have enough energy and motivation to eat Cheetos and cereal...that's it.
  • I feel sick inside all the time...physically sick, like I can barely move, am nauseous and I feel blah.
  • I want to crawl into a fetal position and pray my life will end
  • I see ways to kill myself everywhere I go: a car crash, pills, a bus running me over, being hit by a car as I cross the street, falling from a bridge, drowning in the ocean etc...
  • I feel dissociated much of the time; detached, depersonalized.
  • I feel desperately isolated, alone, lonely. I feel so alone through this. It is impossible for anyone to understand what this feels like. There is no one who understands the level of depression I feel.

I want to kill myself, I want to die, I don't want to live if this is what my life will be like...that is what is wrong.