Hello from Southern California where people are happy all the time. It’s true you know and people pay us lots of $$ to look that way.
Do you know what the picture on the right is?
It is your brain on alcohol…oh, wrong cause. (Oh, pretend the picture isn’t labeled!) It is a PET scan comparing a normal brain with that of someone with a depressive disorder. The yellow areas indicate brain activity. I think pictures of the brain are fascinating.
Over 18 million people in the United States are diagnosed with clinical depression, but there is hope as it is also highly treatable.
Fun things and things that make you think like spending time here at GO! Smell the Flowers can be part of the cure. Comedy or cure? Or both…laughter is important in healing of any type. I am enjoying writing about mental health issues with a personal touch. I really appreciate people dropping by to smell the flowers and learn more – a great balance of fun & frowns, I think!
“I am a person, a unique complex individual. My diagnosis does not define who I am. It only describes some of the things that I experience. Major depressive disorder is one way to describe how I feel and relate to myself, others and the world. Don’t ever call me by my mental illness. I always have a name and a face.
Although, I desperately want you to understand, I know most people, even mental health professionals, cannot. I can’t just snap out of it no more than someone can snap out of heart disease. Thinking positively will not do it either. Do you not get that I am in serious pain everyday all the time. “No, I can’t just get better.” “Yes, it is that bad and no, I am not feeling sorry for myself.” “No, I am not trying to escape my responsibilities. I want to work and take care of household and personal tasks.” “I am not doing this to be treated special and no, I’m not over it yet!”
I’ve heard those comments and thought about them and tried some and failed. It makes me feel like I am a failure. I know that you meant well, but you were not helpful. I just feel like retreating more. My feelings were hurt. Please read the following and maybe you will understand me more.”
It is normal for everyone to have the blues now and then, but they usual pass in a day or so. There are several types of depressive disorders that interfere in daily functioning and causes pain to varying degrees everyday for the person and those around them. Before I specifically address major depressive disorder, I want to briefly tell you what the others depressive disorders are in this category. There is major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder (low-grade chronic depression), psychotic depression (depression with a break in reality, hallucinations and delusions), postpartum depression (depression which occurs after the birth of one’s baby), and seasonal affective disorder (depression which occurs when there is less natural sunlight). They are all chemical imbalances of the brain.
I was in psychotherapy for 12 years and then things were good until about November 2003 when I figured out I was depressed. Well, I know the symptoms, but I did not pick them up even though the symptoms had been there for more than a year. I returned to therapy and to taking medications which I had done previously for about 7 years. Even so, my sleep is all disturbed. I wake up about 2 to 4 am almost every morning may nap during the day.
I actually cannot remember not having disruptive sleep ever except for maybe a one year period after I was married. my psychiatrist indicated that it is common for a person under my circumstances to have difficulties with sleep disturbances. At least, since I am not working it helps because I can sleep whenever I am tired then it is usually a 2-3 hour nap and sometimes two during the day.
During this second time in therapy with the same therapist, I began to have flashbacks and memories of neglect, physical, emotional and sadistic sexual abuse. I became incapacitated at home and would not leave the house except for work. Everything became overwhelming I couldn’t shop (me not shop…you know it is serious), clean the house, cook, bake, etc.
All I could manage to do was to work, which I kept up to date, and at the beginning no one noticed and went to therapy 5 times per week. Yes, I had long days. Work was my way of trying to prove that I was “okay,” when I was anything but okay. I was always okay. I always over achieved in school and then at work. I had to be “okay.”
Maybe, it was my way of getting out of the housework because my dear, dear, sweet husband began to take over the household duties. This included paying the bills. I had never before had missed payments, not kept the ledger up to date and would balance to the penny. Well, let us say that he had to start from scratch. Oh, the answer is “no,” I was not trying to get out of anything. I just want to feel normal again, but I’m not sure what that is…it seems like it has been so long. However, since I began blogging, I have glimpses.
All at the same time, my husband began sleeping in the extra bedroom to make me feel safer. He volunteered…imagine a man doing that. You know that God was at work here because nothing was wrong with him. Our church began to provide meals. It felt like I was living a double life…a part had it all together and the other was falling apart and a mess. I went to work everyday feeling overwhelmed and panicked. Medications helped some, but not enough.
Then, working and going to therapy caught up with me and I was no longer able to work. It was continue to work and be hospitalized or stop working and hopefully I won’t need hospitalization. The situation at work had changed, I was having more difficulties concentrating and with “keeping my thoughts and feelings together,” and a new supervisor “re-traumatized” me due to her supervisory skills. Most of those under her left for other jobs. The unfortunate thing is that I loved my job and envisioned being there a long time. But, I figure that God knows what He is doing. Also, I would not have been able to do the tougher emotional work while being employed. This has been a good thing.
Now, I am a quite a bit better, but remain in therapy and on medications which are not going to be forever. I still have to gage if I can tolerate going out and handling the crowd without going away or becoming overwhelmed. Then, afterward and the next day I sleep and sleep and sleep. Also, there are days when I just don’t want to get out of bed and if I do and don’t have to go anywhere I don’t brush my teeth, shower or get out of my pajamas. These are some specific examples of major depression versus dysthymia which is painful as well. My therapist and I figure that I’ve been severely depressed my whole life with periods of major depressive episodes. However, hopeless I may feel at times, I know have more moments where I feel hopeful.
Depressive disorders are mental illness that are treatable and manageable, but need to be taken care of just as someone with heart disease would. No one would dare say or think any of the beginning statements to someone who has had a heart attack or cancer. But, somehow, everyone treats mental illness differently. Sometimes, it feels like some people are afraid they are going to catch it.
Depression disorders involves the entire body as well as the brain. They can affect many of the organ systems of the body including the digestive system, the hormonal system , and pain regulation. Depression has also been linked to the genesis of cardiovascular and neurological illnesses such as stroke, heart attack and degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
This is the first of two parts. later, I’ll cover some basic facts, how to help yourself if you are depressed and how to help a loved one. Next week, please come back and read the second part folks and your comments are welcomed right here!
All comments welcomed in the garden.