Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just taking up blog space...

A bit of rambling that may have little to do with anything.

Most of my long-time readers are aware that I have
dealt with depression, off and on, for quite a while.
It took me a long time, some therapy and serious soul
searching on my own to realize that it's been present in my
life for more than thirty years.

Clinical depression is not a choice.
It is not a spoiled brat whining for attention and hoping to be
excused from life responsibilities. Often, it cannot be explained
by life situations or circumstances. However, it can be exacerbated
by stressors. It is often accompanied by feelings of guilt when the
current bout of depression has no clear reason. That can cause a
rather vicious cycle of overwhelming frustration. More guilt.
Deeper depression. Emotional paralysis. Withdrawal from life
activities. Deep sense of inadequacy and hopelessness.
Even a huge lack of physical energy.

This usually goes on for weeks then the mind will begin to clear
and life gets easier. Hope and motivation returns. For a while.
I'm not talking about the horrors of manic depression/bi-polar
rapid extreme cycles. Thank goodness that isn't me.

I was brought up to be strong, independent, self-sufficient, reliable,
never ask for help, take care of my own life... yada, yada, yada.

When I started to make mistakes in some of my life choices,
I was ashamed and rather surprised in my lack of perfection.
Why? FuckifIknow.
For some reason, I, in my naivete/ignorance expected to be
all-the-time happy, smart, productive, successful and loved.
No question. No doubt.
Why? FuckifIknow. Influenced by fairy tales and June Cleaver?


When my husband offed himself (eleven years ago yesterday), that
almost sent me over the edge. But, still I was determined to 'deal'
with all that brought to my life. By myself.
Let's just say that didn't work out very well.
I relented and started looking for help. First, in books about suicide
and depression. Then in a self-help group for people who lost loved
ones to suicide. That succeeded in making me angry, because ya know,
I wasn't like them. Surely, I was stronger and smarter and better...
riiiggghhht. Another perceived failure. Damn it, now what?

Insurance allowed visits with a psychologist. Co-pay was reasonable.
Appointment made, I showed up on time and sopped up a couple of
tissues in the first hour. Boo-hoo. Made another appointment.
After a few weeks, he suggested that I would benefit from medication.
Oh, no no no, says I. I can do this myself. No drugs for this woman.
Therapy continued, I was feeling better, he and I laughed a lot.
He discharged me after several months (when the allotted insurance-
approved visits ran out). I was fine (I thought) for about six months.
The demons returned in full force. I still can't completely grasp why
my employers did not can me, with plenty of good reasons, about a
hundred different times between then... and even now.

Side note: I found out about two years later, after my final final
therapy visit with this psychologist, that his wife had threatened
divorce after finding out that he had had affairs with more than
one of his female patients. I don't remember ever seeing a male
in his waiting room.

This is getting too long for one post. I'll continue in a day or so.


Erica said...

You are an awesome, deep, and complex person…that’s the primary, important thing that I find depression doesn’t change.

When I was a teenager I was incredibly depressed, confused, miserable, and my parents sent me to two different therapists, one of whom insisted upon putting me on anti-psychotic meds, which my parents vehemently objected to, and another one who simply listened to me, offered me valuable feedback that I desperately needed, and who I credit with setting me on my path to becoming a better person.

For some people medication helps, for some it may not be necessary…everybody is different and you need to do what you feel is right for you, so you can be happy, so you can get the best out of your life and the hand you’ve been dealt. What pisses me off (not at you, but at dooshbag ignoranuses [ignorant assholes, IOW]) is that you had to actually preface most of your post by saying, “Clinical depression is not a choice. It is not a spoiled brat whining for attention…”

I think it is so offensive and objectionable that people who have legitimate diagnoses feel the need to have to justify them to the world because of acutely uninformed dimwits (Michael Savage leaps to mind, may he be pelted with rotten fruit) who insist that these are made up illnesses…a “disease du jour,” as he called autism recently…and that people who have diseases which do not include limbs falling off, terminal cancer, and other horrible symptoms are not actually sick.

Depression is incredibly painful and anyone who has had it, or knows someone who has it, knows how awful it is. When you’re one woman doing battle against an army of demons, it can be the most harrowing experience in the world. I wish you only happiness and emotional and psychological sovereignty.

Anonymous said...

I understand more than you realize.


Corby said...


I too am faced with the problem of the never letting them see you struggle attitude. I have a terrible time fessing up to my weaknesses, and well your frankness and willingness to deal with your depression shows you have a ton of strength. For that I appreciate you and your blog, it is real life and you are a great tough lady.


Jean said...

Erica, it's very difficult for some people to accept an illness they cannot 'see' and it does, unfortunately, continue to carry a stigma. I also think that a lot of the people who refuse to understand and accept it for what it is might often be ones who strongly deny any kind of weakness in themselves. They would see themselves as failures and project that idea on others who dare to admit to a problem that takes much effort to control, and not always successfully.
Your understanding is like a hug.

X, I do realize.

Corby, I am still learning. It seems to be a neverending process.
Thank you for your support.

Desert Cat said...

Um, dear? I have dealt with mild clinical depression on and off. I understand the 'clinical' part of clinical depression. There often isn't a reason (except funky brain chemistry), so there is no blame. Please do whatever you need to--including medication if warranted--to work this through.

In my case I have a grip on it via a combination of herbs and supplements, but for heaven's sake, don't avoid pharmaceuticals for the alleged stigma! This is serious stuff and the "buck up and get over it" people can take a flying leap off Mt Everest. They haven't a clue.

Jean said...

ah, yes D.C. I fought taking meds for a while. Was finally convinced to try them and they did a good job. Weaned myself off after about 5 years and did well until about a year ago. I started a new one a month ago. It's working well.
Thank you for your input and concern, my friend.

dianne said...

Jeannie, I think that it is good that you are externalising your feelings in this way. Its terrible that we feel we have to apologise for having depression, the stigma seems to be there always. We dont seek sympathy but if we had a disease that was visible I think there would be more understanding.I can relate to all of those symptoms you have described,soul destroying, not nice, who would want them voluntarily? As far as the perfection is concerned I think it might have something to do with the era in which we grew up.We were just expected to behave in a certain manner that went against all the characteristics of normality. I thought that when I grew up everything would be perfect, I would be happy, meet the man of my dreams and live happily ever after. Not so, I think June Cleaver and her twin sets & pearls have created an ideal that never existed. Hang in there my dear, I know its a daily struggle and a yearning to feel normal, it will happen as I have told you and never feel ashamed, we have all made mistakes that we regret, none of us are perfect. :) xoxox

Sparrow said...

Love ya, Jeannie. Warts and all.

Let he who is without warts cast the first stone...

Doom said...

Whatever is wrong with me, I certainly have similarities. Do you ever feel that wrestling with yourself is a no-win situation? *grins* On the up side, you are still here. You are alive. And, you probably understand, now and finally(?), that there is an end to the episodes.

Maybe you will never be free from this, not here, not in this life. But you certainly can be free in your mind, I think. If you can let go what must be let go, I think you (and I) will do quite well. Perhaps even more. I am learning to work through my malaise. I am learning to let others, events, and demands command my flesh even when I feel it is not in my hands. It is not perfect, it reminds me of winter driving (white knuckle type), and when doing that, I am doing it blind. But...

Anyway, I hope you are in a better spot right now. If nothing else, I hope you know you are dear to some of us and to some of the people around you (yes, even when they do not like you).

I suppose I am done too. Shoot for the moon, worst thing that could happen is you will miss. Oh, and there are means of mitigating guilt, all of it. And, yeah, it works. Though my way may not be your way, I think there may be some way for you.

Hinsley Ford said...

Hi there..fellow blogger who deals with chronic health - including mental health - issues. Just found you in my travels and can tell I will love your blog and will add your to my rounds. Wow, as far as I can tell - you have been through more than your share. And you live to tell about it! How lucky we readers are that you do. It's good to know we're not alone. Thanks for your sharing and I'll keep reading - if you'll have me! :)

Come visit The Oxygen Chronicles when/if you can!

Hinsley Ford

Jean said...

Dianne, I am known for telling almost all of myself without much hesitation. People need to know they are not alone.
I'm doing much better. The new meds are working :-)

aw, Sparrow...heh. Love you, too.

Doom, you're home! Welcome back.
I think you are quite right. We have both improved and are on our way to doing even better. Patience and time are key, and often the most difficult part.
Thank you.

Hinsley, Welcome to my world.
I just visited your blog quickly. Will go back often.
Since, among many things, you are an accomplished writer, I might just have to take some notes :-)

boneman said...

....well, I got no answers, dear. (odd, that, eh?)
But, on the sidebar, a blog, PRISM, and at the very bottom of the page at her place (gotta look quick or you're stuck with "older posts" this:

"If you just whistle every now and then, Prism;
skip every thousandth step or so;
skim the odd stone across the odd pond;
go dancing on the occasional blue moon,

if only alone in the dark;
dress up sometimes, even with nowhere to go...

for simply stirring up some little bit of hope,
no matter how silly or disconnected your actions seem to be with the rest of the world,

magic flashes in the unseen,
friends are summoned,
connections are timed,
stars are aligned,
opportunities are crystallized
and serendipities are calculated,

creating possibilities for new realities that cannot now even be imagined from where you presently stand."

Shazaam -
The Universe

Sincerely a wise person there, eh?
( I dunno who 'Shazaam 'is, I'm speaking of Prism.

Jean said...

Thank you, Berry. That is quite beautiful.
(I knew all along it was ok to do strange things at strange times!)

Brigid said...

It takes an incredible amount of courage to get help when you recognize you need it. And those that do so, and stick with it, have my deepest respect. Life doesn't always deal us a hand that's equitable, you do what you can to even it up, to move on, into a winning situation.

You're brave for doing so, and smart.

Jean said...

Brigid, sometimes my stubbornness overrides my smarts. uh, there might even be a bit of ego involved :-)
Thanks for being here.

Mark said...

I figured you were bat-shit crazy!

Welcome to my world.

You know, I don't know you in real life. I think you are a good girl (and I mean that as in "hot babe") but I would figure that all in life is as it should be -- except for depression. It's not easy to be where you are and be confident. You have every right to be afraid.

Know that others have been where you've been. Know that others have made it through. Know that you will make it through. Know that I've been there and that I care.

The world isn't out to get you and the past has no claim on you. Look forward.

All my hopes,


Jean said...

ok, Mark...this just made the tears start. How sweet you are.
You have touched my heart.

We can do this, eh? Yes, we can!