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I have Major Depressive Disorder.  When I say that I'm "depressed," people assume that they know what that means.  Usually, they don't.  

This diary attempts to explain.  I feel pretty strongly that people need to understand this, that's why I talk about it.  

When I'm sick, I just disappear for a while, and few people ever experience the "depressed" me.  Below the fold, the "depressed" me is exposed.

"Depressed." That just means "sad," or "down," or "low," maybe "moody," or "unhappy."  Right?

Nope.  Not in Pam's Prickly Dictionary.

In my book, "depressed" means "self-loathing," "paralyzed," "angry," "crying for no reason," "not interested in anything," "unable to function."  Oh, and "suicidal."  Which goes along with "in the hospital."  I also call depression "the black pit."

When I'm just starting down the slippery slope into that black pit, I can act for a while.  Before I go someplace I tell myself, "Okay, time to put on the happy face."  And I smile and act like everything is okay.  But as soon as I leave, my face drops and I'm right back the way I was.  Or maybe worse, because playing the "happy" role is exhausting.  So I start limiting my interaction with other people.

After a while, the happy face cracks.  I can no longer put it on at all.  Then I just stay home.  It's a huge effort just to get to a doctor appointment.  If I have to go out, I just look down at the ground, trying to be invisible.

The people I love -- my husband, my daughter, my friends, my co-workers, my family -- I feel . . .  I know . . . that I'm a burden to them.  I have failed them all.  Of course, they'll never say that.

And I am such a disappointment to myself.  I was so smart.  I could have done so much more.  I should still do so much more.  But I can't.  I can barely take care of myself.

I get paralyzed.  I will sit or stand in one spot for half an hour.  Or more.  Like a statue.  With no thought process going on.  Sometimes I try to do something.  I want to take a shower, but I can't do it.  I want to go to work, but I can't do it.  I want to exercise, but I can't do it.  I mean PHYSICALLY I cannot do it.  Really.  Wish I could explain it.

I am angry.  At any big or little thing.  I get ferocious:  so angry that I cry and shake.  It is free-floating anger, ready to erupt at any time.  I feel sorry for the people who have to live or work with me.

I cry.  I sob.  For long periods of time.  Why?  Wish I could tell you, but I don't have the answer.  Something is screwed up inside my brain, I guess.

The beautiful things that I normally find joy in -- a blue sky, an adorable dog, a fuzzy caterpillar, God's amazing creation, sunshine (especially sunshine) -- just make me cry.  Why?  I haven't a clue.  

I am not interested in eating.  Not even chocolate.  I'm not interested in word puzzles or reading.  Or even politics.  Dear God, you know I'm sick when I'm not interested in politics or chocolate.  

I am in so much emotional pain that I cannot stand it.  And I cannot explain it.  It makes me scream when nobody else is around.  No words, just screams.  Somehow it feels like if I scream loud and long enough, the emotional pain will go away.  But it doesn't work.

I want to die.  But it's not a passing thought, like, "I might as well kill myself."  

Suicide is my old friend.  It comforts me.  I have been thinking seriously about it for a very long time.  I have read countless books about it.  It is my daily companion, even when I'm well.  I have several well-thought-out plans of how I can kill myself.  I know how to get past the fear of the pain of death itself.  Suicide is my plan B.

I often think that I'm going to die by suicide eventually anyway so I might as well just get it over with.  

But I have promised someone that I won't kill myself.  And I don't break my promises, especially to this person.  So now I am trapped.  There is no way out.  I am down in the black pit, death and pain are churning all around me, dragging me down and down, and there is No. Way. Out.

Sometimes I have to go to the hospital to keep from killing myself.  And then my insurance company gets to decide if I am sick enough to be admitted to the hospital.  Not my doctor, not my family, not the professional evaluator at the hospital, MY F**KING INSURANCE COMPANY.  Talk about a death panel.

Now I've been through this drill many times before.  And I have finally learned that I can get better.  I desperately try to hang on to that thought, to keep me from being swept down by the churning pit.  I even have a large tattoo on my leg to remind myself that I have gotten well before.

My doctor will add in a new medicine (already has, actually), and after a few weeks it may help (already hasn't, actually).  So now we'll try a different combination of medicine and give that a few weeks to work.  Patience is one of the unwanted lessons of depression.  But eventually, agonizingly slowly, I will start to feel better.  I hope.

Do you think I'm crazy for writing this, insane for feeling this way?  Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.  I only write for those whose minds are open enough to learn.  If you're not one of those people, then you can go straight to hell.  I'll be waiting for you here, because depression truly is hell.

Cross-posted from www.PricklyPam.com

Originally posted to www.PricklyPam.com on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:48 PM PST.

Also republished by Mental Health Awareness.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for posting (16+ / 0-)

    People who have never experienced depression often just don't understand. Sharing your story may help them, and it may help other people who feel the loneliness and pain of depression to know they are not alone.

    I hope you find relief soon. It does pass, but it takes its own time.

    I know.

    Zen is "infinite respect for all things past; infinite service to all things present; infinite responsibility for all things future."--Huston Smith's Zen Master

    by Ree Zen on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:53:16 PM PST

  •  Thanks. (13+ / 0-)

    I can relate. As a recovering alcoholic, depression is something I'm familiar with.

    •  I went through a bit of this (11+ / 0-)

      from alcohol induced depression, but stopping drinking eventually cleared it up. That is fairly simple in comparison with the problem that doesn't have an external cause.  

      •  depression comes (10+ / 0-)

        in all flavors.  It's so frustrating when it doesn't have an apparent external cause.  But I think it hurts either way.

        I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~~ Booker T. Washington

        by Prickly Pam on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:21:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I had the same the experience. (6+ / 0-)

        About 9 months into sobriety, I took the last of my prescribed meds and have never needed them since.

        I don't often share this because I don't want anyone to think I'm suggesting that what cured me would cure someone else. But you're first person in recovery I know of who had depression clear up the way my did. So there goes another bit of my "terminal uniqueness" lol.

        My depression, btw, was quite longstanding and severe as Pam's at times. I was hospitalized twice, both times with active suicidal ideation. The second time I was actually in a treatment center that was primarily focused on recovery from addictions - but I was firmly diagnosed with depression. That was several years before I came to the rooms, so I guess the seeds that were planted took root.

        Shop indie 4 the holidays! Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet & check out Kos Katalogue

        by jan4insight on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 10:19:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It has to be absolute hell trying to get sober (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nomandates, jan4insight, Ojibwa

          when you're dealing with depression.  I'm glad you had success with meds.

          And you make such a good point that what cures one person won't necessarily cure someone else.  Our brains are so unique and the chemistry within them is so complex that it's a miracle of science when they discover another piece of the puzzle.

          Oh, those planted seeds.  Sometimes many have to be planted, then many more folks have to water them and shed light on them, before they finally take root and grow.  

          Glad you're in the rooms, and congratulations on your hard-won sobriety!

          I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

          by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 05:29:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for writing this (14+ / 0-)

    Thank you for writing this.  I think you have done a great job of describing depression from the inside - and that is not easy to do.

    I agree with you - there is a broad misunderstanding in the general public about what depression is.  Were more people like yourself to talk about this, much of the stigma and misconceptions about depression would dissipate.

    Have you talked to your doctor about mindfulness and breathing exercises?  Some people find these very helpful.

     

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:56:02 PM PST

    •  You're welcome, Hugh. (9+ / 0-)

      Mindfulness and breathing exercises are very helpful to me, too.  

      Unfortunately, I can't usually make use of them until I'm starting to get better.  When I'm down in the pit, nothing seems to help.

      I was raised Catholic, and have an affinity for the rosary.  I recently bought a new one, and my new ritual is to use each bead to thank God, Goddess, Allah, Yahweh, Yeshua, Mary, Buddha, Confucius, for every big and small good thing in my life.  I just say one thank-you per bead.  

      I can usually do this even when I'm feeling antsy.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:28:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That is a very vivid description (13+ / 0-)

    that paints what a different world you have to deal with than people who are just having an occasional bad day. The neurobiology of these major mental disorders is beginning to emerge. It seems pretty clear that the problem has something to do with neurochemistry. It is not something that can be straightened out just by discussing your feelings with somebody.  

  •  I know how you feel. (11+ / 0-)

    My mother was hospitalized the first time in 1951.
    She attempted suicide once then.
    She attempted suicide in 1995, and then twice in the last 5 years.
     She passed away in Feb.
    My brother attempted suicide.
    I've thought about it in the past. I decided I wasn't cut out for suicide.

    Hang in there. That's all I know to say. My mother did well focusing on other persons' problems and needs.
    Fuck the fucking ins. companies.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 06:57:41 PM PST

    •  My mother was (9+ / 0-)

      also in the hospital in the 1950s.  It's another unique experience to have a depressed parent.

      I'm sorry you have lost her now.  But I'm also glad you decided you weren't cut out for suicide.

      And you have said the right thing --

      Hang in there. That's all I know to say.
      That's probably the best thing to do -- admit that you know you can't fix it, ask the person to hang in there, and just let them know you're there to listen if they want to talk.

      You hang in there, too.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:38:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ten Lies Your Depression Tells You -- (8+ / 0-)

    my favorite list about that giant liar, Depression.

    Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

    by teresahill on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:08:14 PM PST

  •  Have you talked to your doctor about ECT? (4+ / 0-)

    I know somebody who is doing ECT right now. Watch this video:

    Tyrion Lannister: "It's not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy."

    by psychodrew on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:20:20 PM PST

    •  This is such a powerful video. (5+ / 0-)

      My mom had "shock treatments" in the 50s.  She swore by them; she said they made her feel better right away.

      Fortunately, my depression isn't "treatment resistant," and meds have saved my life several times in the past.

      But I like what the guy in the video said about the ECT in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, that it set back mental health therapy.  He's right.  And that's sad.

      Thank you so much for sharing this video.  I hope videos like this will help turn the opinion of ECT back around again.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:54:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this (7+ / 0-)

    It is very difficult to describe, but you do an excellent job.  I am continually frustrated by people's inability to understand what an altered state it is if they haven't experienced it.  

    Good for you for making a promise.  I find that a useful anchor, too.

    •  Yes, the promise is good (5+ / 0-)

      but also very frustrating because I can't break it.  My therapist says I can't break it even "if I write a really good suicide note" as I have suggested to her.

      Thanks for the kind words, and boy do I know the frustration you're talking about.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:56:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Then there are the physical symptoms (8+ / 0-)

    Headaches, strange aches and pains, sometimes trouble breathing, fatigue...they feel real, they are real, but are caused by the black dog.

    That's the term I prefer, Churchill's black dog.

    A little bit of humor.  Just recently I stumbled upon one of those online self-diagnostic tests for depression.

    9 or more
    If you have been feeling this way for more than a couple of weeks, or if these feelings persist for more than a couple of weeks, and as a consequence your day to day functioning is impaired, there is a chance that you might be clinically depressed.
    My score? 24.  "...you might be clinically depressed..."  Ya think?  The bright light for me, my new insurance starts in a few  weeks.

    Join Essa in a revolt against the gods. Continue the fight, Causality.

    by rbird on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 07:53:38 PM PST

  •  What People Don't Realize About Acting or Refrain- (14+ / 0-)

    ing from acting, is that every least little thing you can do or even think, is supported by feelings of enjoyment or reward, and simultaneously restrained by feelings of pain, frustration, generally punishment.

    Even microscopically tiny acts, like scratching an itch, or turning your head to identify a sound, or remembering a child's voice, has to be able to trigger both reward and punishment so that you are able to be driven to achieve yet cautioned away from danger or obsession. Athletes, dancers, laborers, people in many different pursuits talk about striving to achieve by managing the balance between punishment and reward in their work.

    We have clinical depression in the family, I deal with it routinely.

    What happens is the reward volume knob gets turned down, but the punishment knob remains on normal.

    So the overton window of engaging in life is moved toward the dark side. All the negatives: fatigue, frustration, annoyance, complexity, aches and pains, sorrow, become more important because they're no longer being offset as much by the rewards of energy, delight, joy and such.

    Everyone curious about this should pick a simple act of life --let's say getting up off the couch or chair-- do it a few times, and half the times, concentrate on everything that feels good about it, try to think of feelings of legs, joints, the anticipation of being able to move away to do something fun. Other times, try to be aware of everything that feels bad about it, little aches, energy drain, bit of wobble of balance as you change position, frustration of some part of it not going as expected and you having to adapt.

    With depression, you're being starved of the positive, enjoying feedback, so the painful, frustrating, annoying, draining aspects are more in your awareness.

    And so life begins to retrain your thinking, expectations, your motivations, away from engaging and contributing, more toward avoidance and self-defense. So even if medication can correct the physiological responses, you've lived some time through a course of virtual brainwashing, and it may take time and possibly guidance to help change your expectations, to learn to do less flinching and more embracing of life, once it stops hurting you so much.

    The descriptions of this diarist fit very well with what I see in my family.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 08:10:38 PM PST

    •  I really like your analogy (6+ / 0-)

      about the "knob" being turned down or up.

      I want to respond to what you have written, but you have written is so well that I just can't think of anything to add.

      Thank you.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 08:17:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll check back a couple times tomorrow. Anything (6+ / 0-)

        you say I'll be happy to answer at least to say I saw it. This issue is so complicated.

        A relative of mine is a well known behavioral psychologist. I have none of his training, but I share his interest in human behavior, and maybe because I was also a programmer, some bit of intuition about things the brain machinery does. Even to this day the general public is light years behind appreciating how powerful and intimate to our entire experience of life our brains' reward/punishment systems are. The outdated axiom that we only "use" 10% of our brains has a sense of reality in that our brains do so much that is not methodical, conscious problem solving. There are all sorts of forms of intuition, which is problem solving disconnected from our language that we are able to use but not explain in words, but there's also this so under appreciated motivational system.

        Another incarnation and I'd love to get the education and have the chance to delve into this subject and try to find some ways to help with these problems.

        I so hope you are able to find a path of relief and optimism for your life. It's probably like coping with substance abuse in that you take it a day at a time. The hopeful difference here is that there is a lot of work being done on the subject, so if you can hang on maybe better answers will be found for you not so long from now.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 09:11:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Gooserock, are you sure (3+ / 0-)

          you're not me?

          I was in IT for 30-some years, used to program in Assembler.  It was a wonderful puzzle to put together a program then.  Now it's nothing but using some software package.  

          I have about three other careers I want to pursue.  Just started a new one a few years ago after retiring from IT job.  

          You are right about substance abuse and one-day-at-a-time.  When I'm "well," I still work pretty hard to stay out of the black pit on a daily basis.  Lots of psych workers telling me that I over-analyze.  Well, yeah, I say, that's what I do for a living.  Even now, working as a peer specialist, I think my analytical skills are useful to my clients.  

          I'm 60 now.  I think I have another 30 good years in me.  Still thinking about going for a master's degree, just not sure which direction to head.  

          Thanks for your support on this.  This is my maiden voyage as a diarist, and it's great to see the number of comments and recs.  

          I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

          by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 05:02:00 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  A splendid description (6+ / 0-)

      A tunnel with no light at the end...

      I am an Elizabeth Warren Democrat

      by chuckvw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 08:27:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is a great way to approach the issue. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prickly Pam, nomandates

      You have done a good job in not "blaming the victim" here, and I appreciate that, Gooserock.  I hadn't thought of the sort of brainwashing that goes on, and the correction or overwriting that may need to happen once the chemistry is balanced.  Although I have done therapy while on meds (had an appt. Wed.) and I do believe that it helps me to see things from a different perspective, it just didn't occur to me that it IS like erasing those past negative feedback loops.  Thanks!

      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. -Dwight D. Eisenhower, US general and 34th president (1890-1969)

      by Spirit of Life on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 07:56:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A difficult symptom for me is the lack of acuity (10+ / 0-)

    I started a new job a couple of weeks ago, and I find myself making dumb mistakes, and then constantly worrying that I will make a dumb mistake... I read the same paragraph over and over again before I can just about make sense of it.  It's really not sadness in the way that most people experience sadness. More like a computer with a bad hard drive.

    I am an Elizabeth Warren Democrat

    by chuckvw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 08:21:05 PM PST

  •  I was told this: (6+ / 0-)

                   

    Depression Colors Everything

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 08:41:52 PM PST

  •  Sorry, also meant to say that this is a very (5+ / 0-)

    courageous and helpful diary.

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 08:42:50 PM PST

  •  thank you. (6+ / 0-)

    Conservatism is killing this country. Jayden

    by swampyankee on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 09:10:32 PM PST

  •  I've been there, and you did a damn fine (9+ / 0-)

    job of describing what it feels like.

    fwiw, one of the best resources I ever found to help me through times of the dark pit (which I also called my dark night of the soul) was a book by a depression survivor called How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me. The suggestions the author gave were so practical, so real - things like turn on all your lights, to immediately brighten your surroundings. I did that more than once - morning, noon or night - when I needed to get through a black patch. Amazingly, just the action of going around turning on the lights was sometimes enough to end the black spell. It was kind of like a physical affirmation that, yeah, I really wanted to live after all.

    My best wishes to you, and again thank you for writing.

    Shop indie 4 the holidays! Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet & check out Kos Katalogue

    by jan4insight on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 10:25:44 PM PST

    •  I will have to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, jan4insight, rubyr

      find that book.  It sounds like a winner for me.

      Funny, I do that now with the lights.  First thing I do in the morning is turn on all the lights in the kitchen and living room.  I feel like it helps, but I just don't know how.  After your comments, it sounds like I may be barking up the right tree!

      Gonna go put that book on my wish list now...

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 05:10:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  funny thing (4+ / 0-)

      My response to this diary (which is wonderful, by the way) was going to be to say that one of the examples I use to describe my depression is about a light.

      My depression is often deepened by the fading light of winter. I have a full spectrum light on my desk at work that I try to use on dark days. It definitely helps me, especially when I'm consistant about it.

      The light switch is about 3 feet from where I sit. All I have to do is lean forward a bit and twist the little knob.

      And some days
      I
      Just
      Can't
      Do
      It.

      I'll sit there and think that I should turn it on. That turning on the light will help. That I'm such a failure that I can't even lean forward and turn on a fucking knob.

      That's depression.

      "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more often likely to be foolish than sensible." -- Bertrand Russell

      by wide eyed lib on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 08:07:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is depression at full tilt. I am no (4+ / 0-)

        cheerleader, because I know how hard it can be, but keep leaning forward. Some days you will be able to twist the knob, and some days, not, but as long as you keep leaning, the light will, sometimes, be on.

        "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

        by rubyr on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 10:53:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  A gentle suggestion: (3+ / 0-)

        when you have the energy to do it, put your lamp on a timer so it goes on automatically.

        And yeah, I agree with the others who have said - that's depression!

         Funny thing about the turn-on-the-lights-on advice - when I did this I was able to actually get off the couch and do it even though moving was the last thing I wanted to do. I think something about just walking around the house turning on the lights helped break the inertia.

        To be fair though, I don't really have the SAD condition as it's commonly understood. Fall into winter is my very favorite season and I will take any fall or winter day over the deepest part of summer. If I have a season that increases my depression, it's summer.

        Just goes to show - one size does not fit all!

        Shop indie 4 the holidays! Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet & check out Kos Katalogue

        by jan4insight on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 12:19:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, THAT'S definitely (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wide eyed lib, nomandates

        depression.  Especially

        I'll sit there and think that I should turn it on. That turning on the light will help. That I'm such a failure that I can't even lean forward and turn on a fucking knob.
        Thank you so much for sharing that thought process.  It helps me feel that I'm not the only one that's so overwhelmed by a seemingly small task.

        The solstice is fast approaching, and the light will come back, and your depression will improve.  Please hang in there.

        I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

        by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 12:57:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Just put this book on hold at the library. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, Prickly Pam, nomandates

      Will not ever get a job again (kidding). Thanks very much, jan.

      "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

      by rubyr on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 10:49:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Important diary. You brought together (7+ / 0-)

    different people, many who've shared helpful insight of their own or through links they've provided. I was going to skip reading it, and I'm glad I didn't. It has helped me, as I bet it has helped others. Thank you.

  •  Thank you, Pam. I did, indeed, learn from (6+ / 0-)

    this diary. I appreciate your writing it. Someone close to me gets severely depressed. He refuses to explain or elaborate. Your words have done that for him.

    "I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." -Susan B. Anthony

    by BadKitties on Thu Dec 12, 2013 at 10:54:23 PM PST

    •  I'm so glad it was helpful. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, rubyr

      It's really hard to explain what's going on when you're in the midst of it and someone asks about it.  It's much easier when you have some days to organize your thoughts and to sharpen your points.

      Thank you for letting me know you learned something worthwhile from it.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 05:18:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Pam. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prickly Pam, nomandates, rubyr

    I recognize so much of what your wrote ... I offer a hug if you accept hugs.    

    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

    by Joy of Fishes on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 04:40:15 AM PST

  •  Having lived with a major depressive disorder for (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates, rubyr, Prickly Pam

    most of my life I thank you for your courage in posting this.....

    •  You are welcome. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates

      And thank you for reading and acknowledging.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 12:59:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is something I think all the time: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates, rubyr, Prickly Pam
    "I was so smart.  I could have done so much more."
     That resonates with me. So does:  
    "The people I love -- my husband, my daughter, my friends, my co-workers, my family -- I feel . . .  I know . . . that I'm a burden to them.  I have failed them all.  Of course, they'll never say that."

    Also, the paralysis:  I call it "getting stuck on the stairs", after a time I was literally stuck on the stairs for about half an hour, because deciding whether I should go up or down was too much.  

    •  This is helpful because now I can say (3+ / 0-)

      "I'm just stuck on the stairs" and that might help clarify which way I need to go.

      "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

      by rubyr on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 10:55:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm so glad some of what I wrote (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ashes of Roses, nomandates

      resonates.  Just reading and responding to all you folks' comments makes me feel better.  

      Dear God, I didn't realize that so many "normal" people, whose comments and diaries I read, are fighting the same battle.  It's so good to know, even as it's so bad to know, that so many of us have this disorder.  Imagine what we could all accomplish if we were well.

      Thank you.  Also, the phrase "getting stuck" is a good one.  And now when it happens to me, I can remember that I'm not the only one who does it.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 01:06:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, and a couple of thoughts... (3+ / 0-)

    A fellow traveler, I recognize. Well written. A couple of works I have found useful for both those who haven't been there and those who have, one short and one longer: "darkness visible" by William Styron and "the noonday demon: an atlas of depression" by Andrew Solomon. And a book filled with humor for when you feel up to it, "hyperbole and a half: unfortunate situations, flawed coping mechanisms, mayhem and other things that happened" by Allie Brosh.

    Best expression I heard about recovering was from a young woman, maybe in her teens, who externalized the depression by referring to it as this big monster. Treatment was about getting the damn thing into a box, or at least a room with a door, still scary but contained. As she progressed she "made" the box smaller and smaller. Interviewer asked if it was now gone and she laughed and said "oh, no, but the box is small enough now. He is always with me, but contained in a manageable way." I found her courageous and the visual helpful.

    One last thing, and sorry for the length: I found out I have an inherited gene mutation that affects how the body processes certain amino acids which are all relevant to effective functioning of neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, etc) AND B vitamins. Both parents had it. Both were depressed. My mom knew about the defect (called it an allergy to B vitamins) but not about any protocol for managing it. B is essential for energy and has a big impact on mental fatigue too. Deficiency is a factor in The Big D. Taking methylated folate and methylated cobalamin makes a major difference for most who have it. May be worth testing. Happy to share more if interested.

    And yes, hang in there.

    Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that would be one step toward obtaining it. --Henry David Thoreau

    by pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 07:08:56 AM PST

    •  pam, where can you get methylated folate (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pam, rubyr, Prickly Pam, nomandates

      that isn't the one and only brand name that my doctor knows of?

      Insurance will not pay for Deplin, because it is a "medical food" or vitamin.  The brand name would cost almost $112 for a one month supply, which is way out of my financial abilities.  No-one seems to know of any generic versions.

      The samples I was given helped me feel more "normal", boosted the effect of the antidepressants I think.

      Also, what is methylated cobalamin?

      Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. -Dwight D. Eisenhower, US general and 34th president (1890-1969)

      by Spirit of Life on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 08:07:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Methylated b vitamins (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Prickly Pam, nomandates

        Hi -- I got a complex which has about four ingredients including methyl folate, p5p, methyl cobalamin, and betaine. I'm not in front of the container right now, so can't give amounts of each but I have heard deplin is at a MUCH higher dose and for some may result in a bit of an overload. (A small amount of niacin is said to alleviate effects of too much folate in a hurry... Acts like a sponge for the excess.)
        I am certain I didn't pay anything like $100+ for the supplement which is called "methyl protect". I got it from a naturopath directly.
        Methyl cobalamin is an already methylated form of b12 that is more easily absorbed by people who have problems with this methylation pathway. It costs a little more than other forms of b12 but at least you are not wasting any!

        Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that would be one step toward obtaining it. --Henry David Thoreau

        by pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 08:28:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  wonderful thoughts, and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, pam

      don't apologize for length!  You need to use as many words as you need to use :)

      I read the Styron book a while back but don't recall the other two, so I'll have to look into them.  You are the second person who has recommended the Hyperbole book.

      The first thing my doc added to the mix was the Deplin -- he gave me samples for four or five weeks.  It didn't make any difference, so apparently I'm not one of the ones with the errant gene.

      And thanks for another good analogy for depression -- the monster.

      Oh, and especially thanks for the kind words about my diary.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 02:47:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That was (4+ / 0-)

    probably the best description of depression I've ever read. My family is wonderful but they think of depression as someone just being "too" sad. It's not that, but I can't find words to express it. You expressed it perfectly. For me this started as far back as second grade. I remember thinking that none of the other kids hid under the desks to cry for no reason and I must be crazy. Especially since ten minutes later I'd be running around feeling on top of the world. It took another twenty years for some doctor to explain I'm not sad, I'm not crazy, I'm bipolar. And I'm an ultradian cycler so these ups and then crashes down can happen four, five times a day.

    It took another ten years but they finally hit on the right meds for me. I don't know if it would help others or not, but they began treating me with a seizure medication. It works.

    So we're different, but I get it. I can't ever know your depression of course, but I know mine and I know all the med changes and the waiting and all the doctors and the therapy and the hoping, hoping this time it works. I'm just a stranger on the net but I'll be thinking of you.

    •  That's probably the most (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates

      maddening (pun intended) thing about psychiatric illnesses.  The waiting.  The fucking waiting.

      Mine started when I was about 13, but it was depression all the way, no cycling.  So that's good at least.  

      I saw multiple counselors, but not one of them diagnosed depression.  It was my obstetrician who finally got it when I was 32!

      You're not a stranger any more, lill.  God bless you.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 02:56:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wrote a diary about my bout (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prickly Pam, nomandates

    with clinical depression. It was the culmination of too much stress, too many losses over a 7 year period. I hadn't been able to properly mourn my first husband's death because we'd lost my grandmother the month before--and my father ordered me not to talk about him or cry in front of my mother. Then I fell into the life of a military wife--at the age  39, and was completely unprepared for the sheer stupidity. The last straw was being unemployed (again) and having to live in base hoiusing that looked like it was falling apart (it was; mostly things worked, sort of, but it was tiny, ugly and horribly uncomfortable at all seasons).

    I got angry, and I cried. I slept a lot. And I developed the Mystery Illness that left me with chills and fever--I ran a low-grade fever constantly--combined with chronic sinusitis.  It took 6 months tog et rid of the Mystery Illness.  The only reason I wasn't suicidal was that would give the Navy what it wanted: I'd be out of their hair.

    I did succeed however in  getting the base's entire counseling staff fired--it was the msot underused facility on base because the staff went through the motions without actually helping anyone--a sinecure for people who'd worked there for years, assuming no one owuld complain. I led a small revolution.

    ANd I finally started sleeping well. It turned out I have night terrors, soimething which  usually afflicts small chiuldren and which they outgrow. Nightmares several times a nigh, waking up without remembering, sometimes screaming or crying.  I had no idea I did this, but my huaband was able to tell the docotr. The emds for depression straightened that out. Thank Goddess for Elavil. Grief and stress and night terrors were enough to make me very, very physically ill.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 11:33:26 AM PST

    •  I am so impressed with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates

      your "small" revolution on the military base.  Wow!  I hope you were well enough to take satisfaction in your revolution when it was happening!

      Sometimes my depressions are caused by external stressors, and sometimes they just come out of nowhere.  But stress will definitely do it to you if you are predisposed genetically.

      I am so glad you finally found out what was going on and that there was help for it.  And I'm so glad you shared your thoughts with us here.

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 03:07:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ANger kept me going. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Prickly Pam

        I was sent a survey by DoD. I typed up two pages worth of info on the counselor who was incompetent to say the least.   My husband talked to other people around the base--and they'd had problems too.   So we encouraged them to fill out the survey or file complaints.  Base medical and Family Services had real issues.  Because I had angry depression of the flight surgeons wanted to hospitalize me--which was not necessary. My hsuband went in, told him "I am not an E now. Youa re not an I. I am pissed-off husband, and you're just a doctor."
         And he explained in words of one syllable WHY I was angry (this ass had never seen our 600 feet of hovel, had no9 clue what housing was like, didin't grasp that a woman in her 40s who0 was well-eduicated, childless by chocice, a writer, a WIccan and a feminsit did not have tons in common with junior E housing wives--15 years older, totally diufferent life experience, no firends.   Dopctor actually listened.

        I got a Ph.D off base whow as terrific.  I have since concluded I do better with male doctors than female for soem reason. The base coundelor was a clincial social worker who, she ade clear at the end, disliked me intensely.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Fri Dec 13, 2013 at 08:27:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nice job! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          irishwitch

          Thanks very much for sharing some more of your story.  

          I love this:

          I am pissed-off husband, and you're just a doctor
          and
          he explained in words of one syllable
          I'll bet you didn't have tons in common with this base counselor, either.  Women who don't conform to the norm just confuse the hell out of women who do.  And so they think there's something wrong with the non-conformist.  Or they just plain dislike her.

          Oh, but I guess we could write a whole 'nother diary about THAT.  And Wicca.  Which is a fascinating topic all on its own.

          Thanks again, irishwitch.

          I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

          by Prickly Pam on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 06:30:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  She was used to working with hte normal young (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Prickly Pam

            E wife. These were often girls with little education, early 20s, from small town., with kids, and conservative Christian, and jobs at low levels. I was educated, professional, older, NOT CHristian, didn't want children. SHe couldn't understand why telling me to join a church (worked for many wives; covens don't advertise), volunteer at my kid's school or daycare (no kids; don't enjoy small children unless I control the situation and can kick them out of storyhour), etc. Every week she'd tell me the same thing. Every week I['d explain why that wasn't gonna work.

            Last time I sw her, she was starting on the leist AGAIN and I told her not again. I also told her I wasn't coming back. SHe stood up and glared at me and announced, "You will never get help because yopu're too angry, the angriest cl;ient I've ever had."

            IANd then she said, "I am gonna have the last word--"

            I said fromt he doorway. "No, you're not. I am. ANd it's 'goodbye."

            OI had opne good therapist who was female over the years.  And 4 good male therapists. I don't seem to piss off men as much.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Sat Dec 14, 2013 at 11:51:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Unless you've experienced it firsthand... (0+ / 0-)

    ...you cannot comprehend how bad it can be.  I would not wish it on another human being, under any circumstances.

    Finally, after more than 40 years of intermittent anxiety & depression, I was diagnosed last summer with PDD - Persistent Depressive Disorder - a milder, yet chronic form of MDD that has the potential to flare up into major episodes.  I have experienced every single thought & feeling that Pam has described - more frequently, even continually, than I care to acknowledge.

    If you don't suffer from depression, consider yourself fortunate.  If you do, get help.  Re-read Pam's symptoms, and if more than a few of them apply to you, get help and get it now!

    All that is necessary for the triumph of the Right is that progressives do nothing.

    by Mystic Michael on Wed Dec 18, 2013 at 09:21:24 PM PST

    •  Good advice, Mystic Michael. (0+ / 0-)

      to all -- those who don't suffer, and those who do.  

      Were you able to get any relief after your PDD diagnosis?  

      I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. ~ Booker T. Washington

      by Prickly Pam on Fri Dec 20, 2013 at 06:41:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fortunately, yes. Thanks for asking. (0+ / 0-)

        The shrink suggested Wellbutrin (aka Bupropion), so I got a script for it and have been using it since late July.  It took a good six to seven weeks for it to begin working, but since then life has been better.

        I have more energy, feel somewhat more in control, have a better outlook on life.  And Wellbutrin doesn't have the nasty side effects of Lexapro, which I had used intermittently a few years before.

        I still must be careful to monitor my thoughts, and be proactive about reprogramming them when necessary (and when possible).  I have to be careful about getting a good night's sleep and staying physically healthy, because when I become sick or sleep-deprived, I can lose control.  But I seem to be making progress.  Will try CBT soon, to see if it can assist me to gain some additional perspective & insight.

        Hang in there, Pam!

        All that is necessary for the triumph of the Right is that progressives do nothing.

        by Mystic Michael on Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 07:37:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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