Friday, February 1, 2013
Honestly? I've had some life changing experiences over the last year that I am compelled to share for some reason. I don't particularly enjoy the thought of exposing myself to the world to be judged, critiqued, dissected, or misunderstood, but I'm particularly interested in mental health, well being, social ills, and I think many readers might be too.
Almost a year ago, I suffered a major emotional collapse, a melt down, and was taken off work for, at that time, twelve weeks. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder over twenty years ago, and I thought I was managing it fairly well... until last year. I will provide more details of my journey in later posts but to get to the answer of "why blog"?
After I had begun to recover from my most recent depressive episode last July, I was speaking with a woman at a social gathering, a friend of a friend, who was intrigued by my openly discussing my illness, and she began to ask me questions about it. Finally, she admitted she had two friends who had committed suicide, sadly, due to depression, and she couldn't understand why they would do that. She was confused and angry years after the fact. She painfully stated that they wouldn't go to doctor's appointments, they stopped taking their medication, and she believed if only they had done those things, perhaps they would still be alive today. I was extremely sympathetic to her position. I gently and compassionately explained to her that that's what depression is.... hopelessness. Her friends probably didn't believe the medication would help and stopped taking it or the side effects were so terrible, they couldn't deal with it; they most likely didn't have the desire or motivation to go to the doctor because for people with depression, the simplest task, showering, changing your clothes, brushing your teeth, eating become incredibly difficult because their brains are lieing to them and telling them they simply don't care any more when in actual fact, when they feel well, they do care. During a severe depressive episode, people stop living and merely exist, they breathe and that's all, and it's painful to live like that day after day. They feel shame because they judge themselves by comparing their behaviour to everyone else's, and that shame forces them to isolate which worsens the depression because now they also feel alone, unworthy, useless, and unloved. I explained to her that it wasn't as easy for them as simply taking their meds or going to the doctor and finally they decided to end their pain, and they probably made it a split second decision. It wasn't planned, just a way to stop the pain and sadness. I explained I can't say for certain that all that was the case for her friends, but it was the case for me, that's how I felt, but I had people all around me who would not let me isolate, so I was saved.
She listened attentively as I talked, and I could see her body and face soften as she slowly began to understand or at least see things the way her friends may have seen them. She admitted no one knew what to do for either of them, so they were just left alone. That is often the case with people with mental illness, family and friends want to help, but they don't know how, so they just stay away feeling almost as helpless as their depressed loved one.
It was a pretty serious conversation for a social gathering, but she seemed interested, and I didn't mind sharing. We returned to our friends to chat and not appear anti-social, but when it came time for her to leave, she made a point of finding me. I will never forget the look of sadness and relief in her eyes as she graciously thanked me for answering so many questions that she had been unable to ask her friends. She seemed as if a weight had been taken from her shoulders; a quiet anger perhaps, she had been carrying for a long time could now be released, it served no purpose any more.
That's why I'm starting a blog. If sharing my experience with her could bring such relief and understanding, then maybe I can do the same for others. I am passionate about promoting awareness, and I do my research so if what I write brings relief to even one other person, or helps break down the stigma just a little, or if I can stimulate discussion by communicating my experiences, or what I most hope for, if what I write gives someone the courage to seek help then it will be more than worth the time it takes to write about the view from here. I hope you'll share this with one person who may be interested or who needs to know they're not alone. Thanks for reading!
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