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Living With Depression- Guest Post with Cindy
Today I have a very special guest, a very special friend, that I have asked to do a guest post on: Living With Depression. Before Cindy tells her story, I want to give you some background on our friendship, which started about five years ago. Cindy and I have never met in person. Someday, I hope we can change that.
Cindy and I met through blogging. We went to many of the same blog parties, which when I first stated blogging 5 years ago, were huge. Cindy came to my blog often and she was the first person to ever leave me a comment, a fact I don’t even think she knew about until now. She followed my blog and I hers.
I went to Cindy’s blog, Just North of Wiarton and South of the Checkerboard, because I really liked the way she wrote and I thought she had a funny, quirky way about her. Another thing I found remarkable was the fact that Cindy blogged every single day….365 days a year, for 5 years. That’s almost unheard of in blogging. Actually unheard of in many areas.
Over time, Cindy and I talked a few times on the phone, sent each other cards and treats. Now we text each other…often:) Even though we have never met in person, I feel like I have known Cindy my whole like. They say everyone has a twin somewhere in this vast world of ours and I believe that’s true. Cindy lives in Canada and I live in Wisconsin, so we’re not that far apart…as far as the geese flies.
I would like to introduce you to my Canadian friend, Cindy.
My name is Cindy. I have been dealing with depression most of my 58 years, actually since my early teens….
I always felt something was wrong with me, however could never find out what it was that was going on inside me. Always very sensitive, overwhelmed, lonely, with many mixed feelings. I have always thought in Black or White terms. Never being able to figure out there were grey areas in-between, to figure out my emotional reactions to conversations, gestures, always assuming the worst, or thinking how people were judging me.
My name is Cindy, I have been dealing with depression most of my 58 years…
There was a period in my life I felt I was totally out of control. Drinking, partying until the wee hours of the morning, dragging myself into my job the next day. I could go on a couple of hours sleep or no sleep at all. After I had met my present husband, I still struggled with constant worry and I was either up or down, not really anything in between. Doctors had me on medications for depression, but even the highest dose of Paxil I was prescribed didn’t touch the depressive state I was in.
When we moved 15 years ago, it was not a decision I should have made when I was in a depressed state. I have always been indecisive, double thinking my decisions. Regardless, I still was up and down for years after our move. About 5 or 6 years ago, I started back to going on 2 hours of sleep at night. By this time in my life, I had quit drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes (they both go hand in hand it seems). I was like the Energizer Bunny, taking on everything and anything. I could volunteer, get all that needed doing on a daily basis at home, and seemingly, always running the roads for someone or something.
Three years ago, something went *click* in my brain. I crashed, going into the worse depressive state I have ever been in, in all of my life. This time I was unable to “shake it” after a couple of weeks time. My wonderful Doctor, who I am most fortunate to have his support and empathy, started treating me with various anti-depressants over a year and a half period.
What happened then? I couldn’t conquer my depression. Having very little good days in that period of my life. I put on 62 lbs, which made me even more depressed as self image is very important to me, especially when I never had a weight problem most of my life.
Things got worse for me. I stopped cleaning my house, I stopped cooking, I stopped having people over to our house, my flower beds, which I always took such pride in got overgrown and unattended. It was a struggle just to do dishes, laundry, make the bed on a daily basis and never mind looking after my hygiene, such as brushing my teeth and showering on a regular basis.
Every time I went out of the house, with my perfect mask on so nobody could see what I was really feeling, I would come back home, walk by the mess (which was making me sicker by the way), and plant myself on the couch. I would look at the clock wishing dinner had came and went so I could go to bed. When I would go to bed, getting some sort of sleep, I welcomed what little sleep I got so I didn’t have to worry about my mind working overtime.
I cried all the time, I was lonely all the time, even when I was around friends or family. I was insecure, fearful of dying, accidents, almost anything, always thinking the worse was going to happen. Negative thoughts consumed me. It is extremely exhausting being sick for so long, for putting a “face” on so nobody could see me as I really was, putting forth energy when I barely had any in reserve …. beyond exhausting some days.
The things I used to tell myself, which barely worked anymore, were “others have it way worse, I don’t have it so bad” or “I need to suck it up and get myself together” even that was a wrong way to think, as I was living my own nightmare. Those statements ceased working for me on any level over time.
Two years ago, after over a year of anti-depressants, insomnia, not to mention menopause, my doctor asked me “how my moods were”. I told him my thoughts were going 90 miles an hour, and I wasn’t able to stop it. He was so apologetic for never asking me this question before. The diagnosis of Bipolar came into play, with the manic state I had been in before the depressive state began. He prescribed Lithium for me. That was another horrible experience, with extensive sweating and loose bowels. After a month of that, Dr. David took blood which showed the Lithium was not working. By this time he had referred me to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with Bipolar 2, putting me on yet another medication which had been Latuda.
No changes came about with the Latuda. Back to the psychiatrist, who then prescribed Lamotragine. I started seeing a bit of an improvement. I began doing more again then what I had been doing. I started walking on a daily basis and I began losing weight. I was able to socialize a bit more then I had been. I might add I needed a tremendous amount of support thorough those times, and even to this day.
I thank God everyday for my husband, who felt helpless not being able to help me, but who supported me the best he could. Thank goodness he knows how to cook or there would have been no meals made for the past couple of years. Not everyone is as fortunate to have such a wonderful soulmate and husband.
Another half year had passed by, September arrived (last year) and I crashed again. It was horrible, as I was having suicidal thoughts again, along with the depression. My doctor began seeing me every two weeks, as he had done before. I went back to counselling again for about the third time since the depression got darker the three years prior.
I found a program being offered by a hospital 2 1/2 hours from where we live. It was a program for mental illnesses such as Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar, PSTD, Borderline Personality Disorder. I was referred by my Doctor, and accepted, leaving in November to stay at the facility. I was allowed home on weekends. After staying the first weekend however, it took me two weeks to get home for a weekend pass as there had been a terrible ice/snow storm, making it unsafe for my husband to come get me.
It was difficult being away from home for such a long period of time. At the facility there were group sessions on all sorts of ways to learn tools on how to overcome your illness, not to cure it, just to be able to deal with it. I was discharged in January 2018, a month early, since my insurance had changed up to a new company who told me I was no longer covered for my stay at this particular hospital.
I had been devastated that I was not able to complete the program, as I was desperate for help by this time. Back at home I crashed once again. I sat at my dining room table coloring day in, day out for over a month. I came undone again to the point where I was hospitalized. My doctor at that point added an anti-depressant to go along with the Bipolar medication, Lamotragine. I also take a mild drug to help me when I find my anxiety gets too much for me.
The side effects of the anti-depressant were horrific, lasting six weeks. I paced the floor, I cried, I was nauseous…I was drowning in my sickness. After the six weeks of side effects, I still struggled on a daily basis, making myself get out of bed, do the dishes, go for a walk with a friend…it got a wee little bit better for me, but something was still going on as the distorted thinking stayed with me, as well as the panic attacks from past incidents or present fears.
Back to my doctor, who I was still seeing every two weeks. My distorted way of thinking, which I had learned from a very young age, along with anxiety, fear of dying and being abandoned, brought my doctor to the realization, not only did I have Bipolar, I also had Borderline Personality Disorder and an Anxiety Disorder.
Now one would think, as I did…What do you do about having a Borderline Personality Disorder? Apparently there is Life after BPD. Since it is instilled in a person at a very young age due to trauma. Mine being a lack of nurturing and protection early in life from my parents as they were alcoholics…. So what can be done for BPD?
My doctor referred me to a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group, which I begin at the end of this month, once a week for 5 months. It will teach me how to change my black and white thinking, how to figure out there are gray areas in life that really aren’t always meant to make me feel anxious, depressed and fearful. I am being very hopeful I will gain the tools I need to change my thinking, and be able to practice them daily throughout the remainder of my lifetime moving forward.
This has been me on and off for years, this is me constantly for the most part the last 3 years when I crashed into a Bipolar Depressive state, it has been hard for me to enjoy life on any consistent level. I hardly ever am able to experience peace of mind. I am often fearsome, worrisome and unhappy. I don’t like being the way I am but I don’t know how to change. Things are too much work, even the smallest tasks, and no one understands the way I feel. I wear myself out with my thoughts, and “what if” thinking. I can be happy and confident again, I just need a clear plan of action and the right tools.
For the past two years I have kept searching for help to make my being feel better, and to change my way of thinking. I went to counselling every week, I went to see my Doctor every two weeks, I went to every program I could find with peers to support my illnesses and I forced myself to get up every day even if I only managed to be productive such as making the bed and doing some dishes.
People with Mental Illnesses are not looking for attention, or sympathy, but for empathy, support, understanding and hope, that they will some day succeed. How does one succeed? By pushing yourself to find the right medications, help and support for your illness. It is difficult but try not to give up, as my Doctor said, “I didn’t become like this overnight, the depression and the BPD won’t go away overnight either.”
The Bipolar will always be present, as it is a mental illness, I believe genetically for myself. However, with the proper medications and support, one can live a somewhat normal life for the most part.
My personal thoughts on Mental Illness? It is something people can’t see, so we who are or have suffered with any kind of Mental Illness need to on behalf of yourself, encouraging others to understand with hopes the stigma of mental illness will be less and less as time goes forward.
Always do your best to reach out for help, wether it be with a family member, close friend, medical professional, group support, or a hotline for such illnesses. It is not a bed of roses, however pushing ourselves might give us just a single rose each and every day.
May you who suffer all be blessed with a hopeful future, and live a fulfilling life. My journey continues with more hope then I felt for a very long time. God Bless.