Depression: Trudging through the mud with chains on my back while trying to keep my head above water
Here comes the sun
It’s been a long, cold winter
When I look back to when I have been depressed, I see sadnesses but there is so much more to it then that.
Life becomes a chore, all of it. Getting through each and every day is exhausting
And I look forward most to going to bed at night and sleeping and being in the quiet
But when I wake, I don’t feel refreshed, I feel tired and want to keep sleeping
Getting up is challenging
Getting up and starting my day takes a lot of effort
Leaving me with a half empty tank for the rest of my day
And some days, getting up takes nearly all my tank and so I am left running on fumes all day
Until I can go to bed again.
I manage to do the essentials, feed my children, feed myself
When I am depressed, I eat, too much
Trying to find comfort in food, but the comfort never comes
Leaving me feeling heavy and disappointed further pushing me down
I manage to wash clothes, I like doing laundry, the only cleaning task I truly like
Something about the simplicity of laundry and the reward
Sort the colors, fill the washer, add the soap and turn the dials
I get myself and my kids to the things we must do, are committed to
I get myself to work and get through the day
I don’t enjoy work very much and it feels like WORK
There are moments of pleasure and times where I feel good at work, work gives me a. Feeling of accomplishment
When I am working, I feel competent, because I have been an Occupational Therapist for 25 years
And I know the routine
I complete an eval, setting goals and then reassess them 3-4 weeks later and see the progress, or lack of it
And when they have reached their maximum potential, I complete the discharge paperwork with reassessment again.
It is logical and familiar.
I am a good therapist and I know what I am doing.
Yet, i have many moment so “I don’t want to do this anymore” seeing all the flaws in the system
And the problems that need fixing and it frustrates me beyond belief
Yet while I am at work, I probably am functioning my best
Thinking about it now, recalling how coming home is always challenging when I am depressed,
I think it is because I come home to “disappointment”
Disappointment in myself for all the things I have NOT been doing in my time away from work
You can look at the menu but you just can’t eat
You can feel the cushions but you can’t have a seat
You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can’t have a swim
You’re the fastest runner, but you’re not allowed to win
YOu can see the summit, but you can’t reach it
It’s the last piece of the puzzle but you just cant make it fit
The doctor says you’re cured but you still feel the pain
Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes go down the drain
There are moments of joy, playing with my youngest and engaging with all my kids
Yet there is this dark cloud over my head the whole time
Just when I think I am pulling myself up and out of the muck and mud,
Something happens creating more challenges in my life
Causing me to fall back into the mud
Don is my rock, steady and always by my side
Yet, when I am depressed all I see are his flaws
I expect him to disappoint me and that is what I experience
This is a new reflection, a new realizing that I am just now fully realizing
As I listen to Peter Cetera sing, The Glory of Love
Have you ever seen the rain coming down on a sunny day?
I always thought if you were clinically depressed, you wound have any moment of joy
I always told myself, i wasn’t really depressed or i won’t be able to go to work
I wouldn’t be able to function at all, that is real clinical depression
Those people have it bad
I am still functioning.
It wasn’t until I came out of it, that I could look back and see how depressed I was
It didn’t matter that I was still functioning, I was barely functioning
I was barely getting by and it was painful
Often physically painful with aches and pains, throwing my back out to the point of not being able to move
Many trips to the chiropractor and other doctors for a variety of illnesses
And then I would get sick, stay home from work sick and it would take a long time to get better or I would relapse
Looking back this happened in college, often, sinus infections that just wouldn’t go away
All my life I have experienced big mood swings
When I went to college and learned about bipolar disorder
I wondered, Is this me?
Yet, i don’t experience mania
Not full on mania
It was years before I learned about hypomania
I think I learned about it from my brother and his bipolar diagnosis
From that time, i began to wonder about myself
I went to a psychiatrist after I had been on an antidepressant for a long time, 8 months ore so, prescribed by my primary
Because i finally took myself to the doctor and tole them I needed treatment for depression
So by the time I went to the first psychiatrist, i was having nearly all the side effects from the antidepressant and i was in a state of hypomania but beginning to look more like mania
The doctor diagnosed me with depression, removed me from the medicine showing me how I was having all the side effects fro it
She declared me cured
I knew I was not cured but hopefully that I didn’t need the antidepressant anymore
And so worried that I would fall back into the depression again
I was good for a while, for another few months
Until i slowly began sinking again
So slowly, rreeping up on me
Realizing it but naively thinking along the way that
THIS was the low point and surely I would pull back up
Sinking further and further
Finding a doctor again and trying a different antidepressant and going to a new psychiatrist
Because I wanted to make sure the medicine didn’t cause mania because
That can help end with bipolar disorder
I had been reading and researching becoming more and more convinced that this was my proper diagnosis
And going to the psychiatrist, to the expert, to determine if that was the case
Yet, she diagnosed me with depression
And I got tiered of paying twenty dollars cash each visit and not happy with her
Challenged by th noisy fan because the building’s air conditioner was broken and she had a soft voice and an accent
And my hearing is not what it used to be and it was a challenge to hear her words
And a challenge to be there with her asking dumb basic questions
When I had dug so much deeper with all my purists in EFT and alternative modalities and inner work
Luckily, my primary has continued to prescribe my medication and i don’t seam to baving side effects
I wonder about mania vs hypomania
I realize that it would have been good to continue to go to the same psychiatrist so manybe she could have seen the difference in me,
To diagnosis me properly
I have done that for myself
I am more qualified to do it
Which is sad, really sad that the mental health system has failed me
I intended to work in mental health when I was in college studying Occupational therapy
We had an entire semester plus dedicated to mental health and level I and level II fieldwork in a mental health setting
Only finding traumatic brain injury and a acute rehab pulled me way from my interest in pursing a career in mental health
Here I am
All these years later
Discovering that the doctors don’t always do the best job at diagnosis in
The psychologists and psychiatrist with their MDs and PhDs, all those years of school
Didn’t help me
My own personal education, experience, research and inner work and trial and erro with a variety of approaches
Has led me to diagnosis myself
I would have been the last person to say this is valid,
I am biased, this is why i went to the professions in the first place
They were supposed to be the experts
They first failed me with my children, especially my youngest son
In getting him help for his anxiety and challenges that affected his every day life
Yet, I find myself needing to say, I mean no disrespect for these professionals and they are essential in the system
And I KNOW they help many, many children and adults get the help they need.
And yet, there are those who are misdiagnosed and those who fall through the cracks of the system
Those who don’t get the help they need because of costs and insurance, bad insurance or no insurance
Or no qualified providers in their insurance plan
WE MUST ALL TAKE CHARGE OF OUR OWN HEALTH AND BE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS
As an Occupational Therapist, my role is to facilitate my patient’s return to a higher level of independent functioning.
I facilitate, but I can not do the work for them and if they are not motivated and don’t make the effort, there is nothing I can do to make them better.
“Man, through the use of his hands, can influence the state of his own health”
The quote is from one of the founders of occupational therapy and something I learned in freshman year in a Theory of Occupational Therapy class. I learned about many different theorists yet that one quote is what has stuck with me.
That quote is what motivated me to help my daughter learn to knit and crochet when her OCD was so severe that it crippled here in her daily life. And what drove me to engage her in Sudoku puzzles and other tasks to help calm the anxiety that was rampant in her Brian causing havoc in her life and in ours.
I have learned that I must go to the doctor and get their advice AND do my own research, go to the alternative practitioners and gather all the resources and information and advice
AND then I must decide what to take in and what to discard in order to maximize my level of independent functioning.
BUT WHEN I AM DEPRESSED, IT IS REALLY HARD TO DO THIS!
I KNOW What I need to do much of the time, but making the decisions to do it and taking the action is challenging.
It can be paralyzing to know what I need to do and not be able to make the decisions to do it.
To an outsider it looks so simple, just do it,, just call the doctor and make the appointment, just get up 30 minutes early and walk every morning, just go. Outside once each day and do grounding exercises, just write in your journal daily.
Sure I KNOW I need to do these things and at times, I can do them, once or twice,
Trudging through the mud with chains on my back, while trying to keep my head above water