Tuesday, May 1, 2012
This is my post for Blogging Against Disablism Day I live with depression characterized by apathy, lack of motivation, inability to concentrate, and insomnia. No matter what I did, people’s negative attitudes affected me. Over the past five years, I’ve tried several ways of dealing with it. First was denial; I pretended as if nothing were wrong. I went to classes and participated in clubs and organizations, but my enthusiasm for all of that was gone. Any time someone would ask me if I were ok, I’d smile and change the subject. I knew the stigma that came with mental illness; I’d seen it in movies, heard it in the casual way people tossed out the words crazy and insane, and studied it in-depth in some of my journalism and sociology classes. I was already different enough with the blindness, the adoption, the left-leaning politics in a conservative town, and I *did* not need to add another difference to my list. After the denial came the crash. I had a horrible year after the one where I noticed the depression. My first guide dog was sick, had many vet bills, and retired; my second guide dog got sick and went back to the school; most of my friends graduated; I had money problems paying for school; and I failed my internship. I stopped talking to most people because I didn’t want to share my problems and sound like a whiner. I didn’t want to go to counseling because only unstable people went there. I now know that isn’t true, but it’s what I thought at the time. Eventually, I started doing the anti-depressant wheel. I take something the doctor prescribed; it didn’t work, and I tried another one. By this time, I was out about the depression to friends and family. My family said, “What do you have to be depressed about?” I was also taking a sociology class that did a major study of mental illness. I got to hear how big pharma was ruining everyone’s lives, and anyone who bought into the pills help was a mindless idiot, and he or she deserved whatever happened while on the meds. Thanks professor; I really enjoyed the disorientation, the irritation at everyone and everything, the constant hyper feeling as if I needed to run miles at 2 am, inability to fall asleep, and the nausea. I also heard from classmates in context with the discussion that if those people in the books we read just pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and had happier thoughts, the depression would magically go away. Now, I am in a somewhat better place to deal with the depression. I personally don’t take the anti-depressants because I’ve tried too many, and the side effects are just not worth the improvements. I have some supplements that help, and I will try more later this year. I’ve been to counseling, and I see the benefit of sharing feelings with others because it’s not good to hold all the sadness inside. However, I will always be affected by ablest attitudes, my internalized ones as well as those from society in general. I have not told anyone who has any say in my academics or finances. I will not disclose whenever I apply for jobs. Maybe I will someday feel open enough to let those who have authority over me know that, yes, I am one of those crazy people that many talk about with discomfort, but for now, I work on improving my biochemical and emotional health as well as detoxing myself of the ablest attitudes and language I hear every day.