Tuesday, May 1, 2012

just get over it

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.


  1. It must have been very tough meeting such profs at that point in your life. I'm glad you were able to get help and that you are managing your depression. Living with one can be hard, but it works.

  2. Such a powerful post. It really left me speechless. I don't know what it is like to have depression, and I don't know what it is like to be you, but I feel as though I learn more and more every time I read an entry here. You are a strong woman and I thank you for having the strength to share your thoughts and experiences with me.

  3. Found your post through BADD 2012 (it's taking me a while to get through all the posts). As I read more and more about the roller coaster that many people have been on trying to find drugs that will treat their depression, I realize that I have been fortunate to find ones that work relatively well for me with very few side effects...and I really admire you, for working through depression without their aid. I inevitably crash when I'm off drugs, and it's not pretty. Thank you for talking about your experiences...you're teaching people more than you know.

  4. I was doubly lucky, with my mental health issues. My mother, who is a very strong and uncomplaining woman, went through a period where she was on prozac when I was old enough to be aware of it but young enough to still have it really impact how I thought about mental illness and medication - I think to help her deal with rather extreme (self-directed) perfectionism and workaholism. Also, the first medication we tried to manage my bipolar (an anti-depressant) worked well for me for several years, and I had doctors who were supportive of the way I used it.

    I, too, had a bad crash - I didn't fit in my very tight-knit grad program, my mentor dropped me (which amounts to being told to leave grad school, though another professor was willing to pick me up), I left the program, and I left the city I was living in, which I still think of as my 'hometown', even though I only lived there for 2 years (which also meant leaving my competitive ballroom dancing club, which I LOVED). I was back on the search for medication for a while because my bipolar symptoms changed, and I think the last one made that crash much worse, I got off it for most of a year, got into law school, and then got sick with whatever-the-hell my secondary physical condition is (before that, I hadn't even known I had the primary one). I guess what I'm trying to say is, even though things STARTED well for me, I can relate. I finally found a new medication that worked well about six months into trying new ones. I had been combining different psych meds for a bit because I didn't want to try one actually targeted at bipolar, as all of the ones I had tried had been pretty awful failures, in one way or another. Luckily, the first one my new psychologist wanted me to try did work, and as a bonus did something to treat my chronic insomnia.

    I hate the 'get over it' attitude. I mean, really, if people could just think their way healthy, who would choose to be depressed, or have any other disability for that matter? We don't tell diabetics to think their blood sugar healthy, and it's just as silly to do it with mental health issues.

    I hope that you're able to find a combination of supplements and counseling that keeps you stable and happy long-term. I think that's always the hard thing for those of us with mental health issues - the long term.