Day 12: What do you think about your diagnosis in general?
I have thought so many things about my diagnoses. In the beginning, while hospitalized, I was numb still. My only concern while there was to get back to my babies, get back to my babies, get back to babies… Whatever it took. I knew that meant figuring this out. Fixing it! I wanted it fixed right then. Of course, it doesn’t work like that exactly. I made the most out of my time there. I began to try to fix myself, and everyone else, too. That’s what I do. I couldn’t even give the compulsive ineffective overachiever a rest in a “behavioral health” facility. Seriously, I would hurry to each group session ready to go. I wouldn’t try to look too eager because I learned in school that no one liked it if you were an obvious nerd, so I would lean back and wait for my turn to speak. Then, when someone gave a negative answer or would refuse to speak, I would always try to help them with their answer. I actually hadn’t thought about this until just now. I am pretty lucky no one snapped at me with all of the grumpy withdrawal suffering people in the group. I think they must’ve felt sorry for me. Everyone knew I just wanted to go home, wherever that was going to be now, and that I just wanted to see my Littles.
Once I was out of the hospital and I did get my girls back again (thank God) I wanted to learn everything I could about depression particularly. I wanted to understand how it was that I could hide that I was crashing so effectively, even from myself. How did I get into such a deep denial that I didn’t realize I was in such danger? Surely there must be more to it, or additional diagnoses, or something. I read everything and anything I could find on everything and anything related to depression and suicide. Even going so far as to check out and read Hemingway, Plath, David Foster Wallace, Jack London, Vonnegut, Poe, Virginia Woolf, and a few others just trying to understand what this was. Since then I have subscribed to several podcasts and listservs on the subjects aimed at the layperson and the professional and everything in between. I need to understand everything I can to assure I have a handle on the conditions and that I won’t miss anything ever again. Of course, I have also begun to blog and read blogs and this has been the most educational. Learning of other’s symptoms and experiences has helped me to be a little easier on myself. I am lucky in that I am able to work; I can be a good mother; I have so much to contribute; and I am here to do all of it.
I have found there to be many stereotypes with mental illness as a whole. And in each individual diagnosis there is even more. I have written a blog about one instance in particular that really bothered me in which a well known entertainer who has a podcast discussed depression and suicide and said that active people aren’t depressed. Specifically he said, “No one has ever gotten up at 5am to swim 30 laps and then killed themselves that afternoon. Busy people just aren’t depressed. Active people will NOT kill themselves.” I was livid after hearing this. He is perpetuating the stigma and untruth that depressed people are lazy or that lazy people get depressed. Spouting that kind of ridiculousness is harmful. Of course I wrote a letter and posted to their twitter and emailed and facebooked but never heard back. There are so many misconceptions I have found and I am still very new to this world. All of that is part of the reason why I post all of this publically. Everyone who has these illnesses might have their own way of manifesting their symptoms. I didn’t show any or hardly any of mine. Of course, this did wear on me, but I think it is a huge mistake to read a list of “things to look for” in a person you feel might be ill and because they don’t exhibit all or most of them come to the conclusion that all is well. ALWAYS ask the questions. It is better to hurt their feelings and be wrong than not ask and so much more is lost.
So in other (shorter) words, I am still learning. I imagine I will always be learning. I hope I will also be teaching and helping other people not be afraid to learn about mental health whether or not they have issues themselves. Since 1 in 4 people do, chances are great that someone they love will appreciate their knowledge