Monday, January 24, 2011

Comment Gone Post

I just finished leaving a comment on a post by The Bloggess, and I thought that it actually might make a good post in, and of, itself. So here ya go:
I'm so out about my mental illness, people get sick of hearing about it. I do periodic posts about it, and my last was, as someone else had done, in regard to the shooter in Tuscon.
I've suffered from chronic major depression and chronic anxiety disorder for as long I remember, literally. I didn't get help until after my oldest son was born in 1994. They told me I had PPD. I didn't. I was just scared to keep going the way I had been since I now had a human being depending on me.
My worst episodes of depression have happened since I've had my children. The kind of episodes that are so black and so long that I seriously consider suicide, but I never act on it because I cannot do that to my children and I know how to get help now. Even though it is motherfucking, god-damned hard to get that help sometimes. Lack of insurance or time or fucked up policies when we did have insurance all were obstacles at times.
I've been on various drug regimens for almost 17 years, now. Currently I take an SNRI, an anxiolytic and a mood stabilizer. There is some disagreement between various of my doctors whether I have bipolar II or the chronic major depression *and* chronic anxiety combo platter, but they all agreed that either way, adding a mood stabilizer would help and it has.
And you wanna talk stigma? In February of 2008 and again in February 2010 I had a round of ECT. Five treatments each time. Feel free to check the tag "ECT" on my blog for an explanation of the process and dispelling popular myths about it. [Please read from the oldest post at the bottom to the latest at the top for continuity.] It has been a lifesaver for myself and my family.
I decided to do it after a very long depression did not improve. In fact, it got much worse and cycled up more panic attacks as well. I did a lot of research, chose to do the ECT, did it and was amazed that nobody ever mentioned it to me before. I felt wonderful and everyone kept telling how normal I was, which may have been a retroactive insult; I'm not sure...
The second round came after a steady two month decline back into the hole and I decided not to let it get nearly as bad as it had been the last time. I did it again and was glad, again.
Within weeks of the second round, I started one of the worst years (situationally) of my adult life. An old friend abruptly died; my best friend lost her father to cancer; I lost my grandfather (the man who was my father figure growing up) quite unexpectedly to multiple cancers that apparently had been eating him alive for some time; I put my dog to sleep after raising him from an eight-week-old rescue mutt to a 15-year-old family member alongside my sons while I was a stay-at-home mother; I was laid off from the study for which I had been working; I had flairs galore of my autoimmune illness; I've seen my children through some tough times this year; I had some female plumbing issues which I thought would leave me sterile; and I'm sure I'm missing some other things...
But you know what? I was able to survive it and come out with hope in my eyes because I started out from a point of virtual mental health. So ECT has saved my life twice, now. So I talk about it. A lot. It makes people uncomfortable, sometimes, but I think that's okay, because we need to chip away at all of the stigmas of mental illness and it's treatments.
I got this tattoo:to commemorate the ECT the first time. And when people ask me what it means, I tell them--even strangers--all about it.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

That is a FANTASTIC tattoo.

Just sayin.

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