Monday, January 2, 2012

Public Service Announcement

"For any mental disorder (including substance disorders), the lifetime prevalence rate is an astonishing 57.4 percent. That’s more than every 1 in 2 Americans. If you don’t think mental illness will impact your life, you’re sadly mistaken. If it doesn’t hit you, it’s going to hit someone you love or are close to."*

This may not be the happiest of ways to start a New Year's blog. But I think it's important. Ever since the Beyonce Rooster story from a few months back I have followed Jenny Lawson, aka "the bloggess." Sometimes her language makes me cringe, but almost always she makes me laugh. In the past she has written about her anxiety disorder, but until tonight, I was not aware of her fight with depression.

I have had my own struggle with depression. I've been battling it for almost 45 years. I came out of the mental health closet years ago, but I never really thought about wearing a ribbon. But you know, Jenny is is right. There are colored ribbons for all kinds of diseases and causes. As well as 5K runs and telethons and address lables in the mail donation requests. I'm not sure I've ever seen one for depression or bi-polar disease, or life altering anxiety, or cutting, or hoarding.

If you ask me, the Bloggess is not the person I'd have picked as a poster child for depression. It just goes to show you, how well depressives fight to keep the disease at bay. Like Cinderella at the ball listening for the clock to strike midnight, I could put on the face of a PTA parent, or supportive Navy wife, but when I was home in the safety of my room I would lie in bed and alternate between sleeping and crying. There were times I felt so rotten about myself that I believed I couldn't even "do" depression right. [One day on a locked ward was enough to scare me into holding onto a piece of sanity that I knew if I lost I'd be gone forever.]

Here's part of what Jenny posted tonight. Please read it and go to her blog for the rest of what she had to say:
The fight goes on.

If you follow me on twitter you already know that I’ve been battling off one of the most severe bouts of depression I’ve ever had. Yesterday it started to pass, and for the first time in weeks I cried with relief instead of with hopelessness. Depression can be crippling, and deadly. I’m lucky that it’s a rare thing for me, and that I have a support system to lean on. I’m lucky that I’ve learned that depression lies to you, and that you should never listen to it, in spite of how persuasive it is at the time.

When cancer sufferers fight, recover, and go into remission we laud their bravery. We call them survivors. Because they are.

When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark…ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness…afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t. We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.

When you come out of the grips of a depression there is an incredible relief, but not one you feel allowed to celebrate. Instead, the feeling of victory is replaced with anxiety that it will happen again, and with shame and vulnerability when you see how your illness affected your family, your work, everything left untouched while you struggled to survive. We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker…but as survivors. Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand.

Regardless, today I feel proud. I survived. And I celebrate every one of you reading this. I celebrate the fact that you’ve fought your battle and continue to win. I celebrate the fact that you may not understand the battle, but you pick up the baton dropped by someone you love until they can carry it again. I celebrate the fact that each time we go through this, we get a little stronger. We learn new tricks on the battlefield. We learn them in terrible ways, but we use them. We don’t struggle in vain.

We win.

We are alive.

If you are one who suffers from this dis-ease, know this ... you are not alone, there is help. Whether you've been depressed or lucky enough not to have these demons, please, please, look kindly on your fellow traveler. Your smile, or shoulder or ear may be the life jacket that keeps someone else from drowning.

Tonight I'm grateful for others who speak their truth. I'm grateful for the quick and efficient care my Sweetie got in the Emergency Room last night, that he has vertigo not another heart blockage.

Wishing for you, good health and good cheer,
Merry ME


terri said...

mary.....this is so important.
thank you for putting it out there with such honesty.....

AkasaWolfSong said...

You Brave Girl!

I suffer from Anxiety big know, bridges, stairs, driving on the started some years ago, and I learned to avoiding them altogether. It is the most debillitating feeling on earth and you feel like the bottom is falling out. Thank goodness for anxiety meds...while I still can't do some of the 'stuff' listed above, there are times when I muddle through with the help of my medicine and then breathe a sigh of relief. I don't talk about it much...but since you started the convo, well, there you have it. It's out now!
Terri is right...this is important. I too thank you for your honesty and for the sharing.
You Brave Girl!
So happy Sweetie is alright!!!
New Year's Radiant Blessings to you both Mary!!!

Fire Byrd said...

It's when I read post like this Mary, that I realise it's not just a bit of fun my book writing it's actually essential. My knowledge can help people. Your being open as your blog pal help people. We are all here together we need to share our experiences to help ourselves and others.
I would suggest to Akasa that she get some CBT to learn healthier techniques to overcome her phobias rather than ignoring them as that still means they control her rather than the other way round.

AkasaWolfSong said...

I would suggest to FireByrd that she should not assume. I do see a Psychiatrist and a CBT, and am bravely working on 'my issues.'