Monday, March 29, 2004

Public Service Announcement ... :eyeroll:

People that know me know my stance on mental illness, and how royally I get pissed off by anyone who does not know jackshit about it belittling it or making really ignorant comment.
The funny thing is that there is a huge number of people who are, in medical terms, mentally "ill"... and are mostly not aware of it. Depression is one of those things. How do you, if you don't know much about it, differ between - using the title of an article I read - needing help and needing just a bubble bath?

On our message board, a good friend of mine was just told recently to more or less get over herself because she shared her agony about her depression which she has been fighting for most of her life. That person just acted like an idiot. IDIOT. And yesterday I met a bloke who mentioned that he is depressed and tired a lot. When I asked him why he didn't go see a doctor, he said he was afraid that the doc would tell him to get the hell over it and stop being an effin wuss. And you know what, that was exactly what I had feared all those years where I played with the thought of getting help but never dared.

I am quite frank now about my use of antidepressants, and some responses are "What? You? Why?", maybe because they can't believe that a constantly giggling weirdo like me is in need of that shit (but really, dudes, laughing is a natural antidepressant. That is the way I cope, and from what I have seen, I am not the only one using that strategy. Except that laughing is not enough sometimes.).
Other responses show a mild disdain for medication of that sort, considering it a form of uppers, as in recreational drugs, which SSRI's are not. You gotta take them for ages before they start kickin in properly.
Rare responses are looks of the sort you look at a completely demented nutcase. (Which I am, mind you.;)) Someone being on psychotropic stuff must mean they are seriously wacko.
I've got a surprise for you. It kept surprising me, too: ever since I started being open about my meds, I find that a lot of people I know use them as well.
There is a huge number of people who use them, and chances are that a handful in your circle do.
Some never admit to it, for reasons I understand. Many many probably have a mental disorder but shrug it off... or others do it for them. "Get over yourself.", "It's nothing a cuppa tea can't cure." blahblahblah.

There is a difference between depression and depression. One is just having the blues, for whatever reason. Another is an actual illness... it is your brain's neurotransmitters out of whack which can screw you up massively. And no, you can't just get over it. In a scientific way it is fascinating to see that your brain controls you more than you think... the way you feel, the way you are. It is tempting to think that we are just well-oiled machines, and if something breaks, the whole thing will get out of balance. The way you see the world, yourself, the way you perceive it - it all depends on the processor that is your brain to function properly. None of what we sense is actually a direct link to the world... it is only a processed copy of what is out there. And your brain can make you believe anything. I used to just play with the thought that perhaps nothing out there is really the way I see it, because all I see is a processed version of it. There may be more out there than I can see, which is possible, because some animals can't see all we can see, they may not be able to see colors, or depth, or whatnot. There may be things there that I perceive that aren't really there. Maybe the world I live in is just an illusion - Matrix-style. ;)
My point here is that your brain controls you, and you are not aware of it most of the time. You can influence it, help structuring it, but if your brain decides to go bananas, you can do as little about it as you can think cancer away.

I started struggling with depression over 10 years ago... thinking it was just me... but just in the past years it got so bad that I felt I needed help to actually survive.
The crying spells weren't the worst, in retrospect. The worst is when you stop caring. About anything. When all leaves you cold. When you just start existing, but you don't live anymore. When you go through life everyday feeling like living in a glass box that lets you see, but in every other way disconnects you from the world you live in. Nothing seems real anymore. It feels like you can't make yourself heard and no one can hear you, see you.
The ridiculous thing is that this is mostly not true. But you can't change that thinking, because there isn't any joy left in you. Simply for the reason that your brain does not produce enough of the stuff that makes you happy. You are physically unable to feel happy. And that will make you deteriorate really quickly.

There is this weird blurred line between personality and illness in depression. And to some extent it is understandable. The way you think and feel is part of who you are. Or is it? It was after dealing with depression for so long that I started questioning what constitutes me. Because that would mean that having a mental illness can make me a bad person. An amoral person? But then again, it is not my fault that parts of my brain decided to take a holiday. So you can say what some people consider the whine of a wimp is an illness that alters personality - and losing yourself in a way, similar to Alzheimer's etc, is one of the worst things that can happen to you. Watching yourself become something you don't want to be, and having little or no control over it. (Remember I speak only for myself!) That again would be my argument for why using antidepressants is not "wrong". They just neutralise.

I am not surprised many depressives start self-medicating. Doing drugs. Drinking. You go for anything that makes you feel like you are still alive. You try for years and years to deal with it, but in the end you just give up, cos you are exhausted, and it never made a difference. You may have fantasies about killing yourself, and they terrify you because they invade your mind, but the really scary thing is that the longer you stay in that hole, the more you lose your resistance to those thoughts.

They say depression is the common cold of mental disorders. Most people get affected by it at one point in their life. It's a disease of our time and modern lifestyle, for a big part.
Depression can take your life away, and it wastes so much time. I wish now I had started treatment earlier... I could have enjoyed my life much more, I could have done so much more.
All I can say is, if you feel like you have been in a hole for quite some time, if you feel you are experiencing something similar to what I described, if you feel it messes up your life, go check the depression link and get some input. And then, for Jeebus' sake, see a doctor. ;)

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