Depression: The Invisible Battle

In the last decade there have been more books on depression and people talking openly. Although I think there can be a point of over-saturation, we’re not there yet and more dialogue on depression will people help recognize and understand it better. There are still too many people who live under the black cloud of despair or more tragically, kill themselves out of depression.

I speak not from an outsider’s point of view but from the intimate perspective of having suffered mild depression to full-blown clinical depression. The first time was probably in my twenties when my boyfriend of three years and I broke up. I moved to Vancouver and lived for another three years in a somewhat different personality. It was a bit kamikaze, reckless, unhappy and angry. I ended up going to my doctor who sent me to a psychiatrist. He determined that I was working my way out of the depression by that point and didn’t put me on meds. That’s pretty rare for psychiatrists who are married to the pharma industry. Psychologists aren’t covered in Canada’s medicare but psychiatrists are.

Perhaps I dipped into depression a few times after that but it was when I was dealing with my eating disorder that I was first put on anti-depressants. I can’t say they changed my mood or state of mind but eventually it seems my brain chemistry balanced out and I stopped the binging and quit the meds.

In 2001 I had gone through a few things and had a boyfriend, but I was pretty poor and nothing seemed to be going right for me, My health was deteriorating, partly caused by a repetitive stress injury in the movie industry and now I was poor. Everything built up. I was freelancing but not full time so I’d go and work, then come home and crawl into bed. I forced myself to eat a bowl of soup a day. I couldn’t deal with anything: answering the phone, changing a doctor’s appointment, coming up with answers to questions. I cocooned for months. And then September 11th happened and that added to the fear and gloom. My elbow was also hurting and no amount of physiotherapy was helping. After many sessions the physiotherapist said she couldn’t help anymore.

I went to my doctor with this symptom and she mentioned depression. I didn’t want to see a psychiatrist because I don’t think they do much (the last one when I had the eating disorder, didn’t) and I didn’t want to go on anti-depressants because they’re hard on teeth and can cause increased cavities (less salivation occurs and bacteria builds up). I also argued that I had reasons to be depressed and listed them. My doctor said, true you can be depressed and have good reasons but it’s not about the reasons but how you cope. In essence, I wasn’t coping very well at all.

My doctor gave me a questionnaire to fill out and bring back. Of all the questions the only one I didn’t have a dire answer to was the one about suicide. I’ve never been suicidal, not even when depressed. My doctor took one look at my answers and said, “You’re going on medication.” So I did and luckily she got me a compassionate prescription, which is free through the pharmaceutical companies because there was no way I could afford it and I would have stopped buying them, if I had to pay.

Since that time I try to gauge where I’m at, watch my moods and feelings. But depression is a tricky thing. It doesn’t always manifest the same way every time. Sometimes you can function but you can’t eat. Sometimes you’re just in physical pain that won’t go away. Sometimes you are fine during the day and plummet every evening. Sometimes you can’t eat, or you eat too much, can’t sleep or sleep too much. For me, it’s never been quite the same so it gets hard to know for sure.

I sometimes have to look back over a period of a year and see if I have shifted much. I try to catch it before it gets as bad as 2001. I don’t like being in that space and everything is far too dark. I tend not to read or watch the news because the concentration and the repetition of the bad and horrid gets to me. Even the radio can be too much but I do like to know what’s going on in the world.

Depression is not a physical ailment but it can become one. It can make people as sick as any disease and kill them. Understanding what a person may be going through will help people heal. Calling them crazy and whacked, which we all do, may describe their current state but it won’t help them get better. Depression is a disease with varying symptoms, and understanding will help those who have it and those who have to be around it.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, entertainment, health care, life, memories, security

2 responses to “Depression: The Invisible Battle

  1. Jeff

    After 10 years of working the U.S/Mexican border as a customs officer I transfered to a small port and felt down and sad after a year of being here. So I took it upon myself to see a Psycologist who diagnosed me with PTSD and dysomnia. I felt I was a stranger in my own land, not happy….After 5 months I decided to go back to work (with a doctors note supporting me) However, my firearm and credentials were rescinded due to this medical condition and I was ordered to undergo a fitness for duty evaluation by one of their own doctors. I currently await their medical opinion. However, I still feel depressed and stressed…Should I return to seeing a psychiatrist seeing how my employer “government” will probably try to remove me from my position?

  2. colleenanderson

    I have a friend who was a nurse for years, working up north, with the poor, in emergency rooms and in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside. She ended up getting sick with a lung/bronchial infection but she wasn’t getting better.

    Then it turned out she craved constant stimulus, adrenalin highs and would run through the forest in the dark. She was diagnosed with PTSD and tried to go back to work after a few months off and finally accepting the diagnosis.

    She teaches nursing now but found she could not go back because it triggered her PTSD. You might have the same problem or not yet be through depression. My doctor says it takes as long to heal from depression as the length of time you had it.

    I don’t know the rules but in Canada you can’t necessarily be removed from your job for health reasons. Extended medical or a job found elsewhere by your employer is sometimes the alternative. Depends on whether you must tell them and whether you can go back to the same job. If you’re not happy doing it, then you may need to switch professions and still get medical help. Not easy I know but if the alternative is constant stress, you’re just going to die too young.

    Sounds like your meds may not be working or strong enough, or you need them if you’re not on them but you’ll have to talk to a doctor about that, if they do recognize the symptoms of PTSD. Good luck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s