acceptanceIn one of my recent posts, a fantastic poet who reads my blog said:

I think sometimes, looking back at my own life, it is a resistance to accept something deeper or especially, depression itself. When I fully accepted depression, treatment, and sometimes the insanity of it… things began to lift from me in new ways. But that is my personal experience with it at times.

This was interesting, but perplexing. After I learned as much as I could about Bipolar Disorder, it seemed somewhat easy to accept. It was a diagnosis that made sense, it explained so much about my past behaviors and diminished my self-hatred and shame for most of those actions. Accepting depression, however, seems like failure. In my mind (this was in my response to her comment), if I accept that I am depressed then I stop fighting and give up (which equals suicide). But then she put it into perspective:

Thing about depression is, it can suck us into believing that the symptoms and situations within clinical depression is a part of ourselves somehow rather than what we are struggling with. And others will do that too, relate our symptoms to who we are or our ‘attitude’. It is just not true. So in some ways, it is accepting what it can do, what it does to our emotions or thinking sometimes. But accepting ourselves in the depression is a wonderful release of its hold.

In your post you said, that it was not fun for you or your family so you have to re-read positive posts. It just reminded me of how much I had put into trying to ‘change’ it because it was uncomfortable and discouraging and sometimes hard to feel accepted by others in it. Then I accepted it, and myself in it, and the help… what a difference it made for me.

This is a very hopeful way of thinking, but for some reason it is still perplexing to me. It’s so difficult to get past the thinking of accepting (in this case) = defeat. Honestly, I’m reading her words (maybe half a dozen times), but they’re not being absorbed in to my brain.

So I’m asking my readers who may have missed this insightful comment, what do you think of this idea of acceptance as release?

Treatment-resistant or Resisting treatment?

This is turning out to be an adjunct to yesterday’s post. My brain is not cooperating with my attitude, or vise versa, I’m not quite sure which. While doing research on treatment-resistant depression, I’ve found the following information.

From Mayo Clinic

…with treatment-resistant depression, standard treatments aren’t enough. They may not help much at all, or your symptoms may improve, only to keep coming back.

Their suggestions include:

  • Stop drinking or using drugs – check
  • Manage stress – really? Good luck with that one.
  • Sleep well – as soon as I stop laughing at this suggestion, maybe I’ll take a nap.
  • Get regular exercise – OK, I barely have the energy to do everyday tasks and you think I’m going to get off my ass and go into the basement to get on the elliptical?

Wait…is that an attitude problem, or is it actual depression? OK, OK, let’s move on to the next website (which was WebMD, so maybe I’ll try the one after that-sorry WebMD people, I have a small problem with your website but I won’t get into that here).

This is from PsychCentral

These individuals may have treatment-resistant depression or refractory depression. While there’s some debate over the precise definition, treatment-resistant depression is typically thought of as failing to achieve remission after two treatments or two antidepressants, according to George Papakostas, M.D., director of Treatment-Resistant Depression Studies in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A variety of genetic, neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies have investigated the underlying causes of treatment-resistant depression. And researchers know one thing for sure: Refractory depression is not the result of one brain region or neurotransmitter system.

Once again, lifestyle changes are suggested. A couple of the other suggestions, which I forgot to mention earlier, are not open to me. I’ve had ECT, which is not something I care to repeat. Another suggestion is Transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), for which I did have a consult. That particular endeavor ended up quite disastrously (the definition of TMS can be found in the same link as the article).

The solutions all seem to be exacerbated by the fact that no mental health professional can seem to agree upon an actual diagnosis. Don’t get me wrong, I love my MH team, but come on, I really don’t want to get back on the medication merry-go-round again.

And here I go back to the bottom line, and my reason for the title of this post. Am I resisting treatment for some odd reason? As I mentioned in this past post, is it just too comfortable to be depressed? It’s certainly not fun for me nor my family. So like I said yesterday, I need to reread my positive posts, put on my big girl panties, and change my attitude…right? That will work, won’t it? I’m starting DBT in a couple weeks, and maybe I can find the energy to get my rear-end downstairs to the elliptical (c’mon, Sheri, how difficult can that be? You don’t even have to leave the house.). As for the ever elusive sleep, well that’s never been an easy one for me. I don’t like zombie drugs like Seroquel or Depakote, so I try to rely on one Klonopin just to shut up my brain.

Like I’ve said ad nauseum, there are so many non-traditional therapies I need to revisit. There are a multitude of options, but I feel like I’m blindly wandering around with my hands outstretched, trying not to fall in to the mire. Anybody got a spare rope?

blindfolded woman

The geneticist-a short query

dnaA brilliant geneticist has two offspring with the same partner, raised in the same environment. If one offspring soars and one offspring plummets, does the geneticist understand why?

Thief in the night

keyboardAs I lay in bed last night, tears quietly streaming out of the corners of my eyes, I wondered what happened to the woman who wrote the last few posts. It feels like someone has broken in to my home and stolen my weapons. Has this insidious disease decided to laugh in my face and show me to be a fraud? Was it all just mania that was giving me a false sense of well-being? Or perhaps I really am what someone once said to me, “a mental health pariah.” (I had to look that one up, its usage didn’t make sense at the time.)

The Mighty posted an article, 18 Clever Responses for When People Say Mental Illness is ‘All in Your Head’ that a friend and I were discussing, which then prompted me to think of the things people say to me to “help” me. You know the ones – “smile, you’ll feel better” or “it could be worse” or “change your attitude.” The one I use on myself, which someone said to me a long time ago and has stuck ever since “You’re not trying hard enough.” Is that it? Is that what’s happening now?

Monday I have an appointment for a medication review of this new med I started (which is actually a slightly different form of one that recently stopped working). Maybe I wanted it to work so badly that the placebo effect took over and it actually did work for a while. There’s a catchphrase that’s been around a long time, fake it ’til you make it. It’s been both vilified and lauded. Maybe if I can do that for just a few more days, my doctor can help me figure this out. Until then, I’ll read my own posts again, perhaps I can inspire myself…or perhaps it’s all bullshit.

wolf in sheep clothing

Preventive self-care

calendarPlanning ahead is an important part of my self-care. For example, over the years I have learned that from the first of October through the first of January is my danger zone. It has nothing to do with Seasonal Affective Disorder, I grew up in Southern California, then after 30 years lived in Arizona. It’s purely situational relating to a few key events that have happened to me over my lifetime during that time of year.

Last year I learned that if my brain is not functioning well as I get closer to October, I will start a quick descent into hell. Once January hits, if I don’t pull out of the downward spiral by mid-March (again, situational) I will most definitely crash and burn.

Many people may think of this as defeatist thinking. That type of person believes in the attitude of “If you think it will go wrong, it will.”  This is not the case. My pre-planning comes from years of evaluating my cycle. Just like a woman tracking her fertility, I track my sanity. As a matter of fact, there are numerous mood trackers on the internet as well as apps for smarter-than-me phones. There’s an old proverb that is something like “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Therefore, in addition to starting DBT in September (unplanned but fortuitous timing), I will need to cut back on commitments. It’s very difficult for me not to feel selfish about putting my mental well-being first; but as I learned last year, it is vital. Survival of another depressive episode, similar to what I just came out of, may not be possible. I simply don’t know if I (or the people who love me) would be able to handle it again, nor do I want to find out.

This is the year I learn how to say “No.” Apologies and explanations are probably not necessary, but in some cases I will feel compelled to do so.

To those of my readers in similar situations, what type of preventive actions do you practice? Is tracking your moods and episodes an important part of your life, or do you just take it as it comes? Most people who are successful in life, whether or not they have a mental illness, probably practice some sort of self-care. It can be beneficial to everyone.