This is what I would have written for BADD, except of course I was late.
There are two types of disbelief about mental health issues. I hate ’em both, particularly as depression, anxiety and/or bipolar disorder have been part of both sides of the family tree.
The first type, has some validity somewhere…just not with my genetic legacy.
“Everybody thinks everything can be fixed with a pill today.”
I agree, you shouldn’t throw pills at every issue, even every mental health issue. Big Pharma has made a business of making everyone and their brother think a pill will handle everything And people should have the right to consider and follow alternative methods for dealing with those issues, if it isn’t serious enough to cause immminent harm.
Regarding depression and anxiety, I am on a single med that you could not pay me to go off of unless a shrink advised me to do so. Off it I am prone to irrational fears, and anxiety about daily living far off the scale in relation to the stresses that are actually occurring.
I was also diagnosed with Adult ADD in 2009 where blood pressure issues make using meds to deal with it impractical, so I completely get that someone could make a decision about mental health that meant they would not take a medicine discussed with their mental health care person (the key here is honesty…I’m not for saying you’ll take something and then dissapearing it instead of taking it…)
The second kind of disbelief, ironically, comes from the same family members that have seen depression, when untreated, have a devastating effect on their family…
I’ve been told that just because there’s some “made up” label for sudden spacing on where in the world you left stuff, or put it (ADD), that since you had the symptoms long before the condition was named, that there is, in fact, no such condition, and it’s just a plot by shrinks to make $$$.
When I was four, five and six years old, I can’t count the number of times my mom gave me some important permission slip or something, told me not to lose it before I got on the school bus in ten minutes, I *resolved* not to lose it…
And then just completely lost track of it immediately thereafter.
That feature never went away and was joined by chronic disorganization, and five or six other symptoms that I checked “Always” on on the adult add assessment sheet.
“Doesn’t *everybody* do this?” I said resignedly…My health care provider shook her head.
“When I was a kid, we didn’t have pills for any of this stuff, people just lived with it.”
Or didn’t, but of course, no one would have talked about that either, had it happened.
We have medicines today, for conditions that have always existed, both mental and physical, If medicines get made, and conditions get names, there has to be some good that comes out of that.
And I’m tired. Damn tired of people who’ve not dealt with these issues themselves deciding they know the reality of them, or of people that have seen their impact taking their own heads and stuffing them beneath the sand.
In addition to my cerebral Palsy, Asthma, Carpal Tunnel, Depression…Theres this new thing, lymphadema I don’t know. But I’ve received confirmation from a medical source I trust that my case of lymphedema has a bit of a different twist than others.
It’s an illness common to cancer survivors…breast cancer patients are the most common recipients of this sort of consolation prize.
But in my case, my original cancer was cancer of the lymph nodes. Because my lymphatic system was weakened in the first place, it makes the lymphedema more dangerous to me in particular.
While the cancer has not returned, per a medical professional I trust, this is a sign that the whole lymphatic system is weakening. Lymphadema is not curable, and will not go away.
With the agressive therapy, I can hold the line on this for a time, against progression to congestive heart failure. My heart is in good shape at this time.
(One really annoying thing about the therapy. ) in addition to all the time working physically I *have* to lie in bed and keep my legs up for at least two hours during the day. *That’s* not going to help any weight loss goal 😦
One thing the docs don’t know is how much or how little time it can be held off. Could be twenty or thirty years. Could be six months.
One thing the docs do know: Barring some other intervening illness or injury…eventually my lymphatic system will shut down, and that…will be my endgame.
So, betwixtandbetween. Not directly terminal…but it feels pretty odd to have a likely ending scenario mapped out already.
But dumber still. Someone said I ought to be pissed at my oncologist.
WTF? The guy gave me *twenty years* and however many more i’ve got!
I’m not going to ‘get mad’ at him.
Sure, 85 % of me is peeved at The Universe for handing me this.
(14% shrugs like a Frenchman and says c’est la vie. The remaining 1% says it’s been a damn long wait to see my husband, and if that’s how it’s going to roll, well then that’s it.)
And it’s so darn nebulous, I forget about it sometimes. When I do think of it I don’t know how to feel about it from day to day.
This is just a short, peeved note.
Ok, people deciding that I should be able to do xyz with this new rather more dangerous impairment that I just got? (lymphedema) Go jump. Or go tack yourselves to a wall. Take a long walk…A really long walk.
This is the truly whiny part, and I admit it.
I really do believe that anyone else in the developed world who had been through my list of obstacles in order from the moment I got born…
Might very well be in an institution where they treat mental illness weaving baskets by now.
I’m not. (At least not yet).
So I am, in fact, ahead of the game.
It may look like quitting from the outside.
Quitting would be not doing anything the docs tell me.
I’m not doing that.
I’ve been looking back over the past three years or so…
It’s fairly clear that the windows of effectiveness for new meds or strategies to handle what I percieve to be an anxiety disorder are shortening.
It’s not that they aren’t efficacious initially, it’s that the time between “Yes, this is helpful,” and “Ok, this isn’t working, lets look at other combinations….” is decreasing. I have meds now, they’re holding me above water, but situationally, the head’s in a bad way.
I’ve seen family members on both sides be left without recourse, mentally speaking, when the bottom fell out, either by denying anything was wrong, or delaying help, or in one case outright abandonment.
I have a great aunt I was very fond of…
When I think of my connection with medications that help, or my present search for help *before* I get into a situation….
I’m very grateful that I’m not that great aunt in 1935.
When my father died I recieved a box of his personal effects.
In it were a small amount of correspondence, a young man’s picture and a wedding announcement concerning my great aunt.
I’ll call her Jeanette and him Bill.
He was a handsome young man per the small picture. My great grandmother seems to have had reservations about him for her daughter, but was never explicit about what they were in the correspondence I read.
Jeanette and Bill were married in 1935. Jeanette may or may not have had diagnosed depression at anytime prior to the wedding. The newlyweds either lived nearby or with Bill’s mother.
He left when war came.
And, when the war ended, he did not permanently return. I don’t know if he came back for a short time and left again. What I do read in the letters is that apparently without benefit of divorce, he abandoned my great aunt, went to New York City and found a second partner, and he was listed as working somewhere in the Empire State Building in 1948. He also ceased to communicate with his mother. Whether or not my great aunt’s depression was present, and part of what influenced part or all of his decision to leave, it manifested in an extreme way in the years after they ‘rediscovered’ where he was.
She sends him lucid letters at first gracious even, a gentle bewilderment couched in educated language, pleading on behalf of his mother and herself, asking for an explanation, a reason, any construct that would let her understand why he left.
There is no answering correspondence from him.
(I assume he’s dead now. If I ever had hope of finding that guy, before he died, his new family would have been embarrassed beyond belief, and he would have been the worse for wear.)
Two years later, letters show a sharp drop in the physical ability to print or handwrite neatly (the style of handwriting looks worse than mine when I was eight, and my cerebral palsy affects that.)
Then, there are discussions my great grandmother wrote to medical persons about the state of my great aunt’s mental health….my great aunt lived with my great grandmother as of at least 1950. My great grandmother did what she had to do to support my great aunt, but clearly indicated in correspondence to her (it’s telling that they couldn’t talk about these things but had to write them out….) that it was time that Jeanette became self supporting.
Jeanette became my great grandmother’s primary caregiver, while holding down a job at a steel company….(an office post of some sort)
My great grandmother, as I’ve written before, was a dominating, strong, intense personality. It had to be emotionally draining, to accept over time that Jeanette’s job (s) in life were a ‘job’ not a career, getting intimate with a typewriter and then caregiving on the evenings and weekends. There were no children.
Jeanette did take a stand about two things, though and I think, along with treatment or meds (I don’t have details on those. ) there were two avocations largely responsible for her long stretches of ‘acceptable’ mental health during the next thirty years.
Birdwatching, and extensive travel on her own.
Once she was working and handling her share of expenses, I imagine either she put some funds away for this or was helped to do so by her mother…who didn’t strike me as so self-absorbed that she wouldn’t see the lonesomeness or diffiulties of her daughter’s postition.
It is my understanding she had a relapse in 1965. I never saw her during those times….by 1967, she didn’t mind being one of several famillial baby sitters that saw me perhaps once a week….
She saw Asia, the Phillipines, Easter Island and other places on her own…and loved to show pictures or tell stories about these places to friends at the nearby Presybyterian church, or to me….
I think she wished my eyesight were sharper, because she could detail a species of bird at a moment’s notice and by the time I could track toward the tree, the bird would often have ‘dissapeared’ or moved.
When my great grandmother died in 1979, or 1980….
Jeanette fell into an extreme depression from which she did not recover….
This type of depression is quite prevalent on *both* sides of the family tree.
My alcoholic father became trustee of Jeanette’s estate….which he partially looted. (His moral nadir.)
She had to be placed in a skilled nursing facility, where she died in 1991.
I’m trying not to be any of those people, or others who even under care, actually grew violent in their old age… I’m trying to adress these issues proactively, so I don’t see that level of destruction in my cognition, now or later.
She deserved better, damnit.
We all do.