The National Depression Service Has Issued a Depression Warning
I doubt it will come as a shock to folks who have it, but, depression sucks. Mine has been ramping up from its usual steady, low grade state (I have moderate PDD, Persistent Depressive Disorder) to a far deeper state of helplessness. And, for shits and giggles, it’s brought anxiety along for the ride. Last night (as of my writing this), as my wife and I went through our nighttime ritual of match 3 games and terrible jokes, I felt my heart speed up and my mood plummet. A sudden depressive low with a rapidly moving anxiety attack was my new mood forecast.
There’s a lot going on in my life at the moment: selling our house, buying a new one, moving, new medications for a new set of diseases I was just diagnosed with, short-term disability leave needing to be long-term disability leave which may end up as being on full-time disability, physical therapy which starts the day I write this… Yeah, just typing that out makes my heart race a little. And with my new diagnoses comes the exhaustion, fatigue, bone and joint pain, and neuropathy setting my nerve endings on fire. Right now, a trip to the grocery store for six items can lay me out for the day. And that makes me not Me.
I am whining more, feeling like I am being judged for not getting everything done in a day that needs to be done. Or, that my inability to do those tasks makes me an enormous burden. My poor wife has her own issues with anxiety and has said more than once she is just barely holding it together, right now. Normally, I would be her rock, but I am not. One tiny piece of bad news, something that would’ve been blown off before, has had me bent over scream crying, clutching a table edge to not fall down. Yeah, full blown, not sure I can stop or breathe, tears-and-snot-falling hysterics. No I did not do this anywhere near my partner. No she doesn’t know about it, (but may read about it, ahem. I love you!) and no I haven’t been to a therapist yet.
I’m going to go. I have to go. I will need to be evaluated for disability that way anyway. I’ve done therapy before and it helped so I am not afraid of it. I am reluctant about the cost right now because my STD (really guys?) doesn’t cover many bills and I have to pay for the insurance out of it too. But I am ready and willing to have my brain picked again.
What I am not looking forward to is something I don’t even know will happen yet. Will the physical therapist dismiss my pains and weakness due to my size? Sure I have my autoimmune diagnoses now but will she just see a fat person who needs to lose weight and the pain will go away? I hope not since being skinny won’t cure my Sjorgren’s Syndrome or my Fibromyalgia. But, it is a worry I face every day. I was reluctant to seek out my doctor even with debilitating pains shooting up and down my legs for a year. I was afraid they would be brushed off due to my size. I tried to force my body to walk normal despite the overwhelming pains in my legs because I didn’t want people to assume I was waddling because I am fat. Using a cane as I now do has helped some but how many folks still go “what a disgusting person, so fat”? Why should that bother me?
Because I am human and as strong as I can be it still hurts. And doctors frequently treat fat people worse than any other patients because, of course, our illnesses are due to size. “Lose weight and that will stop”. Nope. Skinny doesn’t stop the cysts on my ovaries or the dryness of my mouth. Skinny doesn’t stop Fibromyalgia from sending molten streaks of pain up and down my legs. Skinny doesn’t help my depression, because the cause is a chemical imbalance and possibly some mild brain damage.
Brain damage you might ask. Well, I was born with a Subdural Hematoma that was untreated. I still have a soft spot on the crown of my head and we don’t quite know yet what issues or behaviors it may have caused in me. Never been to a neurologist. That may be next. I am racking up the medical conditions huh? I have more but what’s a little PCOS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Asthma, Acid Reflux, or extremely awful allergies in comparisons? Well they add to the reason I feel self-conscious, have to carry a bag or purse to hold emergency medications, take so long getting ready to go anywhere…There are days where my depression seems like the least of my concerns but it is the one I worry about the most since my ability to cope or not cope with the other issues directly affects it.
What do I want people to understand about all these conditions?
First, that they are Invisible. I do not carry much of an outward sign of any of them. If I am wheezing from a walk is isn’t due to my weight so much as my allergies and compromised walk from the autoimmune issues. If my face is incredibly red it isn’t because I am flush with sugar or gout, it is the PCOS hormonal imbalance and the Sjorgren’s Syndome teaming up to potentially add Rosacea, soon. The PCOS doesn’t help with the weight either, as it is beyond extremely hard to lose weight with it. But people don’t see the illnesses when they see the symptoms, they see a sad, fat girl walking and they think that gives them leave to tell me so.
Second, I would like people to know that no, you cannot catch any of these from me. This is my body having a laugh. I have had people visibly step back when I tell them I have recently been diagnosed with Sjogren’s. They have no idea what it is but if it was that contagious I wouldn’t be in public, okay? Calm down. None of the things I have are contagious. I am ill for sure but you don’t need to fear.
Third, I know y’all mean well but knock it off with the diet advice. Seriously. This behavior is linked both to my size and my autoimmune diseases. They just open the door for unsolicited advice on what I need to do to lose weight or fix my flare ups or to cure myself. Yep, some people think we can be cured of everything I have listed by drinking kale smoothies and not eating whatever it is that is supposedly killing us now. It’s rude as hell and none of your business what I eat. Every person’s reactions to autoimmune diseases are different. Most of the crap you suggest is ultimately unhealthy and you are sizist to suggest it to me knowing nothing more than one or two words of my illness and that I am fat.
Fourth, I’d really like everyone to take a breath and give folks like me a little more time. To get places, to eat, to read, to breathe. I cannot react quickly anymore. I shuffle along as best as I can but I need to take multiple breaks. Navigating the stairs in movies is going to take a bit and to avoid your wrath I do my best to get to them early. Walking through the grocery store is a struggle of pain and humiliation and I know I should get the motorized cart but I want to cry thinking about it. I don’t want to care what any of you think but I also don’t want to end up the subject of a meme.
Fifth, I would like you to understand I may not be able to go to that party, or meet you for lunch, or dinner. And it may be at the last minute I need to cancel. I hate that so much. I want to have fun, I want to see you but any one of the things I have can reach out and grab me and make me unable to go. And, even when that is a physical thing, it hurts me mentally. I’ve passed on you again. I’m missing out. I’m always canceling. I am going to lose my friends. Just let me be honest about what’s wrong and maybe swing by on another day for tea or a movie on my television? Text me silly shit, post weird pictures on my Facebook page. Remind me that we are still friends? Please?
Sixth, all of those things up there contribute to my depression. I know it is a chemical imbalance in my brain. I know that I have no control over it but did you know you might? Your careless comments to the person next to you, your constant refrain about how fat you are, your advice, your sniggers and fat jokes all contribute. Knock it off, will ya? I am hard enough on myself. All I need from you is a kind smile. No really, that’s it. That can help a lot.
So, I am depressed and not feeling like myself. And I worry and worry until I am proven wrong. And my daily mental forecast changes almost as rapidly as the weather in Kentucky. Even when the news is good – my Physical Therapist was very kind and sweet – I have trouble seeing the upcoming sunny day.
The barometric pressure of this weighs you down under a humid, hot blanket, doesn’t it? Imagine living it. But there are good things, good days where the pain and depression don’t keep me from smiling. One of those good things is being able to reach out and talk to people about these issues. To find a new person who has been doing what they can to get by with these issues and let them know they are not alone. To find out I am not alone. It’s allowed me to start showing weakness which was hard to do. It’s let me know what the hell was wrong with me and that helps more than anything. And if knowledge of this can get through the fog in my mind, I bet I can get through the fog in someone else’s.
Links to medical conditions mentioned:
Persistant Depressive Disorder: https://psychcentral.com/disorders/dysthymic-disorder-symptoms/
Sjorgren’s Syndrome: https://www.sjogrens.org/home/about-sjogrens
Subdural Hematoma: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000713.htm
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome): http://www.pcosaa.org/pcos-overview/
Rebecca is a blogger, aspiring voice actor, and professional grump. She loves to play video games, table top RPGs, fight the patriarchy, and serve four demanding guinea pigs.