Depression Marathon Blog

My photo
Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Week Three Round-Up

Here's what week three of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon Training Program looked like:

Week Three: March 24 - March 30, 2008
Ran: 5 days
Miles: 28.5
Long run: 7.8 miles
Speedwork: 2 pace runs, total of 6.5 miles at tempo pace
Found Money: only skunked on one day, but found only $0.05 this week--the street-sweepers have arrived!

Good week. Legs a bit tired, but pace improving while heart-rate maintaining.
Have a swell week everyone!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

For the Bible Tells Me So

See this movie. If you are or know someone who is gay or lesbian, or if you have been touched by mental illness, suicide, well-meaning but misguided spiritual advice, or shame and guilt because of your condition, you will be moved by this documentary. I am ordering my copy today. Wow.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

suicide

It has been on my mind. Earlier this week there was the JK Rowling article and hate-filled responses that set me off. Disturbing and cold. Tonight, I am going to a documentary movie entitled, For the Bible Tells Me So, about parents in 5 "faith-based" families and their responses after learning one of their children is gay. Gay and lesbian teens are at extremely high risk of suicide. They are 3 to 7 times more likely to complete suicide, and for every completed suicide there are 20 gay and lesbian teens who make an attempt!
Finally, I just came from reading Untreatable's blog. His two most recent posts are about suicide. I am going to attempt to include the same video clip he had in one of his posts because it was so powerful. It is the trailer from a 2006 documentary called, The Bridge, which documents jumpers from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and includes interviews with families and friends in an attempt to understand their suicides. I have not seen it, but I will.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwl-Pa_QT0M

WHY? That's what you're asking, right? Why would you want to watch that?
Because I've been there. Except instead of a bridge, I was on a cliff; my toes hanging over the edge stirred loose pebbles and sent them tumbling straight down. I was 15, I think. I don't know how long I stood there. It felt like forever. The wind whipped against my face. The waves crashed against the rocks below, but I don't remember any sound. I was frightened. I was relieved. Sitting here today, I can feel my body standing there, two or three times leaning forward--ready, going...closing my eyes, opening them again. There was no sound.
It was time, although this wasn't what I had planned. And that, perhaps, is one of the only reasons I didn't go. This wasn't the plan. The plan's final was still a couple weeks away, and I hadn't finished everything yet. But the opportunity was here, now. I loved this place, and it felt so right, so okay.
Leaned forward once again. Cold, carrying wind. Warm, penetrating sun. Silence. Peace. Closed my eyes. Pebbles tumbled anew.

VOICES! Damn!

Kids. Kids below. Boys on the rocks. Where the hell did they come from? Can't jump now, I might hit one of them. Damn. Did they see me?
Sit down. Hug my knees. Cry. The wind is cold. The waves are loud. Cry, cry, cry...at least two more weeks of pain.


It was years later, maybe 20 years later, when I learned one of those kids was my youngest brother. He and his friends thought I was going to jump, he said. It wasn't until adult depression wrapped me in its suicidal grasp that he told me this. My brother...was one of those kids.
Thank God I didn't jump.

Related Post: a birthday of sorts

Thursday, March 27, 2008

ignorance

I can't get one of them
out.
OUT of my head.

Bouncing, banging, bashing between my ears
it is.
Loud
Hard
Sharp

Stabbing like a knife.
Screeching
as nails on a chalkboard.
Rubber
screaming on pavement
tires locking before the hit.

It is not a disease
Loud-
It is not a disease.
Hard-
A state of mind,
Sharp-
nothing more.

"Depression is not a disease,
it is a state of mind
and nothing more."
Slam!
"Get over it."
Slam!
SLAM!

a state of mind
a state of mind...
Get
Over
It.

Loud. Hard. Sharp.
SLAM!

ouch.

Related post: JK Rowling speaks of suicide--HATE responds

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Med List...

I was just over on crackedheadblog where he has a page which lists his medications. I'm impressed. I don't think I could do that. I'm a little embarrassed by the cocktail of drugs I require to keep this illness under control. I even dread the med question at all of my other healthcare appointments. Why does my eye doctor need a list of all of my medications? Actually, I understand the necessity of the question, but it still sucks when they ask it! First of all, I can't remember all of them all of the time, and if they want the dosages and pill sizes, too, well FORGET it! But the bigger issue is that reeling off a long list of psychiatric meds is another opportunity to be pre-judged and labeled by people I don't know and who don't know me. Of course, I shouldn't care what they think, right? But, as I noted in yesterday's post, even healthcare professionals are filled with pre-conceived notions which may negatively affect our interactions and my treatment. So the revealing of "the list" is always done with great trepidation and is followed by careful observation of my questioner for a hint of the reaction. Will I be treated with dignity and compassion? Will my concerns, comments and thoughts be respectfully considered? Or will I suddenly become less interesting, believable, or worthy of the pro's time? It's a critical tipping point that I am forced to repeat with each new healthcare contact I make. Sometimes it's worth it, and I become a repeat customer, but sometimes it's not, and I move on to the next dentist, orthopedist, or allergist on the list.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Let's talk about BORDERLINE

Sticking with the hate-theme from yesterday, today is the perfect day to discuss Borderline Personality Disorder. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) sent me an e-news alert today requesting support for a bill which would recognize BPD Awareness Month. Follow the link below to check it out for yourself.
Borderline Awareness Month

And with that simple alert, I have now experienced in just a few months THREE things I NEVER thought I'd see in my lifetime! Are you kidding me, Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month nationwide? (In case you are wondering, the first two things-I-never-thought-I'd-see have to do with a woman, a black man and the U.S. presidency.)

My shock is justified. BPD is not only one of the most misunderstood psychological diagnosis, but it is also one of the most dreaded and hated! In my time as a mental health professional and patient, I have seen this diagnosis used like a garbage can. It was routinely slapped on patients who spoke-up too much, disagreed too often, were "difficult" to deal with or simply rubbed the practitioner (myself included) the wrong way. It was, and still is used almost as a punishment. The thinking seems to go something like this: You won't do what we want you to do. You keep coming back to the hospital. You are not getting better, and I don't enjoy working with you! Therefore, you must be Borderline. OUCH! I often question whether the diagnose-er even understands the actual DSM criteria on which the diagnosis is actually based.

As a patient, and those of you who read my earliest posts know about my own diagnosis with BPD, this label essentially assures professional maltreatment at least once in your future. I, unfortunately, have several juicy, disgusting examples I could provide. Entering an emergency room for mental illness is fascinating when BPD is on your chart. Without actually having a clue, I immediately knew when the person who was treating me gained the knowledge of my past medical history. The change from concerned healthcare professional to scolding, you're-wasting-my-time parent was hard to miss. Despite psychological testing, psychiatric documentation, and even personal phone calls from several of my providers, I had a social worker who never believed I had depression at all. As far as she was concerned, I was a spoiled brat with a "serious personality disorder." That last statement was made to my tearful mother who could not understand how her despondent, almost lifeless daughter got taken to court and then stuck in a horrid state mental hospital (think One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) 200+ miles from home after a serious suicide attempt. It was the ultimate punishment the social worker could reign, and my mother and I believe she was quite proud of her accomplishment. It was a small county with no other options, and ultimately I had to move out of the county, at great personal and emotional expense, just to receive fair and compassionate care.

Fair and compassionate care is not typical for people branded with Borderline. But, when I spoke up and demanded better services, I was "being difficult" and reinforcing the diagnosis. When I could no longer fight for what I needed, I felt like the shamed puppy who piddled on the carpet, and my depression worsened. It doesn't have to be like that, but it is. Even today, after Dialectical Behavior Training and lots of practice, I still carry this diagnosis although I no longer officially qualify.
Perhaps that is one of the biggest misconceptions about BPD. It feels like a death sentence stamped on your forehead, but it's not! It is totally treatable and changeable! And it is totally within the power of the afflicted individual to cure it! I didn't know that! And unfortunately, I don't think most doctors, therapists, social workers, etc...know that! If I could get rid of my depression by learning some new skills, perfecting them with practice, and integrating them into my daily life, I would have been CURED a long time ago!! That's what I did with BPD, and I no longer suffer (yes, people with this diagnosis are suffering) from it.

Because of DBT and some hard work my life is easier today. Until I have to go to the hospital, that is, where I am still branded with BPD. They don't know me. They don't know I've changed, and it's easier to keep writing down that diagnosis and treating me "as if" than to actually sit down and properly evaluate and diagnose me. Of course they could take my psychiatrist's word for it, or my psychologist's word for it, or my social worker's word for it... ahhh, but that's a discussion for another time...

Congrats NAMI on making Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness a priority. At some point the hating has to stop and the understanding must begin.

Related post: It all started when...

Monday, March 24, 2008

JK Rowling speaks of suicide--HATE responds.

Hate and ignorance prevailed today in response to JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, when she revealed that she had suffered depression and considered suicide earlier in life.
JK Rowling: I considered suicide as a struggling single mother the Daily Mail
For me, it was quite a horrifying introduction to the online social networking and discussion forum communities. It was only shortly after finally figuring out how to link my blog to and sign up for all of these cool sites that I came happily across this article. "Wow! Great," I thought! "Good for her!" I was feeling really fine. I was thankful the world would get to see a successful, intelligent, creative person could suffer from an illness which is rarely associated with successful attributes. My sense of gratitude and relief quickly turned to horror, however, as I began reading the comments in response to this article on those "really cool" websites.

Here are a select few of the 150 current comments on digg.com. Warning: if you have a weak stomach or a low frustration tolerance, you may want to discontinue reading now.

  1. umm, big deal. who hasn't thought about suicide before? oops.... thats right. my fault. because she's famous this is somehow more important.
  2. She decided against it when she realized she could torture the world with her writing
  3. SORRY YOU'RE RICH BUT DON'T REALLY CARE
  4. Wow, everyone gets depressed once in their life. Next on digg, Brad Pitt: I went through puberty.
  5. I don't even see why her attempt at suicide is news. Everyone thought about it at least once.
  6. she should have gone through with it
  7. WHY IS THIS ON THE FRONT PAGE!!!!!The woman is one of the richest people on the planet. So how is this supposed to make any difference in ANYONE'S life or situation. WHO CARES!!!!!Kevin please fix the algorithm to keep crap like this away from those of us who actually give a shit about what gets here. This makes Digg BORING and less interesting and intellectually useful than it used to be.
  8. Oh please - who hasn't "contemplated" suicide at some point in their life?Next up? JK Rowling considered taking a shower instead of a bath! Potter fans SHOCKED!
  9. Too bad she didn't spare us 7 god awful books and slit her wrists in the late 90s.
  10. depression isn't a disease. It's a state of mind & nothing more than a word. snap out of it!

There's not much left to say...there were a few defenders among the haters, but the vast majority are reflected within the 10 statements I've included above. Wow...

I feel really sad and discouraged. I don't generally get involved in these discussions for that reason. I guess I prefer NOT to know how much hate, rage, envy and self-centeredness there really is in this world. And I think the anonymity of the internet allows for the underbelly of feelings to pour freely from within. It saddens and scares me.

Are people really this mean? Can they really NOT comprehend another person's experience AT ALL, despite their feelings about that person? Is my neighbor who smiles and snow blows my driveway when I can't get out to shovel blasting JK Rowling (and me) for being weak, lazy, attention-seeking, money-grubbing, malingerers with fake illnesses?! I don't want to know. It takes a lot less energy to treat my neighbor with respect and expect that he also respects me. That keeps my life simpler today, and I guess that's the way I need it to be.

Week Two Round-Up

Here are the details of a good week!
Week Two: March 17 - 24, 2008, of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon Training Program
Ran: 6 days!
Miles: 27.3 miles.
Long Run: 6.3 miles.
Speedwork: maybe 1.5 miles at Pace.
Found Money: $0.57 for NAMI.

A good week of running, but I actually MISS swimming now! Go figure!
Have a great week!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Holidays running alone

Running through the streets late this afternoon, I was reminded of similar runs last Christmas and Thanksgiving Days. The weather, perhaps, was similar. I was running with Puck each time, and each occasion was a "family" holiday. My memory was tripped, however, because during each run the streets were eerily quiet despite the sunshine time of day. Today, I was even transported back to 1991 when I ran a beautiful Easter-day 7-miler around the Charles River in Boston. Quiet, quiet, quiet... There is something serene about running through a sunny, quiet city in the middle of the day. The usual raucous activity occurs, on holidays, behind closed doors rather than in the streets. So, despite being alone on each of these gathering days, I have found beauty and serenity on the vacated streets. I could feel sad and pathetic spending holidays alone, but instead I discovered today that being single creates a unique gift. I receive the gift of empty streets and public solitude because all around me pull their families inside and close the doors. I get to enjoy the city as few ever do. Like today, when it was bright and alive, yet expansive and serene. Just me and Puck cruising down the middle of the street...
AND--
I have a feeling my last three holidays alone may have been a bit more enjoyable than some of the family-laden holidays unfolding behind the doors I passed.
Happy Easter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A bipolar home test...yikes!

Today I read an article about a doctor who is marketing a home bipolar genetic test. This is very worrisome on so many levels, I am not sure where to start. First of all, as I have asked before in this space, why aren't persons with possible mental illness seeking medical attention? Stigma, that's why. Instead of asking a doctor for a diagnosis, people with mental illness would rather take an online quiz to get diagnosed, search for cures via the internet, and will now pay $399.00 for a home genetic test of questionable value!
I am totally in favor of genetic testing for mental illnesses. Increasing our knowledge of the cause of these debilitating conditions will only improve our successful and efficient treatment of them. However, this test is based on very loose and very preliminary scientific data. It is based on only two genes which are present in people with and without bipolar disorder.

Among hundreds of families Kelsoe has studied, one of the gene variations in
the Psynomics test showed up in 1 percent of those unaffected by the disorder
versus 3 percent who are affected. The other variation appeared in 7 percent of
those without bipolar compared to 15 percent who have the disease.
As noted above, the two genes are present only 2% and 8% more often in those with bipolar disorder than in those without the disease. Two genes. Less than 10% difference in prevalence. These are hardly eye-popping numbers! We've got culture, environment, socio-economic factors, genetics...It seems a bit premature, perhaps irresponsible to market a test purporting to diagnose bipolar disorder based on only two barely significant genes.

What does releasing this test now accomplish? With so little science to base them on, the results will have little to no meaning. They'd be irrelevant, really. Unfortunately, consumers will see the results only as science, not as thinly supported, almost unsupported, irrelevant science. And that is dangerous. The doc will be $399.00 richer. The consumer will be $399.00 poorer. And what has been accomplished? False negatives. False positives. Results without meaning? If the research supporting the test looks hopeful, why not wait to release the test when it can actually provide meaningful results?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

another streak begins?

One dime within two blocks, a quarter one mile later, and I found today ($0.35) more than half of last week's total ($0.63) found money amount! Skunked yesterday in suburbia... Struck it rich today in the neighborhood... Guess I need to run closer to home. Another streak?

Who flipped the switch?

A few weeks ago it was a slow motion rollercoaster. Depression, that is. I had plenty of instability, sharp turns, peaks, valleys, and loop-de-loops, but there was no speed, no urgency, no excitement, no stimulation, and definitely no, "weeeeeee!"

Today, my ride has drastically changed! I either jumped tracks from the kiddie carts to the big-kid coaster, or someone flipped that giant red switch--you know, the one that says DANGER underneath it--'cuz I am screaming along the tracks! Screaming; and trust me, it's not, "Weeeeee" you'll hear hurtling from within! No, I believe I've skipped the, "Weeeee," and gone straight to, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh," and "Whhhhhooooooooooaaaaaaaaaa!"

Don't get me wrong. I love rides, especially rollercoasters. I love that feeling of being out of control screaming along the tracks, getting tossed about, bounced around, jerked out of my seat and snapped back down. Love it. But when it comes to my brain daily bouncing, jerking, and snapping about within my skull...not so fabulous! And that's the ride my depression has now chosen. I've gone from too slow to too fast without a sniff of a hot dog and Coke at the scenic overlook of just-right.

That just doesn't seem right. When do I get to choose the ride? When do I get to drive? I wouldn't mind a Coke and a pretty view once in awhile.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

one streak ends...

Well, it had to end sometime...
Apparently, suburbanites walk with their heads down, or don't have holes in their pockets, or have more children roaming the streets because not one lonely penny was waiting for me today during my suburban 5-miler. I have to admit, I'm a bit sad.
The odds finally caught up with me today. A new streak, I hope, will start again tomorrow. Maybe it won't involve money...but I'll be looking for something to latch onto because there's been something more than training occurring here. I don't know what...but I'm having fun playing along!

...if I can't change the world, I'll change the world within my reach.
--Catie Curtis

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

7 in a row

Seven days in a row now... Since I began keeping track with my piggy bank find just over a week ago, I have not gone for one run without at least 2 pennies magically appearing at my feet. I was getting a little concerned tonight, as I was penniless with only a few blocks to go, and darkness was closing in fast. But just as I began thinking tonight may end the streak, a dirty silver nickel winked from the gravel beneath my feet. I giggled as I stooped to scoop it up. Thanks, God. Still not sure what the message is, but I am sure having fun with this added dimension to my runs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Week One Round-Up

The official totals of my first week of the Garry Bjorklund Half-Marathon Training Program:
Week 1: March 10 - March 16, 2008
Ran: 5 days
Miles: 19.9
Long Run: 6.2 miles
Speed Work: nada
FOUND MONEY: $0.63 for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Of note: I found money every single day I ran!! Isn't that cool??!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'd be RICH!

If ideas were worth dollars, I'd be a millionaire! My brain is full of them! They are literally flying around up there! (What about doing this? Could a person make this do that and that do this? Why isn't anyone doing that?) Learning about blogging, developing and marketing an online business, writing...there are so many possibilities... I am constantly thinking about how to improve, change, or create beneficial products and situations. I don't know why or when this started, but it is getting a bit ridiculous! You see, I am really good at brainstorming ideas and some plans, but my skill-set is limited, whereas my ideas are not.
I am full of creative ideas bashing around my head as if participants in a roller derby, but I don't know how to stop the metaphorical action and turn it into physical action. Which idea do I pluck from the pile-up? Where do I take it from there? If I don't have the skills, do I throw the idea out, or do I offer it to somebody else? Who? Where do I find that person? Maybe I can learn the skills. Maybe that's too overwhelming, and scary, and feels like it would take too long. What's too long? And on, and on, and on...

Perhaps because of this illness, I have lost the ability to piece together multiple thoughts, concepts, or ideas into one coherent whole. It is incredibly frustrating, because it is a skill I implemented with little conscious thought previously. Without that coherent plan, leaping into action has been a gigantic hurdle. Inertia and fear grab tight when I only have a fragmented, shifty plan. Instead of action, I end up with an overcrowded roller derby of ideas, each fighting for position while bombing around my brain. And I don't know what to do with that. What do I do with that?

If only ideas were worth dollars...
I'd
be
rich.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Fear.

The travel company I represent is doing some amazing, exciting things, and it's great! It's been tough for me to build a business. It has required patience and energy, and I often have a short supply of both! But really, that is not what has held me back. I have been stymied by everyone's favorite villian--FEAR! God, I hate that word! FEAR.

Fear gets in my way when I want to talk to someone about what we have to offer. It gets in my way because I don't like to hear no. Fear squelches my excitement in a heartbeat. Fear clouds my judgement, makes poor decisions, and puts me to bed. Fear sucks!

I have always had fear. We all have fear. We succeed by learning to confront it, challenge it, and walk through it. I know I have walked through a LOT of fear over these past seven years. With repetition, many of my fears have given in and stepped aside as I've continually walked by. But there are two particular bullies on the block that won't give up. They sense they retain the upper hand. They step in my way, trip me up, and push me down, and they will continue their bullying as long as they can.

For as long as I allow them, my fears of rejection and failure will continue to be my neighborhood tormentors. It is not enough for me to identify them. It is not enough to gather intelligence about them. It is only when I take action! It is only when I take action--confront them, challenge them, and walk through them that I will be truly free! And when I am truly free, I will be truly successful; not the other way around. I have a great opportunity with this business to be very successful, but I hope I don't waste the opportunity to be free.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

taking the road less traveled

A visionary, that's what she said. Visionary? Wow. She was halfway through her next sentence before my brain could register the word, digest its meaning, and spit out my dumbfounded response. I told her I was damn sure visionary was a word never before linked with my name. It was hours later when I really understood the compliment I had been paid.

We had been talking about my business ideas, rehashing the previous week's negative rehab services appointment, and reviewing my goals. I was detailing how I needed to shape my goals to fit within my limits--the limits forced upon me by this illness. The visionary compliment landed here. She explained "visionary" by saying that I was, "certainly taking the road less traveled." (one of my favorite poems, by the way!) I am looking for something, a job, that fits, rather than contorting into something that will likely never fit. She's right. I am on the less popular path.

That fact is I have been on this path for seven years. Aloud I said, "I was placed on this path. I didn't have a choice!" What her comment highlighted, however, is that now I am taking the less worn path. I hadn't realized I'd been doing that!

When...when did I start taking this path? When did I stop fighting? When did I start going with the punch rather than hitting depression back? Over time, something changed. I changed. Maybe depression got to choose one path over another, but today I choose whether to take the given path or to sit resentfully and die. It is with great gratitude and humility that I choose to move.

See you all in the clearing up ahead...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

feeling groovy

groovy.
a
simple
no doubt
singular
meaning
word.
groovy
la ta da de da da
feeling groovy.

running

4 days
consecutively.

oodles
turned trickles
turned a
dollop
of
mystery pennies
conspicuous
in
my
path.

God?
take time
stop
be generous
notice
focus out not in
breathe...

messages?
meaning?
interpret or ignore
choose the fit

maybe
more than one
will
do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

more found money

another easy 3-miler, another dime and 4 pennies for NAMI. gotta love when the snow melts in sunny Minnesota!

Monday, March 10, 2008

and the training begins...

Found 16 cents during my easy 3-miler today on my first official day of the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon Training Program. Check out the Found Money File in the right sidebar of this blog. I've decided to keep track of all the cash and coins I find this year while running (or walking for exercise). At the end of the year, I'll donate the proceeds to my local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) organization. If any of my readers know how I can make this an interactive project--a place where you guys could input your found money, too--please let me know. Might be kind of fun!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

prosperity in the road

Sometimes I just have to smile.
I have had one of the longest weekends of my life! While I made it out to one meeting and lunch yesterday, I spent the rest of the weekend in bed. Every time I got out of bed thinking I was done with that sleeping thing, I got sucked right back in. Neither my mood nor my body could lift long enough to do much more than change the radio station. Today was even worse. I wanted to get some exercise. I got up. I laid back down and fell asleep. I got up. I laid back down and fell asleep. I got up...you get the idea. It was almost 5:00 PM when I couldn't stand it anymore. I just had to get out of bed! I had to exercise! Finally, I threw off the covers and asked Puck if he wanted to go for a run. That clinched it. I hadn't even gathered the energy to stand yet, but once Puck gets the question, there is no turning back. With his overbearing expectation encouraging my every move, we made it out the door within 20 minutes.
As you can imagine, 2 days in bed while consuming nothing but pizza and ice cream do not lend themselves to a productive, feel-good run! As my favorite teenager so eloquently puts it, "DAH!!!" So, the run was actually a run/walk at a frustratingly leisurely pace. But, hey, I was pretty impressed with myself--I was vertical! And, it turns out, when you take walk breaks in the spring in Minnesota, you find MONEY! I found two quarters early in my first walk break. Nice. I thought, is this God's way of saying, "Way to go?"
Three miles later I approached my block and began walking much earlier than I would have normally. As I crossed the intersection near my house there was another quarter right off the curb! Thanks! One more step--I found a dime and a penny. I started thinking, "I gotta have a slow, crappy run more often!" As I reached the middle of the intersection it suddenly appeared that someone had lost their entire piggy bank! There were hundreds of coins scattered everywhere! They were nearly all pennies and in typical Minnesota fashion they were nearly ground into the asphalt from repeated snowplow assaults.
I briefly contemplated leaving the coins there, as they were only pennies. But they were everywhere, and I wouldn't want some little kid wandering out there to get them, I rationalized. So, after about 10 minutes of using one free hand (Puck was in the other) to pluck the coins, and quick reflexes to dodge the traffic, I walked away with a mitten full of money. My total payoff for getting out of bed and forcing a semi-crappy run was 199 pennies, 3 quarters, 3 dimes, and 1 nickel--$3.09. Not bad. Funny how things work out.
Sometimes I just have to smile.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Luxury of Disability

Where did people ever get the idea that living on disability was easy and luxurious? I have been brushing my teeth in the kitchen for two years because I cannot afford to replace my bathroom sink. Exposed plumbing in the bathroom...incredibly luxurious! Why would I ever want to give this up?
Crazy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

brain drain

That title is deceiving--brain drain--but it sounded better than absolute, unmitigated, complete, whole body drain. (yup, been playing with my thesaurus again)

One frustrating consequence of this illness is that difficult situations, like the one I described on 3/3/08, often have lasting effects. Despite my mood going into these interactions, idiots talking down to me, making degrading assumptions about me, and taking advantage of their positions of power often knock me down for days. That's clearly happened this time. Despite being prepared for aloofness from Mr. Jeff, Rehab Services Pro, based purely on his aloof, almost annoyed tone on my voicemail, I still couldn't handle his negativity. Now I'm a pretty tough, educated, stand-up-for-myself person, yet this jerk had me reduced to frustrated, angry tears midway through our appointment. (Ladies, don't you hate it when that happens?!! God, I hate that! As the tears were surprisingly rising from within, my brain was screaming, NO!!) I cried afterward, too, hard. At first I couldn't understand why I was unable to stop crying. But it soon made sense.
It makes even more sense today, 3 days later. I was humiliated. Prior to my appointment with Mr. Jeff, I had put hours of thought, time and research into how to create a productive work-life and get off disability. This guy's job is to assist people in this quest. Yet, he was condescending and purposefully unhelpful from the get-go. He was also literally stunned when I announced my intent to get off disability as part of my plan. Stunned. "Oh, you want to get off disability," he asked? At that point it was my turn to be stunned. I thought that was the point! This was moments before the tsunami of tears. "Yes," I said emphatically. "This is not FUN for me!" ('This' meaning living on disability) Despite my protestations, Mr. Jeff remained dubious and continued bricking the walls in my path.
Sadly, it was only after I began crying that Mr. Jeff seemed to realize that I wasn't just another statistic. He softened and actually made an appointment for me to follow-up with another agency. But he thought I was crying because, as he said to me, "I'm sorry if you don't like what I have to say." If I could have, I would have screamed through the tears. I didn't care if he said no to my plan. I cared that from his voicemail up to that moment he had clearly conveyed no, as in, "I have no time for this. I have no interest in this. I have no belief in you, your illness, your story, or your needs. And I have no desire to challenge my preconceived notions by listening to you." That's why I was crying, Mr. Jeff. I don't mind being told no. I mind being treated as if I am lazy, inferior, or at fault because of my diagnosis. Perhaps, Mr. Jeff, you would feel more satisfied working with the innocent victims of real illnesses instead of making people like me the victims of your unprofessionalism.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

depression hurts.

walls

banging my head against the wall
banging
banging
bang
bang
bang
wall down
new wall
wall down
new wall
is it worth it?

wall down
new wall
wall down
new wall
why bother?
bang
bang
new wall
new wall

why bother...
so few reserves
too many walls
head
aches.

Monday, March 3, 2008

if only I had a TUMOR

If only I had a nice, socially acceptable illness, I wouldn't be treated like a pile of shit.

If Hallmark recognized my illness, the vocational services professional (and I use that term loosely) looking down from across his desk wouldn't have interrupted me and asked, "so when you say you 'got sick' what does that mean, are you bipolar, do you hear voices..."
"No, like I said, I have unipolar depression." I replied.
"So, you take some sort of medication," he sneered?
"Yes."
"Are you com-pli-ant?"
His tone was decidedly Un-Hallmark-like, and I was seething internally! I was trying to maintain a cordial, professional demeanor, but I wanted to scream at him! If he had bothered to look at me with open eyes or listen with open ears, it should have been obvious there was no need for that demeaning question! I've worked in his field. I've been in his chair. It is after noticing certain signs and symptoms that one should ask a person that question and ask it out of concern not cocksureness.
But rather than scream, I quietly stated, "My first career was mental health. I was a master's level clinician." I rarely pull that card from the deck, but in this situation I believed it was my best move.
"Oh," he said, as he leaned back in his chair. "So what you're telling me is you know all about this stuff."
"Yes," I stated. "Like I said, I didn't get sick until 7 years ago--November, 2000." We were back where we had started.
"So why are you here," he asked again?
To make a long story short, I began explaining, again, that I was on disability because of my depression and no longer able to work full-time. I told him the unpredictability of my illness made it difficult even to predict success in a regular part-time position. (I noted that most employers don't allow their employees to nap in the middle of the day!) Since his organization provided funding for disabled people seeking job training or developing businesses, I briefly described my ideas about creating a home-based internet business.
The effort was futile. I was talking uphill the entire time and repeatedly interrupted with questions such as, "Who said you couldn't work?" and comments like, "Well we only have X-amount of dollars. Where are you going to get the rest?" In the 2 seconds it took for me to amble from his office door to my interrogation chair, this bureaucrat had figured me out, or so he thought. Before I even sat down, he knew who I was based on my diagnosis alone. Prior to opening my mouth, Mr. it's-my-job-to-help-people-return-to-work concluded that I was a malingering, lazy, manipulative "consumer," and I was only there to steal funds from other, more deserving victims of real illnesses. I didn't have a chance.



.