Friday, April 20, 2007

The Invisible Illness.

There has been a lot of talk about mental illness and the awareness of it, but unfortunately, not enough talk about the people who are affected. It is still stigmatized by some people, people who should know better. My father-in-law, for example, sees it as a weakness of the spirit, and the only prescription that will help is hard work and Jesus.

I can't disagree with the Jesus part (no, wait, I can), but hard work is even harder when you can't get out of bed in the morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. It's dangerous to swing a hammer when you can't see through your tears.

The illness is tricky. See, it doesn't cause you to limp. It doesn't burn a scarlet 'D' into your forehead. Your neighbor may have it. Your mailman may have it. Your mom, dad, brother, sister, wife, husband, children may have it. YOU may have it.

There are signs to look for, of course. Appetite changes, suicidal thoughts, loss of interest in once-loved activities. Sleeping too much, not sleeping enough.

The symptoms most often overlooked: Irritability or loss of patience with family and friends. Feeling tired after a full night's sleep. Irrational anger.

Why I sought help after thirty years of "living" with depression: I lived as well as I could, hanging on by a thread. Little things set me off. A month ago, I had a major depressive episode, consisting of crying, crying and crying. I couldn't move the five feet to pick up a notebook and pen (writing is my primary therapy). My kids were freaked out and checking on me every hour.

Last week, another one. At this point, I knew I'd have one of these every so often, and each one might be the one that killed me. So after much trouble and way too many hoops for a crazy person to jump through, I finally got what I needed. Which was Zoloft. YMMV.

Side effects include nausea, dizziness, bruxism, insomnia, smiling so much my face hurts, and loving everyone and everything.

If you know anyone that's going through this (especially if it's you), get some help. If you have trouble getting the help, find a friend who knows what to do. It saved my life.

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