Saturday, December 13, 2008

Social Pain of Depression

As anyone who has really suffered from depression knows, the social stigma doesn't help a bit!!

Last night Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) was on Craig Ferguson's show. She talks openly about getting ECT and it helping her immensely. Wow, I'm impressed. I'm glad she is. Years ago I saw Terry Bradshaw, famous NFL quarterback and announcer talk openly about removing the stigma of depression (see link here).

The stigma may be getting better each year but it is still there. (And yes I'll take my own blame for not having the courage to come out and talk about it openly and move the stigma further...)

Take one of my best friends, I consider him as close as a brother. We are there for each other no matter what. We've had our strains as well, but the strains would never jeopardize us being there for each other. Although we don't spend a lot of time together, when we do, it's just like we picked up from where we were. We can finish each other's sentences.

So earlier this year the depression was really getting me down. The fog seemed to be every day - unless I pushed the Ritalin. I investigated ECT and had decided, I need some relief. I discussed it heavily with my gf. (I think that's when she realized how much I struggle with it - enough I'd shock my brain to get some relief).

ECT requires multiple shocks during the week for multiple weeks. Obviously you can't drive yourself so someone has to be there for you. My gf was more than happy to be there, but she can't take off work that much. My friend is self-employed and could afford the time. Also his wife works really close to the hospital so she could even take me with the friend picking me up.... or so I thought.

When I approached him about it over lunch, I was a little taken back. You see, he's suffered from depression too, he told me. But he just puts on some of his favorite music and 'moves on'.

"But you don't understand", I explained, "I can't get out of bed. Or worse, I'll get out and do some things then I'm exhausted and have to lay down. But I don't sleep, I'm just tired all the time".

Friend: "I sometimes feel that way - especially if there are things I need to do that I really don't want to do. So I just don't do them. Eventually I feel like doing them so I do".

In other words, get over it. Get off your lazy butt. (from one of my best friends).

I'll take part of the blame on this one also. If I had been honest a few years back about how I felt, maybe my friends and family would see the pain and notice the declines. A word of advice to those in depression - tell your friends about it in small doses, then increase until they get the picture.

As for the friend, he was adament that he would drive me; pick me up; cover for me; take care of me; but he really didn't think I should do it. Part of that was concern over the ECT side-effects, but most of it was his own belief that I could take care of it with other means.

So I haven't told him about this one. He has my medical power of attorney and all of that, but... I have another friend who by his very nature is a care-taker. The kind that usually become doctors, nurses, psychologists, etc. A people person.

He understands depression. For him, the meds, some therapy but especially the self-help life management program I previously mentioned worked. (I've had all those and am still not there).

The Caretaker will be there. The gf will come in after the surgery, as part of the cover story.

In reality she will probably not follow the script and will be with the Caretaker after I check in. LOL. She's cute and I love her. On the one hand I don't want to deny her the feeling of being there for me from the start, but on the other hand, she can't help me while in the waiting room so she might as well stay at work for a little bit. And then the story goes better.

Just the 2 of them will know the truth. This is elective, experimental surgery. (Well one other close friend out of state knows but he won't be there and he won't tell anyone).

I'm sure the secret is safe on the internet!!! LOL.... sometimes I'm not the smartest, but, oh well.
A couple of commenters have mentioned they've had it done as well, or are in the program. If you're blogging, I wish I had a link. If you have anything you want to add on mine, let me know. (I don't understand all this blogging stuff).

And as for the commenter who pointed out how lucky I am - yes, and thank you for reminding me of my blessings. I am blessed to be given this chance. I am blessed to have 3 heart friends who will share this with me. I am blessed to have my kids who deserve a fully functioning father but will love me no matter what. I am blessed and need to keep that in mind.


Anonymous said...

"So I haven't told him about this one."

I always recommend we be as honest as we can with the people around us... at least those in our support network. It keeps us honest with ourselves, plus it keeps the extra guilt from adding to the problems with our heads.

This is a remarkable thing you're doing... I've tried to put your RSS feed in my sidebar but WordPress doesn't play nice with Blogger. So until I can figure out how to get the feed to work you're definitely in the blogroll.

Anonymous said...

I have perused your site looking for an e-mail address because I would rather FWD my comment privately than post publicly. Likely, in your effort to remain anonymous as I am likewise trying to do, there is no e-mail address to contact you.

As a result, and inspired by Gabriel above, I am just going to post my opinion: don't lie to your family and friends like that. Nothing good can come of it. Ever.

Okay, so a little white lie won't hurt. [wink] But...Holy Guacamole...telling them you were in a car wreck...hit your head...and cracked a clavicle?

How are you going to explain the exactitude of the incisions, yet no peripheral bruising or cuts anywhere else on your head, face, or body? No internal organ damage for such a devastating impact?

And who lets a patient out of the hospital the next day after head surgery from a car wreck? Okay, so you spend the extra night. How did you get from the site of the wreck to the local hospital?

This is just way too complicated, not to mention the incalculable damage from deception, when the lie swells when asked about the details of the wreck, the other driver, insurance and lawsuit complaints.

How about this? Can you tell them that you are having a procedure to treat the (thus-far untreatable)debilitating symptoms of fatigue, myalgia and malaise? Go with narcolepsy if you have to, but please don't tell loved ones you were in a wreck. Tell them you saw a neurologist and after an MRI, he pinpointed the area of your brain that is malfunctioning and causing your condition. Very specific. Very physical. Very medical. We'll deal with social stigma and truth later.

Oh, and trust me, the pacemaker is huge! I had the VNS model and it was minuscule compared to this honker. You're not going to be able to hide the bulge or scar.

I went with a comb-over to hide the incisions on my head with some success. But, nonetheless, the cuts there are going to freak-out your relatives and friends, especially if you shave your head and tell them the wounds are from a wreck.

I can't tell you what to do (and I am somewhat embarrassed that I am even suggesting it). Life is complicated. Life with depression is unlivable. We all do what we need to survive. Do what you must. But, as a anonymous bystander, your "fabrication" riled me enough that I felt compelled to post publicly.

005, do you have a surgery date?

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