Depression: Shared & my experience.

I read THIS BLOG POST back in September when it was written. It struck close to home for me. The quote at the beginning was what resonated the most for me. When you’re really struggling, it does become about what is most frightening: continuing to live with the disease; or escaping through the route of suicide with unknown consequences, but with which comes a certainty of escaping the symptoms of the disease- the ultimate final end.

Being a new-agey type, having alternative beliefs to much of society, I spend a lot of time around people that think you can just think your way out of depression with the power of the law of attraction. Think happy thoughts and you’ll be happy.

As I’m discovering, that is hardly right.

The book I’m Reading, which was provided by my therapist, has been super helpful.

See It Here:

The Deression Cure by Dr. Stephen Ilardi

It really gets to the heart of the matter. There is a distinct difference between the emotion “Depression ” listed at the lowest position #22 on the emotional guidance scale, and the clinical disease with the common umbrella term of the same name.

The emotion Dr. Ilardi points out, is often a short lived disposition, the feeling place of something very difficult having happened in your life experience. It serves a role in the grief process and can help us make sense of elements within our life journey.

The disease, though it shares many characteristics of which the feelings and emotions are definitely present, is a much more sinister and all consuming state of being often with a medical cause.

As I wrote in my previous post, it seems a major factor for me is Inflammation- possibly because of my severe allergies, but also possibly [as Dr. Ilardi posits] simply due to an imbalance of Anti-Inflammatory Omega 3’s-thus diet related. Regardless, the most basic mechanism at play is that the inflammation is happening in the brain, literally causing a build-up of pressure on the brain, and causing it to malfunction.

Since starting therapy, reading the book, and taking action steps to adjust my diet and lifestyle choices. I can honestly say there is definitely a connection. Dr. Ilardi lays out 6 areas of lifestyle choices and swears that making very specific adjustments to those areas will result in reducing inflammation and essentially curing clinical depression.

Now, I’m not fully through the book. Still reading, but I’m working on making positive changes weekly, if not daily. One of the areas, meaningful social interactions, I felt pretty good about. I haven’t gotten to that chapter yet, but I know my friends are large factor as to why I’ve gotten as far as I have. I’ve never quit interacting with them or our home-school group, and I am grateful that they have literally held me and walked me through some of my rough days.

So first, was to go back on my strict version of the Pregnancy Diet (I plan on detailing what that means for me at some point soon). Second, was I started exercising again. I aim for 3 times a week, but some weeks I’ve managed 4 times. 3rd: I started taking fish oil. The book walks through how to determine how much to take depending on the nutrition label of the supplement you choose. For me that’s 6 a day, but occaisonally I feel the need for a 7th one (usually when I know I’ve made bad food choices). I mostly remember to do this, because in my morning routine I put all my supplements and allergy/thyroid meds into a pill box. The trick is remembering my lunch and dinner doses, and I do sometimes forget to take them.

Then I re-introduced light therapy. I had done light therapy in college, and for a while after graduating. It was when I was working in cubicle land and experiencing a severe bout of seasonal depression. At that time I simply had a high wattage bulb in a desk lamp that I aimed at my face the entire time I was working. This time however, my therapist gave me some tips to  ensure optimal results. It apparently needs to be above eye level aimed downward at a minimum of 30degrees. The higher the watts the better. And if you do 30 to 60 min of light in the first hour after waking it works best- gets you a really good kick start. I’ve been successfully remembering all that about 2/3 rd’s of the time for about 2 weeks.

The one element I’m struggling with is sleep hygiene. As of the first of the year I had adjusted my schedule to accomodate a 7 day paper route for extra income. It’s roughly 3 hours of work a night, and equals a little over half of what my current massage work comes out to. So, it’ll end up not quite doubling our family income. The schedule adjustment would have been fine if the papers were reliably on time. As I’m discovering what is actually the case, is that they rarely are. So, where I’d allotted myself 6 to 7 hours a night/morning during a fairly steady window. In actuality, I’m getting more like 4.5 to 6 hours of  sleep. It’s the same time frame each day, which is good, but I’m simply not getting enough. Nathan has offered to remedy this by doing the route by himself at least most of the time. I worry about a black man with dreds  (& heart disease) tooling around rural Missouri in the middle of the night, every night, so I’ll still be helping as often as I can manage. I don’t know what I would do if he died on route by himself, especially if it was at the end of someone’s gun. However, that being said, I think I’m not going to argue, as I desperately need more sleep each night.

As it happens, the sleep manifests fairly quickly for me. I get super cranky super fast, and I nose dive into depression when my minimal energy reserves run out. I also start having disjointed and incomplete thought processes. It makes for very difficult communication. So, the last 13 days have been fairly roller coaster like for me. Last night though, Nathan went out alone, so I’m doing better today.

That being said, even at my most sleep deprived, the last 2 weeks has been better than prior to Thanksgiving. I’m not 100% better, not “cured” yet, but I’m better enough to acknowledge that Dr. Ilardi’s TLC program is working. When I’ve had sleep I feel great. Even if I’ve had most of a nights sleep I still manage. That to me is huge, because before Thanksgiving that wasn’t happening.

And that is where the Law of Attraction has been able to come back in. Now that I can see my bad days for being related to sleep, diet, or exercise; I am now able to tell myself “It’s ok, I am where I am becasue of ___ and it will be short lived, this isn’t permanent, it’s meerly a side effect of certain choices catching up to me.” I am able to dig out with phrases like that, at least enough to function. I am able to keep myself going, and to make better choices to help pull out of the nose dive.

Those same phrases with untreated depression, when I had no idea that things were compounding to create inflammation in my brain, were worthless. Positive thoughts would bounce off of me, or flat off piss me off, I had trouble thinking even remotely positively when I was untreated. My brain was so inflamed it wasn’t able to make those connections, I wasn’t able to think straight. I had trouble communicating every day, loosing important things, and melting down at every turn. I simply had no idea that my emotional hurting, my mental hurting was because of very real physical pain caused by inflammation  in my brain.

So I write this in hopes that everyone dealing with depression can read this book. Put it into practice, and begin to heal their brain and their lives. I know I’m on my way there, even if I can’t see the finish line yet.

I hope one day to see every medical practitioner, from CNA to RN to midwife to MD to PhD, tell people about TLC. I have seen literally dozens, possibly over a hundred medical professionals, in my 22 years of struggling with depression. Those medical professionals half-ass-ed my thyroid, failed to treat it, but often offered psych meds. When in reality the thyroid was literally not even half of a larger issue, and failure to treat the whole package is why I’ve struggled with depression for those 22 years, and nearly lost my life to it several times over. IT could have been avoided all-together- if the first doctor being told I’d gained weight and was struggling with depression had genuinely dealt with my thyroid on a unique basis and utilized TLC to treat the rest of my life.

Although that makes me angry to contemplate the hazardous effects it had on my life, I’m more angry that it isn’t being corrected. We continue to crank out doctors, nurses, and all manner of medical professionals, that turn around and create assembly line medication stations instead of actually listening to patients and putting available knowledge to good use to figure out a puzzle and actually provide a real solution. Living on meds that merely mask chronic disease symptoms somewhat while additionally causing side-effects,  then planning to do that for the rest of your life, is not a solution.

That being said, neither option is cheap. I spend approximately $270/month on my Allopathic medications: Fast-acting Inhaler, nebulizer solution, Oral-Steriod (cumulative effect) Inhaler, Zyrtec, Singulair, and Desiccated Thyroid. I spend that much or more on quality supplements that I have seen the benefits from. I continue to take the ones that I’ve watched drop blood sugars. I continue to take magnesium because I have watched leg cramps disappear, and my stress levels drop. I take a good quality multivitamin to avoid all my allergens. I take a good methylated B-complex, with extra p-5-p and 5HTP, because I noticed significant mood improvements before TLC was even a possibility for me. And yes, it’s all very expensive, but I would have lost the battle long ago without them. I am utterly grateful they got me through when none of the doctors did. Perhaps one day, when I’ve mastered TLC, I can eliminate the need for all of it. It’s a process though, my sugars are still high, and I’m still having allergies and asthma symptoms, so for now I keep doing what I’m doing. One step at a time, one little improvement at a time.

On a final note. If you have ever lost someone you cared about to suicide, please stop for a moment and realize how much pain they were in. Think just for a second, did you ever try to genuinely help them, did you offer a ride to a clinic, did you do any research, did you make suggestions in a real hands on “lets try to beat this” approach? IF you had really cared you would have acknowledged their pain. I don’t care if it’s invisible or not, it’s still pain. When someone is in pain, our natural inclination should be to do our best to help, not offer “think positive, it’ll get better” or “think of your family”, those are neither helpful attempts at a possible solution, nor acknowledgement of very real pain. You wouldn’t offer “think positive” to someone with a broken leg, and you wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to “think of their family”. Yet when you do that to someone with clinical depression you are accomplishing both situations. Heaven forbid, you actually did loose someone to suicide, and still choose to blame them. If they were hurting enough to choose suicide, then their pain was unimaginably unbearable, and my heart goes out to them for their suffering, not to you for your loss. What could you have done to acknowledge their pain, and attempt to help find a real solution, and would they still be alive if you had? My own family has no clue that they were almost the ones that missed this message. I no longer talk to or associate with most of my biological family for that very reason. I’ve also lost potential friends in realizing they had no clue, blaming me for being depressed. A depressed person never wants to continually  live with the horrendous pain they bear, yet as a society that is what we have come to expect.

Be different, be the one that actively attempts to help someone out of their pain. Help them find Dr. Ilardi’s book, help find a therapist, if they are having finaincial difficulties help them fill out assistance forms,  if they need transportation see if you or someone you know can give them a ride, help them make TLC changes by being their “buddy system”. You will make at least that person’s life better, and may actually save them from  having to choose between a lifetime of horrible pain or death. They will know you care, because you will have shown it in real-time practical help.

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