Tag Archives: Depression

MS: Let’s talk about Mental illness…mine.

Today I want to write about mental illness… my own.

Anyone who knows me, just a little would use these words to describe me: happy, cheerful, and never stressed. My husband calls me his “optimism”.

Is this the face of depression? Look again.

Is this the face of depression? Look again.

He also says I can be a “Pit Viper”.

I’ve suffered off and on with depression since 1997. I know what I’m talking about. Not sad or a little down but, depressed. During these years, I raised two children, maintained a healthy marriage and taught school. How? You ask. With the help of my big sister who suggested (insisted) that I, at a very young age, twenty-two to be exact, go to a clinical Psychologist. “GO!” She said. “Just trust me and GO!”

She didn’t explain how it would make my life better, but assured me that it would. She was right. I was exhibiting signs of depression then and she saw it. My psychologist helped me to have a deeper understanding of myself and how certain depressed feelings could be affecting the choices that I made. Not his job to judge my choices or to change them, just to help me make the connection between my depressed feelings and my choices; after all, I did have free will. Looking back, he never even used the word depressed. I was young and he was good. No stigma, no darkness, no shame.

This was unheard of in the deeply southern black community from which I had come. This was and still is taboo. Suggested remedies would have been; go to church, pray harder.

Mental health just doesn’t work that way. Neither does dental health. You could no sooner pray away depression than you could pray away a cavity. We do best when we pray and use the resources we’ve been given. Abandoning my Southern Baptist upbringing was not necessary but being open to other things, was.

Mental Health needs to be dealt with aggressively, like Cancer. We pray…yes, but we also use Chemo when we need it. Is there any shame in that? No.

What did help me? Exercise, Mindfulness Meditation, journaling, therapy and years later…medicine.

Managing all of these in the name of depression also gave me a great defense mechanism against stress, which causes my MS to be more active. I can never really separate these things; MS and depression and stress.

The larger point of this post is: a few days ago a beautiful young brown girl, Karyn Washington, only twenty-two years old to be exact, committed suicide.karyn-washington-http://www.cosmopolitan.com/celebrity/news/karyn-washington-suicide

Karen was the creator and founder of “For Brown Girls”, http://www.forbrowngirls.com/, an online inspirational blog which was there for other girls, an undertaking well beyond her years. Her mother recently died of cancer.

She was a gift.

I wish she had had a big sister like mine; or an Auntie, a Teacher, a Minister, a Friend …a STRANGER who cared enough to say “GO! Just trust me and GO to a psychologist”! Someone who understood what was happening and could take the ridicule. There is no shame in that.

There is shame however in letting our ignorance and fear cause us to lose even one more precious gift. We need to open up. Talk about mental health and suicide. Talking about it doesn’t make it happen, just the opposite, it prevents it.

Helpful Links:

New York Times Article: Suicide Prevention sheds Light on Longstanding Taboo.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Depression and Chronic Illness

Psychology Today Magazine

Please share your thoughts and experiences:

 

 

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Filed under Mental Well-Being, Uncategorized

MS and depression: You can’t post that! It’s depressing.

Member 1: “You can’t post that! It’s depressing and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with MS.”

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Board President-Estizer Smith
Board Members-Estizer Smith, Estizer Smith, Estizer Smith,
Estizer Smith

Member 2: “So what…it’s real! Everything in my life involves MS. It’s at the core.

Member 1: “What about your original mission statement and goals? To educate, inspire and inform, it does NONE of those things.

Member 2: “You’re right, it doesn’t, and those are the reasons that we blog. It’s only one post though! It’s balanced out because there are three more waiting that are on the same subject and they are super positive. It was just a tough day emotionally. I DO have those.”

Member 3: “What about all of this BUS DRIVING? Is that all you plan to write about now? If that’s the case then you should start another blog about driving a bus, or one where you can rant about anything you want, but you should say that up front. You set this up as an MS blog. When people click here they expect to find information about MS. It’s misleading. I’d be pissed if I were looking for symptoms, or drug updates. You’ve got to think about your readers.”

Member 4: “HA! What readers! You mean all THREE of them? You are right. That’s absolutely why I started this blog, because I want to share, learn from and engage others with this disease. It’s been over a year and I have all of three readers, only ONE of which actually has MS.”

Member 6: “Be patient. Blogs take time.”

Member 2: “No- I think it’s all good and all inspirational. Even your difficult days; no, especially your difficult days. Those days say to others that it’s not easy, and it can suck, but you can’t give up! Those days say, hold on, things always get better.”

Member 5: “Hmmm, THIS is what sucks. This makes my brain hurt, it’s like cerebral pushups. It may be THIS that’s not worth it. We write but we can’t agree so we stop writing. When we don’t write we’re not happy. It’s a very important stress management tool we’ve used for years.”

Member 6: “So just write. If that’s the case…just write, who cares.”

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Member5:” Then I might as well just write in my journal. That’s what I’ve done for years. The reason for the blog is to share. Share and engage.”

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Filed under MS and Depression, Uncategorized

Meet me for Coffee!

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We’ll set a time when you are free and so am I. No distractions please. You get a cup of coffee or tea at your house, and I do the same at mine. Then, whoever initiated the date makes the call, and we talk just like we would if I could see you. It’s really that simple.

If you’re ever limited in your ability to go out, it’s extremely important to keep your connection with others until you can do more. With MS, you can quickly lose touch; you don’t see it happening until it’s too late.  It’s such an unpredictable disease; you expect to be down for just a bit, but you never know. This withdrawal can lead to an unintended isolation, which leads to depression. It happens quickly. Friends call to talk and go places and you decline more and more. Your speech problems, your balance issues, your spasms, your fatigue. You really just don’t feel like going out.  Even talking on the phone can wear you out. It all takes so much energy. Eventually, they call less and you are relieved.

There are those few that hang in there. They don’t call as often, but they will still call, you can count on it. They’re the ones that understand because you’ve explained this to them when you were well, before the relapse. They call to say they don’t want to talk, the call is just to check on you, and to say that they love you.

Things you can do to make this easier:

1)      Most importantly, talk to your close friends when you are well. Explain to them how it feels when you are having a relapse, as best you can. Each relapse is different, but you can explain how things have gone in the past, and that they may be completely different but to please be patient.

2)      Send a blanket email or text to your selected friends.” I’m not answering calls or emails and such right now because my MS is acting up. Please don’t worry; I need to use my energy wisely.  Another note will come when I’m up to it. Meanwhile, keep the party going.”

3)      Answer calls when you can, but keep it simple. You don’t need to explain everything. “I know I haven’t answered your calls in a while but my MS is acting up and I feel crappy. Please call me back in a couple of days, (weeks, months).” Do not wear yourself out.

As soon as you can, do a little more. Start small. Answer more calls and even make some. Have coffee dates more often, and enjoy them.

Me and Ruthie 🙂300666_10200856069915856_673429886_n

COMMENTS: Please share the things that you do to stay connected that don’t require going out. We could use more ideas.

5 Comments

Filed under Mental Well-Being, MS and Depression, Riding Out a Relapse

My Zen Colonoscopy and Endoscopy

I had to have a colonoscopy and endoscopy because I have Iron Deficiency Anemia. The concern is that, I might be bleeding inside? I entered into my “Zen place” as if on automatic pilot. I could afford to be upset by NOTHING.

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The “prep”, which everyone says is so awful, was a piece of cake! I had to drink a Gatorade/ Miralax mixture and a tiny bottle of stuff that tasted like Sprite. All laxatives. Then, just stay near the bathroom, and wait. I don’t know what all the fuss is about.

The actual procedure was even easier. Because my husband and I were running a little late, I entered into my “Zen place”, as if on automatic pilot. I could afford to be upset by NOTHING. At times of potential stress, I am quite good at this. I keep my mind in this moment only. Not 5 minutes behind, nor 5 minutes ahead. I focus on my breathing, taking very slow, deep breaths. I speak very little, and when I do, it’s much slower and even in a slightly different tone of voice. Deeper. At times like this, my “Zen place” is a great buffer against stress. It keeps me calm.

We get to the hospital and the staff is amazing. They begin to prep me immediately.

Nurse 1: Do you have any religious or cultural beliefs that might make this procedure difficult for you?

Me: Well…um, it’s not religious, but, it may make the procedure a little difficult for me. I am depressed and having some separation issues as well, so I need to have my husband with me when I go to sleep, and when I wake up.

Nurse 1: Oh don’t you worry! When you wake up, I’m going to go right out and call him in for you.

Me: No…you don’t understand (sniff, sniff) when I go under and when I wake up, I need him to be (eyes fill now-voice cracks) RIGHT HERE! (Hand on bed-rail indicating…right here!) and tears begin to fall.

Nurse 1 and Nurse 2: Oh weeee understand, and don’t you worry! One of them summons Kevin, who is standing near by, to come to the bed. We’ll have him right here now, and when you wake! The last thing we want is for your blood pressure to go up, so that’s NO problem!

Great…I’m calm and back in my “Zen place”. Nooow, they can start the I.V. to put me to sleep.

I look at Kevin standing by me and say, “Honey, this stuff is not working. I’m not EVEN sleepy!” He says, “That’s because it’s over!

I don’t know what all the fuss is about!

To learn more about relaxation techniques for stress relief, click this link. There are many ways to find your “Zen place”; which is best for you?

Leave comments please. I’d love for you to share how you respond to stress, and what keeps you calm.

 

4 Comments

Filed under Long Loving Marriages, Mental Well-Being, Mind-Body Connection, MS and Depression, MS and Iron Deficiency Anemia, Stress Management

New MS Drug-Aubagio…I have waited all my life for you!

I went to see the Wizard, and the Wizard he told me to wait.

He said “Don’t take the other MS oral medications  Estizer. I know you’ve injected MS medicine for years and have grown weary. I know that you don’t want to go back on any injection, but if you do, for just two or three months, I can promise you there will be a pill. A pill that I will approve, one that has been on the market for some 30 years already. Unlike the others it has a proven safety record. That will be the pill for you, just hold on.”

The Wizard is Dr. Barry Arnason. He’s the head of Neurology at The University of Chicago and he’s been my Neurologist since 1996. We haven’t always agreed, but that’s how I knew he was the best Doctor for me. He could explain his point well, without being condescending, and he would listen to mine. In the end of course, the decision was mine. I’ll never forget the day we met, he wrote me a script for Prozac! I said, “ What the hell is this for?” he said…”You’re crying”. We had a lot to learn about each other,LOL. He did go on to explain that 50% of MS patients are depressed, and since I was crying I was probably depressed.NOT!

My glass is ALWAYS half full.

New MS Oral Medication Aubagio
I Have Waited All My Life For You, Raul Midon

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Filed under MS and Depression, MS and Oral Medication, MS Drugs, Neurology

Ringing Rocks

Needless to say when I awoke from that dream I was depressed. Heck! You were depressed just reading about it. Don’t worry, we’ll have more fun with that in my post on MS and Depression.
What’s most urgent right now is that I’ve got to take matters into my own hands! I just woke up from that nightmare and I’m going to Ringing Rocks right now dammit and nobody is going to stop me! Not even…ME. I use to just jump up and go do things because I loved the outdoors and adventure. I’ve decided…I’M GOING TODAY! So what if I need a cane, so what if it might rain all day, so what if it’s a long way and I don’t know where I’m going, just don’t drink ANYTHING(or I might have to pee in the woods and there’s poison ivy) and use the GPS. And for God’s sake, take my camera! NOW LET’S GO!
Destination: Ringing Rocks Park, Ringing Rocks Road, Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972

Mission Accomplished: My goal was simply to GET there! To not let a few obstacles keep me from going out the door. Here’s the report, after a long treacherous mountainous drive (that did make it more fun) I could go no farther than the parking lot. Problems were, one hand held the camera, one hand held the cane, one hand was still needed to balance on rocks as I climbed across them (maybe two) and still another hand to hold camera steady for shooting photos.
For today…JOB WELL DONE! and in my best TERMINATOR voice “I’ll Be Back”.

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Filed under MS and Depression, MS and Exercise