Letters to me

For depression awareness week, I thought I would share with you a few of the letters I have written to myself over the past month as I began medication and therapy for depression. I revisit these letters most days to remind myself that the fight is worth fighting. #whatyoudontsee

Dear Me,
I heard you have depression. That sucks. It sucks that you’ve been fighting to keep your head above water for the last eleven years and this is what you end up with. It sucks to have to deal with yucky side effects of the medication when you don’t even know if it is working. But here you are. Take some time to grieve, that the person you thought was you is depression you, not the real you. And then when you’re done grieving, you can be excited about getting to know the real you. The real you has been hidden for over 10 years! And now you get to meet her! How exciting! Be patient and kind, as you would with a small child that’s just been given life-changing news. Give her time and space to heal and to grow and love her.

Dear Me,
You are having a terrible day today. Every effort feels enormous and you’re wishing you were dead. Not even dead so much as never been born, never set foot on the Earth. You feel like you want to evaporate and turn to dust. You need to know that you are loved and that you make a positive difference in the world. As awful as these feelings are, they are temporary, and they are not your fault. The medication is messing with your head and there is a good chance that tomorrow will be way better. Remember that the world is a better place for having you in it.

Dear Me,
Today you are down and feel that you should be able to beat all this on your own without medication and without therapy. But unfortunately that is not the case. You need help, and you need lots of it. But that’s okay. Really. You have a great husband and great kids and a great doctor and they are all behind you, supporting you and wanting you to get better. Try not to compare yourself to other people or to read anything or listen to anyone who is against medication. They are not you. You have been fighting this for over 10 years and the fact that you need help now is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you’re ready to fight and win.

10 things you might not know about chronic pain or illness

1. It’s not the same every day. Some days my pain is so low that I forget it exists for part of the day. I’m active and engaged with other people, looking to the future, and not revolving my life around rest and appointments. Other days I have no idea what a pain-free life would look like and I can’t get out of bed long enough to think about it.

2. It really does co-exist with depression. I’ve always hated the depression-chronic pain connection mentioned in every piece of literature about chronic pain, having felt that it somehow reduces the awfulness of the physical pain. But it’s impossible to lose the ability to do everything you enjoy without getting depressed. How do you get out of depression when you can’t go for a walk, can’t relate to others, and have no appetite for food you used to love? I don’t know. The physical pain has to go down for the brain to begin recovery.

3. Some doctors suck, and a few are awesome. I know there are some amazing doctors around but for the most part, they do a poor job of dealing with chronic nonsense. My family doctor ranges from ‘suck it up’ to ‘that sounds awful’ with little in the way of actual help. I have to pick what I complain about in order to get what I need, and that gets harder the longer it drags on.

4. When my life is busy with appointments, I can’t do any more small talk. Between physio, the lab, the x-ray, and doctors, I have no ability to small talk with a cashier or the other parents picking up their kids. It’s not like this all the time, but any time I have two or more appointments in a week, I’m unable to socialize. I hate that I can make people feel like I don’t want to talk to them when I really do.

5. Pain can make you selfish. Not on purpose of course, but when your brain is busy trying to make it up the stairs without falling, it’s impossible to think about making cookies for the kids or helping your spouse deal with difficulties at work.

6. Kids are awesome. My teens are a huge help by bringing in groceries, bringing me ice or water, or whatever I need when I’m too tired to get up. They will gladly help with chores in the morning so that I’ll have the energy to do something fun with them in the afternoon. They don’t pretend to know how to ‘fix’ me. It’s my job to make sure they become more and more independent so they can create a great life that doesn’t revolve around me.

7. “What would you give your pain out of 10?” makes me bat-shit crazy. Don’t ask me to rate my pain on a stupid scale and don’t pretend if it’s less today than last week that it’s because of you. I overheard another patient last week tear a strip off her physiotherapist when asked that question. We all hate it. Pain sucks, all the time. A smart doctor or physio can tell by how you react to movement how much pain you’re in.

8. TV is awesome. Chronic pain can suck your brains out as well as your body, leaving you unable to read, write, or do anything creative or meaningful. I’ve had periods of weeks at a time where showering is the most I can do in a day. TV saves me from going insane, especially if it’s watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Parks and Recreation with my kids. We have to laugh.

9. If there is a silver lining, it’s that I’ve learned that my time and energy are my most important commodities. Yes, I miss running. Yes, I miss my career. Yes, yes, yes. No, I don’t like having a nap almost every day. But if I spend time with you, know you must be very important to me.

10. It doesn’t get better with time. Being sick, in pain, having surgery, or being in the hospital get continuously harder to deal with. “I could never deal with that” or “I don’t know how you do it” is never helpful. I don’t have a choice but to deal with it, yet I’m grateful for every day I get to be on this fabulous planet of ours. Every day I know it could be worse and every day I’m glad that it isn’t.

These are my ten, I’d love to hear yours!

Zero to Hero: New blogs to like

I’m a day late on this challenge and I could pretend that I was busy but instead I was watching TV. While watching Hawaii Five-O today (recorded last night) I heard an amazing quote: “Hate corrodes the contained it is carried in”. It is paraphrased from Alka Goyal, “hate corrodes the vessel that carries it.” Either way, it is a good reminder that hate destroys the person doing the hating, not the one who is hated.

To meet yesterday’s challenge today, I typed random things into the ‘search’ box today on my Reader page and found some new blogs that I enjoyed reading:

The Super Hero Principle on How Do You Define an Enigma

Step Up to the Pants on WOD OFF (having worked retail, I found this one amusing)

The Matrix Review on That One Reviewer (gotta love a new review of an old movie)

Relationships with Writers on The Happy Holly Project (a must read!)

Cookbook Review: Essential Pepin on Bloomfield Road (one of my favourite cookbooks)

I am looking forward to finding blogs that others found in completing this challenge!