Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A New Look at a New Year

Bleeding Heart

With the onset of 2012 I've decided to take up blogging.  Maybe someone will stop by and leave a comment, maybe no one will show up.  That's ok either way!  I am here and that's all that matters.  My goal with the creation of my blog is to not only help myself but also to help others.

In the late '90s I was diagnosed with clinical depression and have since been on medication.  It has been a difficult journey since then but I have survived.  I met with several counsellors over the years and, for a brief period of time, I was required to take part in an annual visit to see a psychiatrist.  With careful monitoring of my medication in conjunction with therapy, workshops and my own research I learned to adapt to life with a mental illness.  I was having my good days and my bad days but the close of 2011 brought with it a few turbulent months for me.

Beginning in October my behaviour changed erratically.  Into November and early December a few of my friends commented on this ongoing erratic behaviour.  I decided to look into it.  And within myself.  It turns out that that the problem began earlier than October, probably July or thereabouts.  Of course, hindsight is 20/20.

In July 2011 I didn't know things had changed for me.  Until November 2011 things seemed status quo with me.  I was being a responsible adult, holding down a job, volunteering, looking after my pets and my house and myself.  I was also being social, going out, drinking, having "fun", spending time with people.  What's wrong with all of this you ask?  Nothing, really.  It was the quantity and frequency of these activities that seemed to arise suspicion in those around me.  I was spending less time being a responsible adult and more time being social.  The balance was off.  I had stumbled but thankfully I have friends that care about me and caught me before I fell too far.

While I was in high school I cut myself, I cried way too much, I hurt myself physically instead of hurting others emotionally (to me, speaking my mind was considered to be hurting others).  I balled up my pain and let it fester inside of me until I sliced myself open and it seeped out in the form of bright red blood.  I have scars on the outside that are only minor compared to the scars that I have on the inside.  When I realized these things weren't "normal" I started doing my own research.  Reading voraciously anything I could get my hands on about depression, bipolar, mental illnesses in general.  My initial thought was bipolar but after meeting with counselors and doctors and the psychiatrist that came to town once a month to see patients, I was told it was just situational depression, here take some medication, up your dose in a few weeks and eventually, when you find your niche in life you can come off it and be fine.  Coming from a small town, mental health resources were limited and I took the trusted psychiatrists word for it.  Self-monitoring my medication didn't pan out, so I stopped it altogether and went on my seemingly merry way, still troubled and still hurting inside but not knowing why.

University and college came and went and I still hadn't found my niche, apparently.  I sought help again through the college health centre.  Another round of doctors, counsellors, medication attempts and psychiatrists.  This time I was told I may be on meds for the rest of my life, despite attempts by the doctor to prove to herself and me otherwise, without my knowledge!  She was sneaky (while still being ethical) and she was good.  I appreciated her not jumping to the conclusion that I would be like "this" forever.  But it was an inevitable conclusion.

Since then I have been in and out of the mental health system making use of any and all resources I can find.  Open my file, close my file, open my file, close my file.  Sign up for workshops, sign up for group sessions, sign up for this, attend that, read this, write that.  I have the tools and resources that I need to manage my depression.  But suddenly and for an extended period of time these tools have not been working.  I'm down but I'm not out.  My meds aren't working as well as they used to.  The suicidal thoughts are back and rampant at times. Anger, frustration, procrastination, desperation, sadness, hopelessness and isolation are only a few of the emotions that I feel on a regular basis these days. So again I have turned to my own research.  My research combined with insightful, honest, sometimes heartbreaking conversations with my close friends has led me to wonder if I'm bipolar. I have come full circle in my search for a solution to my problem, in my search for a problem to my solution.

Now I wait.  The referral has been done:  I wait for them to contact me for my next steps.  My family doctor has retired:  I wait for the nurse practitioner clinic to respond to my application.  Until then I read, I write, I go to work, I look after my pets and my house and I do my best to look after myself amidst all of this.  I get lost sometimes in all this waiting and trying to move on at the same time.  But my friends find me.  My friends keep me together when I feel I'm falling apart.

Regardless of the diagnosis, this new year brings about a new shift in me.  I am important.  I matter.  I deserve to be happy.  I am me and I am good at being me.  This must remain in the forefront of my thoughts if I am to survive this part of my journey.  I hope that you will continue to take this journey with me.

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