Thank you. Sometimes I need a reminder like this….
Love untitled @_@
Thank you. Sometimes I need a reminder like this….
Love untitled @_@
Poet Nayyirah Waheed
I’ve always wanted to get into poetry, and just for that I have found it to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever undertaken. I’ve read a variety of poets but somehow I never felt a connection.
You know that feeling of sudden awareness when a word or phrase reflects perfectly your immediate state of being? And your eyes widen and your heart contracts almost painfully with the knowledge that someone out there gets you? That connection. I’ve had it with many authors but, scarcely, with poets. Until now.
Nayyirah Waheed gets me. Or I get her. Or it’s a mutual ‘I-get-you’, I don’t know. But when I first read this verse, my heart skipped a beat in recognition. I felt relief. I am not a freak, I am not crazy, I am not scary. I’m just sick-and that is ok.
I write a lot about Depression and Mental Illness and i worry sometimes that I am dragging my readers down. My blog is about expressing things I love, and I try to keep it upbeat and fun and positive and whimsical; but I also want to keep it authentic and true, and for me Mental Illness is real. I suffer from Chronic Depression and Esteem issues which have directed me to make bad choices for myself and have created the rut i find myself stuck in now. And so I write about it, with the hopes that people will find comfort, relief and inspiration to avoid my mistakes and be comfortable seeking help for themselves.
Sometimes I browse online for information and I only find the how-to’s and success stories of Depression, rarely the struggle-in-the-trenches ones, which makes me feel even more distant from achieving that success myself. So I figured If I share my own stories-the really dark, deep, painful, tearful, debilitating emotions I feel with each episode, maybe another patient out there will relate and feel less alone, less afraid and just…relieved. Relieved that someone else out there understands. Relieved that he/she doesn’t have to suffer alone in silence And relieved that one can talk about it openly and seek help.
I made my first appointment with a psychiatrist for August and I am nervous. How much should I reveal? What will she say? What if I just cry through the whole thing? What if I have to take medication? Nervous much? Yeah, I’m nervous. But I’m tired of trying to handle this alone. I need help. I am very relieved to just say that-I need help.
And as Nayyirah Waheed says, “It is okay to hold your hearts outside of your body…”. That’s how you Heal.
And so, I’m going to continue with that first step, my heart on my sleeve, and start to heal too.
I was on Facebook today and I came across this blog post by the Humans of New York website which I really wanted to share. While Depression and Mental Illness are slowly coming out into the sphere of public discussion as genuine medical conditions, I feel that sometimes it is very difficult for patients to put into words the exact feelings of Depression in that very dark moment; And as a result, it’s harder for sick people to talk about it, and even harder for healthy people to understand and take seriously.
Before I even knew I was depressed, I was labelled everything from being “too sensitive” to “lazy” to “procrastinating” to “always having a problem”, “PMS-ing” or “arrogant and self-absorbed”. While there have been moments in my life where I have been all of those things, they do not define Depression. Even today, I find it hard to talk to family and friends about it mainly because I don’t know how to describe it without it sounding superficial or whiny or tempermental.
So when I saw this blog post, I instantly felt connected to this woman. She knows what I mean to say, she has constructed in words exactly what I feel on those bad days. And she shared her story with Humans of New York in a very real, beautiful, matter-of-fact way. I’m truly grateful for this post and I hope Humans of New York will continue to post more stories like this. Afterall, it’s given me a way to explain my own symptoms during my darkest moments and, to be honest, to be able to do that and help others understand this disease, well that’s half the battle won already.
HUMANS OF NEW YORK BLOG POST
“When I was depressed, it felt like I was walking through mud all the time. My head was filled with thoughts like, ‘If my friends knew who I really was, they wouldn’t love me.’ And, ‘What right do I have to exist?’ And, eventually, ‘Why do any of us have the right to exist?’ If people were being kind to me, I wasn’t able to access that kindness. It wouldn’t produce a feeling in me. If a child smiled at me from a stroller, it might lift me up for a millisecond, but then I’d fall back into darkness. Before I was depressed, I could find joy in things so easily. I worked as a gardener, and I learned the calls of the birds so I could tell where they were just by listening. I loved to show new plants and insects to children, and see how excited they’d get. I made a 50th birthday card for my sister, and got strangers from all over the world to write ‘Happy Birthday’ in their language. But during my depression, I couldn’t access any of that joy. I’d try reminding myself that other people had bigger problems. I’d try telling myself to quit being weak, and to snap out of it. But nothing worked.”
“I’m trying to come back to work after a period of depression. I’ve battled it off-and-on my whole life, but two years ago the wheels just completely came off. I’d just had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with my friends, and I went to sleep in a good mood, but then the next day I couldn’t get out of bed. I was still in bed four days later when my boss started calling. The next two years were a battle. I lost my job. I was hospitalized three times. I filled a giant binder with information about depression, where to find programs, and how to appeal your insurance company. I felt like I was fighting for my life. I’d call a hospital that specialized in a certain type of therapy, and they’d tell me they didn’t take my insurance. I’d say: ‘Please help me. I’m dying.”
One of the series I’ve been really into lately is the Irish Country Novel series by Patrick Taylor. If anyone is bowled over by a picturesque small-town in Northern Ireland, a handful of colourful characters entangled in endearingly quirky scenarios and a lovable, charming, bear of a hero by the name of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly at the centre of all the mayhem, then these books are for you.
Taylor, a retired MD living in British Columbia, Canada, reflects his own experiences of studying and practicing Medicine through the protagonist, country G.P Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, against the back drop of a changing Ireland from the 1930’s to the 1970s. I love this series for several reasons.
Firstly, as an M.D myself who is enthusiastically trying to pursue a career in Family Medicine, these books sum up all that I love about this specialty. The ability to get to know your patients as people and taking an interest not just in their healthcare, but in their families, interest, jobs, hobbies and their lives. Taylor captures the genuine care and concern Family Physicians have for patients and beautifully illustrates how that care extends to all facets of a patient’s life and makes a positive difference in life.
Secondly, I am a huge fan of the small-town setting (Yes, I am a Gilmore Girls, Murder She Wrote and Doc Martin fan!). I love the familiarity, the closeness and the neighbourly kindness that small towns exude and, again, Taylor invites you into the homes and lives of the residents of Ballybucklebo with a sense of warmth, heart, sometimes a little solemnity and loads of mischief that you a page-a-night turns into a-chapter-a-night kind of reading. My cup of tea.
And lastly, apart from the daily on-goings of the village that Dr. O’Reilly deals with, Taylor manages to weave some of Ireland’s most significant historical and sociopolitical history into O’Reilly’s own personal story, making the rich history of Ireland come to life before your eyes. While reading An Irish Doctor At Peace and War, I got a very vivid description of what it felt like to be apart of the Irish contribution to the Allied Forces in World War II. The first-hand accounts make the war understandable, relatable and very very human.
Overall, I love the Irish Country Novel series, and I am just so inspired by the author Patrick Taylor, who embodies both my dream jobs as physician and author, and creates such an entertaining and mesmerizing series.
I whole-heartedly recommend these books to everyone 🙂
Depression Hurts. I see it everyday, not only with patients at the clinic I work at, but in my own life too. I have always found it hard to describe Depression, not only because the stigma associated with it makes it difficult to discuss, but because it is very hard to describe Depression when it so often written off as being Sad. That is why when I saw this quote from the author J.K. Rowling I had to post it. Her words sum up my feelings on Depression completely.
When I was growing up, and even up until 5 years ago, Depression was a taboo topic. People didn’t want to talk about Depression, either because they associated Depression with being “crazy” or they didn’t see it as a legitimate medical illness. I had a friend once who said he didn’t believe in mental illness, that it was just a trick of the mind. A classmate of mine actually laughed through a suicide scene in a movie we watched–she thought it was hilarious that the main character was climbing up and down the side of a bridge, debating whether he should live or succumb to his depression and end his life. And they have the nerve to call people with mental illness crazy? Plleeaaassseee.
Mental Illness is exactly what it spells out-an illness. My supervisor at the clinic summed it up perfectly. “If we can treat Diabetes and Heart Disease with therapy, then how is Depression any different?”. After hearing that, it was like my heart and mind just gave one big sigh of relief. Yes, it is ok to have depression. It is an illness. And just like any other illness, it can be treated and it can be cured.
I am glad that today so much more attention is being brought to depression and other forms of mental illness. The Canadian website http://www.DepressionHurts.ca is a great resource site for people who think they may have Depression. Not only does it help you understand the signs and symptoms, but it encourages you to be more compassionate with yourself and speak to your Family Physician about your concerns. It has really helped me get through my own depression and stay on the road to recovery.
So if there’s one thing you can take away from this post, please let it be this-Depression is OK. Do not be ashamed. Do not hide it from your friends or your family. Talk to your physician about it. In this illness, you are never alone and you can get better. Both J.K.Rowling and I are living proof 😉
I’ll leave you with the last bit of the quote I posted above, of which I have often turned to during the darkest moments of my own illness.
On the days when I felt I had no where or no one to turn to, this quote gave me strength and compassion and peace to open up to myself and to my loved ones, and then go get the professional help that I deserved. I hope it helps you too.