Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day One - Introduction

  Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.*

I wanted to give myself an obtainable goal for the 26th year of my life, so I'm going to attempt to write something every single day for the next 365 days. I know at some point I'm going to get sick of having to write all the time, but I am really hoping that it will be therapeutic for me to put all of my feelings down in writing. I'm trying to get more adept at being able to identify the feelings I'm having, and the things that trigger these feelings from a more objective standpoint. The other reason I'm writing is to increase awareness about mental health, and namely, depression. I'd also like to learn more about blogging, because there are several blogs that I love to read, and I know that there's money in it if you do it right! I've also been told that I'm a good writer, and I'd like to hone my writing skills and perhaps mildly entertain the world with the goings-on of my life (which is not exciting).

Depression is a terribly misunderstood illness. Anyone who has never suffered through a depressive episode lasting a year or longer cannot possibly even hope to identify with someone who suffers from major clinical depression. People with depression can't just "get over it" or "buck up" or "forget about it." Depression is an illness, just like diabetes is, only instead of the body not being able to make insulin, the body is unable to balance neurotransmitters in the brain to enable normal functioning.

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 17 years old, after I found myself being unable to shake off the feeling of worthlessness that I was having. I've struggled very hard with it since then, suffering relapse after relapse after relapse. When I'm feeling good, I think that I must be feeling what people without depression feel like all the time. But when I can feel a relapse coming on - and believe me, I can feel one coming weeks beforehand - it's as though my ability to function normally dissipates.

I'm a little scared, because using this blog as a diary will be like allowing the entire world to be privy to my deepest thoughts and fears, as well as allowing the world to see my life as I see it, friends, acquaintances and all.

So with that said, here's what's on my mind right now. Tomorrow is my 26th birthday. I'm not doing anything fancy or fantastic, just going to work for a few hours, come home, probably take a nap, and then go to dinner with my mom and sister. I got myself the iPhone 4 as a little present for myself (and also I had to replace my iPhone 3GS because it fell off the table out on the deck and shattered the screen, which I attempted to replace but was sent the wrong model of screen even though I did everything else right), so I've been fiddling around with that since Saturday.

I struggled with the possibility of going on my 2-mile run today with Phoenix, because I feel guilty when he doesn't get to go out on walks and stuff, but I woke up very tired this morning and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep after work, so that's what I did. I still feel guilty for not taking Phoenix running, although I did let him run around the greenbelt after dinner for awhile. I know I didn't run all his energy out, though. Maybe tomorrow.

I have a therapist and I'm working on getting a psychiatrist so that I can get on the right combination of meds to help me combat this horrible thing I've got. I've been on 150 of Effexor for the last two years or so, and it's been really great. Many of the other anti-depressants out there come with crappy side-effects, and so far Effexor is the only one I've been put on that hasn't come with at least one side-effect. What I really like is that it has no sexual side-effects. I'll get more into that later. But I've gone on and off Lithium for the past couple of years as well, and it usually gives me that extra kick that I sometimes need to crawl out of the whole I feel as though I've fallen into. My therapist has suggested that it's possible that my body has become tolerant of the Effexor (which is not uncommon) and that I need to probably try something new. It's something to discuss with my future psychiatrist.

Oh, and for those of you that don't know the difference: a therapist or psychologist is the person one sees for therapy, and a psychiatrist is the person one sees to obtain medication for a mental illness. Psychiatrists and psychologists often work in conjunction with one another to maintain patients both from a medical and mental standpoint. The two together have been the most successful treatment for people suffering from mood disorders (which depression is).

I have also previously been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a lot more complicated, and I'll explain it more in depth at another time. Knowing and understanding my illnesses has been positively the best way for me to try to heal, and I'd suggest to anyone who suffers from any kind of illness to research it in order to learn the different distinctions of the illness, and what effect it has on them personally, because while many illnesses present with "classic" symptoms, everyone is different and will present differently.
At the beginning of every post I'll be including a fact about Mental Health or Mental Illness (see above!).  
So I guess that's my first post!  More tomorrow!

*National Institute of Mental Health: The Numbers Count: Mental Health Disorders in America. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml#MajorDepressive>.
     1. Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE. Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):617-27.
     2. U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates by Demographic Characteristics. Table 2: Annual Estimates of the Population by Selected Age Groups and Sex for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2004 (NC-EST2004-02) Source: Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau Release Date: June 9, 2005. http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/

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