Depression Wiki
Advertisement

Bikenotmed's story

In short form, as long form requires paying $100+ / hour ;-)

I'll qualify my "knowledge" and experience of depression by sharing for a moment.

Over 15 years ago, my life was changing in ways I hadn't expected. While working near full time trying to acquire material wealth, going to school with a clinical [practicum] experience and not really enjoying much of anything, after a series of personal losses and [grief], I seemed to have become a patient instead of a Doctor ;-) as I had once thought I might want to be and worked around medical professionals and briefly in a lab at a medical school among other places...

Anyway, I got actively suicidal and homocidal (with a specific target). My job disappeared when I didn't show up for a while for safety reasons and can't get out of beditis. With the loss of income, the apartment I had lived in went away with an eviction. When out of 301k (401k - dotbomb :-) ) retirement money, that was going to be my end. I got physically ill when ready to commit, but was lucky enough to decide against it and embark on this little adventure called life. Eventually, a work friend offered a place to stay while going out of town on vacation, but when things didn't get better quick enough that "couch surfing" got old with my host, and I consciously moved into a homeless shelter (think of boot camp with 50 of your closest "friends"/strangers, some bugs in showers, people talking late into the night when needing 12 hours downtime with depression but 5-6 hours **at best** possible). All this was while getting some traditional day treatment which monitored me and gave me activities, 'treatment' and social supports to deal with things like how to go into a shelter when enough was enough tm, or some might call it being sick and tired of being sick and tired' tm.

Luckily, I had previously started going to 12 step programs and the fellowship in the form of a kind and brave sponsor-like person noticed my apparent plan and another suggested a form of treatment that at the time didn't seem to apply to me. All I thought I needed while working was a vacation, which might have helped, but probably was not enough with all the preceeding losses, other issues and influences surrounding me. Some say that being fired is the best thing that ever happened to them. I think work took care of itself, and in a "what goes around comes around" sense that multinational corporation is also now tabloid material based on it's unethical business practices and other factors... But not turning that resentment over doesn't do me any good.

The sponsor nudge led to about a year long intensive community based treatment, reconnecting with family [in multifamily group] and community supports, disability, housing, setting goals of getting a place to live, furthering my degree to completion and many other interesting experiences (that make for a great story! ;-) but maybe not as good as Electroboy).

Some people would believe that giving people the tools they need to change their lives is enough. When severely depressed, I probably would have just said, 'yeah, nice tool, I'm too tired to use it' or similar, if I said anything at all. But I also did the footwork. Some days it was a goal of taking a shower. Or walking to the grocery store. Or looking at debt or selling inherited furniture to save the rest in storage lockers. Perhaps, getting up and going to day treatment, even when I really didn't want to, and didn't think it would help or making a phone call if I couldn't... Writing and journalling how I was feeling, even when it was 'feel like shit' and/or 'didn't sleep but 2 hours, worrying about ___' was one of the tools that helped me and is said to be correlated with success. I also recall making some friends (some with cars ;-), reading pendulum email lists on bipolar online, trying to figure out how to survive on $80 / month relief + food stamps, etc)...

One of the tools in my toolbox to maintain is advocacy, helping others by telling some of my experience and story so that the stigma is reduced for others to get help, give help and sharing what has worked for me and what has not (i.e. what helps and what hinders).

Another tool is exercise, (aka BikeNotMed) which gets me out of my seclusion/isolation and the normal restraints of physical space while being environmentally friendly and low cost as well (though I admittedly haven't calculated $/mile...). I used to bike as a kid and it got me out of my family space. It would be an adventure to go do something different, plus the exercise helped too. When I started back exercising, I had gained 50 pounds taking medications that I don't think were helping me at all, just making me sick, fat and possibly leading to high triglycerides. At first, it hurt to even sit on the bike seat. I started walking to a local food recovery meeting, as my car sat in disrepair in the parking lot. Eventually, and gradually, I worked up to walking regularly a few miles. I "kept coming back" and people talked to me about how they had changed their food and lives with recovery. I got and kept on getting on the bike and now that same seat doesn't even hurt unless for biking all day long for 40-50 miles/ day on 200 mile tours. And losing the weight and making life style changes helped me feel better about myself as well. It's not about the weight for me, but the accomplishment of changing something and having it work out well. It was a gradual thing, not a quick fix. I used to be mildly athletic in high school, and had lost that part of me along the way. It was making me more and more depressed the further I got from my core beliefs, though listening to suggestions and nudges of others who had been there meant more to me than someone with a degree or title.

Associating with other advocates has made it possible for me to learn about local, state and federal politics first hand and possibly protected from some of the reprisals while speaking out about systemic and individual injustices as well as providing meaningful activity while giving back to a system that helped some, but could be tweaked to do more...

Some diagnostic labels applied to me include Dysthymia and Major Depression. Self judging from the medications (reversing what they are likely treating from a meds like Lithium common use) Bipolar may be considered as well, as it is also in the family.

It is also common for Bipolar to be diagnosed later, as many people do not see the need to see a doctor when feeling "better than well" but only look for treatment during the painful down times, not thinking that the wreckage of mania is as bad...

[Grief] was not really considered or talked about as a possible cause or complication in my treatment. Intellectually, I know that complicated grief and depression are two different things, but in practice, how does that apply to my life?

Another popular tool, I am happily (and defiantly ;-) ) to say I didn't take any medications besides a conservative multivitamin, but YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary :-) ), so that may not be for everyone... This is not a popular view and someone else "going off meds" as they say would be a warning sign, but has worked out well for me by doing it gradually and tapering off medically supervised and consciously, intentionally maintaining and increasing my activity level when withdrawing from meds, keeping family and friends aware of my status, journalling changes and looking for appropriate [holistic] care.

So far the [holistic] care, (prompted by something that looked like poison ivy, thought was also a bee sting, but turned out to be [shingles]) has added [B12 or Cyanocobalamin] and Calcium vitamins to my morning routine and trying Ignatia.

On the technical side, the [Open Source] movement/ religion also gives me [hope], ironically as M$ business practices took most of the fun out of my previous career, so a [Wiki] is a nice portal for this writing. Thanks again for creating the Depression.wikia.com!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it :-) Though I might have a different perspective on it (and edit it) over time...

I'm sure you've got a good story and I would like to hear it!

Advertisement