Serious Depressive Episode

“Co-pilot concealed mental illness.”

“Co-pilot suffered a ‘serious depressive episode.'”

When will the stigma end?

When will people suffering from depression feel they can seek treatment without secrecy?

When will treatment for mental illness become as readily available as treatment for physical illness?

That’s all for now, but this bothers me. It bothers me on so many levels. Readers, expect to hear more.

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The Broad Side

Readers, I feel like I’ve made it big. My article about depression is live on The Broad Side.

This piece is groundbreaking for me. I published under my own name, not my Daisy moniker. I took a few posts from my major depression of 2011 and pulled them together to form a coherent whole. I had posts from the beginning, the middle, and the end (my recovery), so I found a representative piece from each time period.

This took courage, my friends. If I’m really going to make headway in breaking the stigma attached to mental illness, I needed to use my own name in discussing my depression.

Please take a deep breath and click over the The Broad Side. When you’re finished with my piece, feel free to stay a while and peruse other articles. If you enjoy reading me, you’ll find a lot to like on The Broad Side.

Here it is. Read it slowly and thoughtfully, please. Remember, it took courage.

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So on we go – grief or no grief

The flurry of posts and memorials for Robin William’s death has subsided a little. Life goes on and on.

Meanwhile, I keep going to the Farmers’ Markets. The act of going & the act of buying followed by the process of preparing and freezing or canning or cooking… Let’s start over before I create a huge run on sentence.

 

Wednesday's Market

Wednesday’s Market

The act of going to the market is therapeutic. I get to talk to people, ask questions, and interact positively.

The midweek market is a place filled with happy people! If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see two bunches of carrots. A vendor gave me the second bunch for free because I bought peas and beans from him. He was just being generous and nice – he didn’t know I had a pet rabbit at home waiting for fresh food like this.

No Parsley or Sage

No Parsley or Sage

Rosemary, Thyme, and Lemon Basil hang in the attic. They’ll hang from those hooks for at least two weeks until they’re dry or pretty darn close to it. Like gardening, hanging herbs for drying demonstrates a belief in the future. They won’t dry overnight.

Like gardening, drying my own herbs is a process, not a product. So on we go, growing  and harvesting and gathering what we’ll need for the future. The future looks good.

 

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Gone too soon – RIP, Robin Williams

Tributes to the great Robin Williams are all over the Interwebs and all over the world. Erika Diamond reprinted a post I contributed a few years ago. Anything I add will echo something said by others – and perhaps that’s one of the reasons so many are speaking up.

From a college friend – Celebrity deaths don’t generally make me cry. I just sobbed over the loss of Robin Williams.

From a teacher and techie friend – I have to turn off Facebook and all social media tonight. This repeating story of Robin Williams being so alone and desolate is absolutely killing me.

In one of my favorite rolls, Mrs. Doubtfire

In one of my favorite rolls, Mrs. Doubtfire

Iphigenia Doubtfire. How much of this was scripted and how much improvised? We may never know. Robin Williams in character within a character – both characters lovable and delightful people.

Robin Williams madness

 

That spark of “madness” – creativity, excitement, humor, brilliance. When I think of Robin Williams and his collective works – I haven’t even seen them all! – I keep coming back to brilliance. 

But within that brilliant man was a tortured soul. Depression, an illness made worse by addiction. Yes, I said illness. Depression is an illness that causes great pain. When people experience clinical depression, they are not sad or weak or wimpy. They truly cannot function because of their pain. Recovery can be slow, and it can require medications and therapy and more.

Robin’s legacy includes the manner of his death, but I hope his life is what we remember most. He was a very unique, strong and talented man; a diagnosis of mental illness doesn’t change that.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. May you finally find the peace you were seeking. You made the world a better place.

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Dear world; again? So soon?

Dear clinic that shall not be named —

I’m sure she meant it in the best possible way. I won’t assume anything, but I’ll guess that the RN in charge of messaging didn’t mean to use a commonly known text-message and IM abbreviation. She must have been unaware that there could be another interpretation. So, dear clinic, you still might want to train your personnel to be more careful with their shortcuts, lest they tell an already frustrated patient to do this.

“Please call our office to schedule this f/u appt.”

Okay, Readers, here’s the rest of the story. As I make arrangements for multiple appointments, including another MRI for my neck and the start of a potentially lengthy series of Physical Therapy, I’m doing my absolute best to schedule at the beginning or end of a school day so I can get away with using less sick time. I used up years of accrued sick days in order to take a significant leave of absence in 2011. I started earning sick leave from scratch last year, so there’s not much in my sick bay at the moment. Dealing with cataract surgery and attempts to see a psychiatric nurse practitioner who only worked from 8 to 3 weekdays, I withdrew plenty from that account. And that reminds me —

Dear clinic that shall not be named —

Forcing someone with a severe depression to wait seven months for psychiatric care is a bad idea. Assigning a teacher (a field known for less-than-flexible schedules) to a psychiatric nurse practitioner who doesn’t see patients after 3:00 p.m., well, is yet another poorly considered idea. So think about it, clinic, oh you-who-claim-2B-efficient. A seven month wait? A medical professional with office hours that force the patient to take time off from work every single time? Efficient? Not for the patient.

Readers, I gave up on the psychiatric care. My family physician has done well treating my depression, as well as or better than the one-who-was-not-worth-the wait. I know from past experience that I need to put myself first. In the real world of employment, however, I need to balance my doctor time with my work time. I love my work and my job, too. I’d like to stay employed there. My supervisors would like me to remain employed there, too.

I guess it would be more efficient on my end to remember that laughter is the best medicine. The next time an RN writes “f/u” in a message, I’ll just respond by ROTFLMAO. Right? Right.

 

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Dear Pharmacy; your carbon footprint stinks.

Dear Pharmacy that shall not be Named;

If just 25% of U.S. families used 10 fewer plastic bags a month, we would save over 2.5 billion bags a year.* So tell me; why do you have such a problem with my bringing my own bag? Last time I had to tell the clerk twice, loudly and clearly, before she looked at me with a confused expression and then set the plastic bag down. I guess I’ll take the confused expression over the eye roll I’ve gotten several other times.
Well, dear Pharmacy, let’s look at another wasteful habit. Every single time a clerk hands out a (stupid little plastic) bag, it contains advertising. Flu shots, diabetes supplies, the smart phone app for refills – I don’t need these. Really. And when I hand back the paper with a “Thanks, but I’ve already had my flu shot,” the paper doesn’t go to another customer; it goes in the recycling. What the heck? Your carbon footprint approaches Paul Bunyan’s print in size.
Pharmacy, dear, oh Ye Who Shall Not be Named, I just moved the bulk of my maintenance medications to another provider. I no longer plan to make multiple trips per month, tolerate the attitude, or accept the outrageous amount of waste generated.

Got it? Oh. I didn’t think so. Never mind.

Sincerely,

Daisy

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>How to Adjust to a New Sleep Medication

>Disclaimer: Adjustment Daisy style does not replace or even supplement real medical advice. This adjustment addresses the woozy feeling in the morning, sometimes called the Hangover Effect.

  • Have coffee with a friend. The coffee will infuse caffeine; the conversation will be enlightening.
  • Snuggle a blanket. This acknowledges the desire to sleep again while not giving in completely to the call of the pillows.
  • Put pots and trays of seedlings outside. Between the sun and the cool temperatures, nature helps wake up the soul.
  • Blog. But be careful; proofread later when feeling less loopy.
  • Feed and pet a rabbit. This is a valid strategy for almost any condition. Rabbits are magical.
  • Watch the weather channel or CNN, depending on the mood.
  • Avoid game shows on TV. The over-animated applause and the bells & whistles are annoying and all too often generate headaches.
  • Contemplate changing timing of taking medication at night to allow for successful awakening in the morning.
Readers, can you add to the list?

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>Insomnia

>Two bad nights in a row. That’s unusual. Most of the time one bad night will leave me tired enough to sleep the second. Not this time.

So far:
  • no naps
  • keeping busy outside (re-potted tomato seedlings)
  • half-caff coffee, none after noon
  • keeping busy inside (laundry, a necessary evil)
  • keeping mind busy – this is the toughest element in the list.
My brain has been linking memories and concerns with connections that just don’t make sense. Round and round, circular motion, or is it a spiral? If it’s a spiral, I wish it would spiral out of my mind and let me sleep.
Social networking is coming in handy. Online friends have recommended:
  • melatonin, in small doses
  • meditation
  • notebook next to the bed for writing concerns, even poems
  • Music: when I’m obsessing over regrets from the past, remember “Let it be.”
  • Music: “Morning has Broken” to ease me out of bed whether I’ve slept or not
One major decision: Do I call the doctor? And if so, the family doctor or the psychiatric NP with the several-month long waiting list? I’m not eager to start Ambien or any other sleep aid. I fear the addiction that I developed last time Ambien was part of my routine.
Well, dear readers, I’ll take any advice you have for me. If I could just shut off the part of my brain that keeps replaying regrets and mistakes and — that’s it, just and.

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>Dear Clinic; Efficient? Nope.

>

Actual (almost) exchange by way of the messaging system at our local Clinic That Shall Not Be Named
Dear Family Doc’s Office;
You will receive (or may have already received) a request from (insert insurance company’s mail-order pharmacy here) to transfer four prescriptions to them from the local Pharmacy Who Shall Not be Named. Please keep Pharmacy on my list for short term medication needs.
Sincerely,
Daisy
Dear Daisy;
Refills of your medications have been sent to (insert new pharmacy here) this morning. You are due for a medication/asthma check appointment in April. If you mention the “wait list” the scheduler will know what to do.
Sincerely,
LPN a.k.a. Refill Associate
Wait list? In my vocabulary, those are four letter words. Oh, wait, they ARE four letter words. But anyway, the saga continued —

Confused, because I usually take care of this kind of med check in the summer along with my annual check-up, I made the appointment anyway. After enduring a cold silence when I mentioned that my lack of flexibility was due to my job as a teacher, we managed to find an appointment during my Spring Break. I was to fast overnight, get blood work done, and then talk with the doctor. I wasn’t convinced, though. This was out of the ordinary.

Dear Messaging System at the Clinic That Shall Not be Named;
For the past several years I’ve combined my med checks with a physical in July or August. The message that I need a fasting medication check in April caught me by surprise.
Is the appointment really necessary?
Why the change in routine?

Oh, well, why bother asking,
Daisy

Hi Daisy — all the Docs agreed on medication protocols/visits for certain chronic illnesses, which is usually every 6 months — each MD does have exceptions to the rule though.
I will route this by Family Doc for you, and we’ll be back in touch with his response.

Thanks.
RN in Family Doc’s Offices

Ooh – I actually got an answer from an RN this time. Maybe MD is next. Have I jumped through enough hoops yet to get to the top?

Hi, Daisy – Family Doc had the following comment:
Daisy can be seen for her annual visit in July or August and meds checked then.

Sincerely, RN in Family Doc’s Offices

All of this leaves me wondering once again: is this supposed to be efficient?

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Writing is therapeutic. Email? Maybe.

Blogging is therapeutic. Email can be therapeutic as well – sometimes. Within reason. Occasionally. With very little editing, just enough to protect the innocent and not-so-much, here’s an example, courtesy of Chuck’s challenging day at work.

Me: Northern Wisconsin has 16 inches of snow. Madison and Milwaukee have sunshine.

Chuck: I’m being snowed under sorting out the incompetence from the non-functional.

Me: There must be a Dilbert-style quote or post in there somewhere.

Chuck: Department motto – Our perfection has to overcome their incompetence.

Me: I still like “Engineering: We put the fun in dysfunctional.”

Chuck: Now we’re applying soothing unction to the dysfunction.
Then we both got busy and went back to work.
On another topic: blogging has been therapeutic, too. A coworker asked how I keep up with everything. She was referring to the fact that I helped out in high school English for a few days, submitted a blog post and wrote a new profile for our national office’s PR department, while still somehow managing to do my own job and do it well, too. I stopped in my tracks. This is such a huge dramatic change. It’s a change back to normal, whatever that is.
One year ago, I was blogging my way through the worst depression of my life. This illness had me knocked out, incapable of working, and barely functioning. Thanks to many professionals and family and friends, I’m now back in the land of the working and the happy and the energetic. Wow, I thought, maybe this is what healthy feels like.
Then a dangerous thought crossed my mind. Would a collection of my posts be of interest to other people suffering the same way I did? Knowing I wasn’t alone was such a comforting feeling. Battling the depression demon was long and difficult, but possible. The long and winding road (uphill both ways, of course) can lead to health and success.
Well, readers, with a little revision to protect myself and others, could the Compostermom Chronicles become a journal of healing? Share your thoughts, readers, and I’ll start giving it some thought myself.

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