I am sure after my last post, you are expecting some light reading. However, one my idiosyncrasies is my fascination with health stories; particularly about mental health. My idea of a fabulous evening is a TLC marathon of Untold Stories of the E.R. There is also a new TLC show called Diagnose Me, which is equally as awesome.
I recently submitted an article to Good Housekeeping for their Blessings column. Their web site warned it could take 3 months to receive your rejection letter. Yes, I am fully expecting one! But, now that I have my blog with 2 whole subscribers I don’t need Good Housekeeping do I? A special thanks to Sheri and Molly for being my earliest fans.
By the way, can you help me reach my goal of 5 subscribers? It’s easy to do. I’ve installed a blue “follow northville mom” icon on the menu bar. Scroll down to the bottom of my page and you will see it on the right hand side.
And now I bring you a LKK exclusive: How Depression Made me a Better Person
In High School, I watched my friend, Beth, struggle with Bi-Polar Depression. I didn’t understand what those words meant. All I knew was my mom was hesitant about me spending time with Beth and that she was sent “away” more often than she was home. My problems centered on keeping myself 110 pounds and finding a boyfriend. Beth’s problems related to her wanting to kill herself. Suddenly, we were worlds apart.
In college, I relished assignments that allowed me to better understand Beth. However, I felt distant from the experiences I read about. I convinced myself I was stronger and better able to accept life’s tribulations. While I felt empathy, it was impossible for me to feel what Beth felt. Perhaps this is why I lost touch with Beth. I continued to view her as someone who failed herself, as much as I viewed her as having an illness.
Shortly after graduation, I lost a parent unexpectedly. Despite my grief, I was able to move on. I had my first taste of anxiety and depression through that experience, but I didn’t connect what I was feeling to the words I studied. I remained separate from “them”. After all, I had plenty reason to feel sadness.
Since childhood, I’ve noticed I tire easily and have more aches and pains than others my age. By my mid-thirties, pains that once required a heating pad began to overtake my existence. It was only when I could no longer focus, I was forced to face my new reality. I found myself getting confused at work and crying with little provocation. I heard negative voices in my head telling me I was incompetent and undeserving. I no longer felt hunger. The feeling of impending doom shattered my sense of well-being. Deep within my neurosis, I was no longer able to recognize what was happening to me. I could not simply pull myself out of it.
Fortunately, a friend quickly noticed the warning signs and urged me to see her doctor. When no physical issues were found, I was prescribed an antidepressant. Although it took years, I was eventually diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a chronic neurological condition that lowers serotonin levels in your brain. Many suffers of Fibromyalgia have anxiety and depression.
It may seem unlikely I’d view this experience as a blessing, but I do. My experience has taught me more than words ever could. Mental illness is no different than Cancer or Diabetes. It is something that overtakes your body in a physical sense, even if there isn’t a test that confirms its existence.
I am proud to say that in my former role as Vice President, I had opportunity to help others recognize they were suffering from mental illness. I was able to offer a sympathetic ear and bring comfort to those seeking help. Unless you’ve suffered from a chronic condition, including mental illness, you can’t understand how all-encompassing it can be. Fibromyalgia brought me a level of compassion and understanding I otherwise would have never had. For that, I am grateful.