Friday, May 25, 2007

D is for Depression

I am disabled, I have a mental health diagnosis of major (aka: clinical) depression. I have had severe episodes of Depression since my teens, but it was not officially diagnosed as such until 1997, when I was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts.

What is Major Depression?**
Major depression is a brain disorder that is much more than temporarily feeling sad or blue. It is a serious medical illness that affects one's thoughts, feelings, behavior, and physical health. It is a biologically based brain disease, not a weakness....Some people have one episode of depression in a lifetime, but many have recurrent episodes. Others have ongoing, chronic symptoms. Gee, I'm doubly blessed. I get it both ways!! Seriously, the chronic symptoms are managed through medication, and I usually (but not always) realize when things start to slide into a more major episode, at which time I seek psychotherapy/counseling Since 1990 I have had three major episodes which have ultimately resulted in job loss. It is because of this I receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). As I mentioned in the "B is for BVHE" post, I like my current part-time position. But if something should occur on my part or theirs, I have SSDI to fall back on.

The onset of the first episode of major depression may not be obvious if it is brief or mild. Unrecognized or left untreated, however, it may recur with greater seriousness or progress to a syndrome that includes a profoundly sad or irritable mood lasting at least two weeks and accompanied by pronounced changes in sleep, appetite, energy, ability to concentrate and remember, interest in usual activities, and capacity to experience pleasure.

Of all the mental disorders, depressive illnesses are among the most responsive to treatment. With available treatment, 80% of people with serious depression can improve and return to their normal daily activities and feelings, usually in a matter of weeks. But if an individual's depression tends to recur once treatment is discontinued--a significant number of people have recurrent depression--the the illness can be handled with ongoing treatment....Major depression is a medical illness that produces emotional symptoms, so both medication and psychotherapy mat be needed to treat it. The objective of treatment is to lessen the duration and intensity of the episodes of illness and to prevent their recurrence. I currently take three medications to help control my depression: Seroquel (minimum dosage at night to assist with normal sleep), Effexor XR, and Wellbutrin. I am not currently in therapy of any kind, a psychiatrist oversees my medications quarterly. The most troublesome side-effect I have is excessive sweating and being prone to overheating. Both Effexor and Seroquel can cause this. I have come close to heat stroke only once, and never want to do so again. I know to carry water and/or sports drinks with me when I walk, ride a bike, and expect to be out in the sun. I always have a container of fluid in the cup holder in my car. I have permission of the stores I service to carry and consume water while working, as long as I am discreet about it.

**taken from Understanding Major Depression: what you need to know about this medical illness, published by National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)

Monday, May 07, 2007

C is for ...

C is for Cars. Neither of my parents drove when I was growing up. My Dad took the bus to work, we lived just around the corner from a stop on the 21A Selby-Lake busline. When we moved to West St. Paul in 1976, we were just a block off of the 7A Thomas-Smith busline. My Mom was a homemaker and also an 'ironing lady'; i.e, she took in laundry--mostly work and school uniform shirts. She washed and ironed them, and hung them on a long closet type rod which hung in between the living and dining rooms. I used to love the smell of newly starched and ironed shirts. Later, she got a job at ABC Diaper Service, which was a short 3 block walk up Selby. I It was one block away from Richard Gordon Elementry School. I think she started there when I was in 5th grade. This was the time schools were just beginning to serve 'hot' lunches. Previous to this, students were dismissed to go home for lunch.
My Dad finally learned to drive when he was in his 50's. Looking back-although I am sure my siblings and I may have missed out on some activities during our youth- I feel it is a good thing he did not drive until we were grown. He is an alcoholic... now with almost 30 years sobriety!
I learned to drive in my mid-20's. Like my parents, until then I lived and worked handy to my places of employ, except for one job. Then I payed a co-worker $10.00/week to give me a ride to and from. Anyway, I digress. This is a list of the cars I have owned:

  • 76 Mercury Monarch
  • 87?Dodge Colt
  • 91 Dodge Shadow
  • 97 Dodge Shadow (I loved the Shadow! Still do)
  • 95? Dodge Caravan
  • 97 Ford Taurus
  • 83 Saab (genuine beater car--the right quarter panel was held together with duct tape)
  • 89 Mitsu Montero
  • and currently: 97 Dodge Caravan

Cars are such wonderful things! I put $1300 into the Caravan during February to keep it moving, and two months later in April, I spent another $500 on it to make sure it would stop!!