Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Dear Michelle...

Yesterday I received an email from Michelle, someone who is suffering feelings that are very common to people with mood disorders. I'm not sure whether her diagnosis is unipolar or bipolar disorder. I just know that she has been depressed for the past five months. I'd like to share with you what she wrote so that the many of you who I know probably feel similarly can benefit from this as well.

Michelle wrote:

"I was diagnosed with a mood disorder years ago and was on meds with no real luck. I guess I seem to always think I'm just weak and a moral failure. Was this true for you at one point too? I know I need to be on meds now, but I'm breastfeeding my 6 month old, but I'm a wreck! I try to hold things all together and can manage but things are crazy.

Anyway, I just wanted to write b/c I found your website and I don't know anyone with a mood disorder and it is lonely and isolating to feel so different than everyone else i know who are consistent people."

Dear Michelle,

I'm sorry you haven't had any luck with medications. That can indeed make things tough. I hope though that you don't give up. There are new meds coming out all the time. Eventually you may find something that will help you. You say that you need to be on meds but are breastfeeding. If that means that you're not taking meds so that you can breastfeed, I wonder if you shouldn't reconsider. When I had my baby I stopped breastfeeding so that I could go back on medication. There was no way I could emotionally have been the kind of mother I needed to be without the medication. If you're not doing well right now, I would suggest you discuss this with your doctor.

You asked if I ever felt weak and a moral failure. I think I feel that way every time I get depressed as well. That's one of the worst things about depression. If you're feeling that way, I hope it will make you feel better to know that this feeling is simply your depression talking. Being depressed does not mean you are weak. It simply means that you have an illness - an illness that affects your thinking, making the usually optimistic you feel pessimistic.

I'm sorry you're feeling so lonely and isolated. That too is a symptom of depression. But please realize that there are many many people who suffer like you do. You are not alone. Why not check and see if there is a support group in your area? There's nothing like having a place to share time with others who suffer as you do. One of the best benefits is the realization that you are not alone. That in itself is a relief to know and will be a comfort to you.

I wish you well Michelle and pray that you will soon recover and be able to thoroughly enjoy your baby.

Take care,


Jena said...

Marja, I'm glad Michelle connected with you. There was so much wisdom in your response.

We said...

message for Michelle,
I have a long history with bipolar depression and have tried it all. I too had trouble finding a med that worked but I finally did. Life is not perfect, but it is more manageable. I agree with Marja, breastfeeding is not worth it if it makes you sick. I have had to give up a lot of things to stay well, but the alternative is not worth it. I will be praying for you. Don't give up...

Wendalyn said...

I agree with all of Marja's comments. As a veteran depression suffer I would encourage you not to give up. It took me ages to find a med that worked, ages... but it was worth waiting for. Life is not perfect but it is more manageable. I have had to give up a lot but it is better than the alternative! Is breastfeeding
worth it? Your baby will forgive you, mine did! I will be praying for you!

marja said...

Thank you, Jena and Wendalyn, for your comments. I hope Michelle will come and check here to read.

And Wendalyn, welcome to my blog. I believe this must be your first time here. Hope you'll visit often.

Nancie said...

Dear Marja, so glad that Michelle got in touch with you. Your reply is indeed encouraging and reassuring!

Dear Michelle, my heart goes out to you in your struggles. Know that you are not alone. I too have battled with depression for some 20 years before my diagnosis last year. I am thankful that meds help me. I agree with Marja that feeling weak and a moral failure, and feeling lonely and isolated are all symptoms of depression. I am glad you found Marja through the website. Do continue to reach out and seek help. I pray that you will find something that helps you and you will get better soon. Take care and praying for you.

michelle said...

Hi all. It's Michelle. Marja, thank you for your response and to everyone else.
One thing is when I read your responses I don't even feel like they pertain to me. I think I'm in deep denial. How did you all come to accept being bipolar???? I think if I could only accept it things would be OK and then they could get better. This always happens to me as a matter of fact I made my own diagnosis from looking over my past even before the dr. dx me.
I'm slowly reaching out, this seems to be the pattern- I get help and feel better then I take a turn for the worse. and it goes round and round up and down. I guess I've lived so long this way that it just seems normal to me now.Did that happen to any of you? As a matter of fact all my symptoms were present when I was a child but my parents didn't do anything about it. I guess they were in denial. They denied my brother had hearing loss and instead of getting him hearing aids like he needed he got tubes like 13 times. The dr. now says he'll be totally deaf by 40! whew! My body is so full of aches and pain from the depression and my neck and shoulders are way too stiff!
The number one thing that makes this all so difficult is my finance has enabled me for years and insists there is nothing wrong with me. He thinks if you're on meds then that means you're crazy. As you can imagine this is very difficult. I've brought it up again recently and told him to look over the last 10 years and that the pattern is obvious and he agrees and knows their is a huge emotional problem (high then low) and that I am helpless over these moods-he sees that, but don't think he wants to accept it either.
Anyway, I feel like I'm repeating myself, but I just wanted to say thanks again for being open and sharing with me.

marja said...

Nancie, Thank you for your comment and helping Michelle realize that she's not alone. It helps to have a whole group of us encouraging her.

marja said...

Michelle: "He thinks if you're on meds then that means you're crazy."

The thing is, the meds help you not to be sick. Your fiance has it all twisted around.

It would be so very helpful if you could learn to accept the fact that you have this illness, though I know that - because of the stigma (which, by the way, is an evil thing) - that is difficult.

I wrote my first book "Riding the Roller Coaster" specifically for people just learning to live with the disorder. I'm going to look through it and find an excerpt to write as my next post.

You're an A-okay person, Michelle. You can't help having this disorder and there's nothing wrong with your character. You're every bit as good as anyone else, but just have an illness that affects your brain - just like some people have illnesses that affect their heart or their kidney or... Your brain just happens to be another organ of your body. I hope you'll take courage in looking at it from that perspective, Michelle.