Although considered severely disabled with Major Depressive Disorder, I am also considered “high functioning.” I work full time about eight months of the year. I have had this position with the federal government for four years. Each year I have been able to increase the amount of hours I work.
I also suffer from an autoimmune disease that is also not understood well by the general public. And last January the doctors discovered a parathyroid tumor that they removed. The tumor causes increased blood calcium which affects cognitive ability and can also cause depression. After the tumor was removed I felt as if a veil was lifted. My ability to concentrate and hold information improved greatly.
It is very important that we explore every physical possibility or ailment that may hinder our efforts to be well mentally. I am just beginning to recognize my stressors that give way to negative thinking. If I try to take on too much at work I will begin to cry easily and little things that happen will send me into major paranoia. The same thing happens to me on weekends. I will make a “to do” list that three people couldn’t accomplish. Realizing that I am expecting too much of myself is a major step. I can then sit, calm myself and prepare a realistic list of chores.
I am learning to speak out when something is bothering me. It does not matter how minute an issue may seem, it’s very important to get it out. It’s important to have someone who will listen. I can go into my manager’s office and tell her I just need to vent and she’ll say, “Vent away!” If no one is around, writing down what is bothering me is the next best thing.
I have never tried to kill myself but I have had some scary thoughts about how easy it would be to do. I have been hospitalized twice and since then I have developed the skills I need to get through the rough times. I have a case worker through the county where I live. If I find myself overwhelmed by another agency, a doctor, anything really. I can call on my case worker to help me figure it out.
The biggest tragedy I have suffered because I am mentally ill is the loss of friendships and alienation from family members. The arguments start when I tell my sister how a event in our childhood left me with negative thoughts. My sister’s response is, “You’re crazy. That never happened.” When I stopped drinking my friends deemed me “antisocial”. I can’t do anything but shake my head and move on.