Mr. Moore, I recommend you see a psychiatrist. He can give you a prescription for depression and anxiety.
I heard those words in January 2014. The Illinois Social Security Disability Insurance Department sent me to their psychiatrist as part of my disability claim. Those were his final words as I was leaving his office.
I remember smiling when he said that. I didn't think I was really depressed. I just thought he was going to write that in his report. I'm pretty sure I was wrong about both.
At the time of this appointment, the SSDI department had already put me through a lot of hoops. It was paperwork-palooza. One hundred pages that I had to fill out myself, plus reports from my Neurologist, Primary Doctor and Therapist. Then there were all the medical tests. I was tired and worn out...and probably depressed. I just avoided calling it that.
All of this led to the following conversation with the psych doc:
Dr.X: Mr. Moore, How do you feel about being here?
H: (Sigh) I'm depressed and anxious about this.
Doc: What's going on in your life to make you feel this way?
Me: (Another sigh) Let's see...I have Parkinson's, I live in a shelter with 35 other people, I'm broke, and you guys have put me through six months of crap that could have been done in a few weeks. Now I'm sitting here talking to you. Why do you think I'm depressed and anxious?
And yet I was in denial.
Depression is a huge problem for people with Parkinson's Disease. The changes in your brain and body lead to possible Depression. The meds we take don't help. One of the first things we're told after diagnosis is to find a mental health professional.
Depression and other mental illnesses are also a huge program for the homeless. It's one of the major causes that lead to homelessness and once you're there, it only gets worse.
At least half the people I was living with were taking a drug for depression. Some were taking multiples.
Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil....OY! Cymbalta, Trazadone..are you kidding me? I saw people taking those and other anti-depressants every day. And when they ran out they borrowed drugs from others. No wonder I thought I was okay...because I was compared to what I was watching.
And yet I could have been the poster boy for Depression. I had two things leading me into darkness. When you combine those with the holidays, a Lung Cancer scare, and the start of a long horrid winter, it was a wonder I didn't hit rock bottom. I dunno...maybe I did.
There were things that saved me...or maybe fooled me. I was already in therapy. Whenever things were really bad I had an outlet. It really helped...still does.
I also had a friend who was so messed up from his cocktail of drugs that he couldn't function. Watching a man sleep with his head on a table for five hours because his meds are messed up makes you think you're doing just fine. Of coturse, just because someone else is fucked up doesn't mean that you aren't, too. Depression is not a competition.
And then there was Christmas 2013. OMFG Christmas!
There's nothing like waking up on Christmas morning with 35 other people, who are all fighting their own demons. Next you head to a party where everyone else is excited and happy. Why shouldn't they be, it's Christmas! That brings you down even more. Then you head back to the shelter. Nice trifecta,
You know you're fucked up when an alcoholic friend, who has spent her Christmas Day drinking away six months of sobriety, is talking you down off a ledge.
So what's the point of this long-winded diatribe? We just finished Mental Health Awareness Month. It's ironic that at a time where more people than ever need mental health help, government cutbacks make it harder to get. Illinois has been hit hard by this. Mental health clinics throughout the state are either closing or cutting back on services. It's affected two of the facilities I've worked with and has forced me to change therapists.
Pretty shocking that the government once again fails the people who really need them. Nothing new there, right?
Is there anything we can do about this? Probably not. All you can do about the cutbacks is to call, write, email, visit your local representative and let them know how you feel.
Is there anything you can do about personal depression or other mental health issues? That's easier!
Admit you have a problem. Don't try to go it on your own. Find a therapist or a psychiatrist. There is nothing wrong with needing help. There's no stigma attached to seeing a professional. It's a good thing to be able to tell someone what's bothering you.
Did you know that depression affects 1 out of 10 people at some point in their lives? Did you know that 80% of the people who have symptoms of clinical depression are not getting any treatment? That doesn't have to be you!
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