Sunday, October 19, 2014

treatment overview.

Thursday was my 36th and final head aching treatment.

It was a very long process, and me and my fellow patients are all feeling positively about the whole experience.

I have learned something very important about my treatments (medications, talk therapy, and now TMS) so far. It is this:

    Depression is its own entity that shares my body with me.
    Before I started any form of treatments, it was my master. It controlled my puppet strings completely.
    It told me things that weren't true and I believed them.

   Treatment does not take away that entity.
   What it does is create a separation between me and that entity.

Last night, i experienced my classic night-time panic of depressing thoughts.
 My depression said   I am failing. 
                                      I can't handle this at all
                                      I can't handle being an adult, there is no way I can continue
                                      If I was to die I wouldn't have to be worried about all of this crap. 
                                      I might as well, I can't handle it anyway. 

My treatments have allowed me to see that those are not my thoughts. Those are my depression's thoughts.
My treatments have allowed me to find my own voice, and my own perspectives.
My treatments have allowed me to talk back when my depression talks.

So last night I said   You are not failing, you are struggling.
                                   You have anxiety about money that can be worked on
                                   You will adapt.
                                  Every animal in the world can adapt to changed in its enviornment. 
                                 Even a sea sponge. 
                                 If a sea sponge can do it, I can do it. 
Dying for this would be an overreaction. 

Depression is irrational.
Depression wants to find relief at any and all costs.
I am rational.
 I have the ability to learn and grow.
I can add humor to things that are really not funny.

That is what treatment for depression can do and has done for me.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

the light

I've been working so much that I have started neglecting my blog. I'm sorry blog.
First, a TMS update:
   I have successfully completed my core treatments and have started my tapper treatments. This means last week, instead of going everyday, I had 3 treatments last week, and next week I will have 2
     Then I will be finished. 

   It has been 3 days since my last treatment.
   Today I woke up and felt amazing.
   I went to work, and I felt amazing.
   I couldn't stop smiling.
   I couldn't stop saying "I feel fucking awesome"

And this is the silver lining of depression.

          That I can have days that I use the word "amazing", "awesome", even euphoric, to                    describe my mood. To describe my spirit. 
    and to have this happen when nothing super special happens to put that irreversible smile     on my face. 
to have this happen purely self generated. 

See, when depression takes over, the sadness is self generated. Nothing has to be "wrong" for you to feel so wrong. 

When you spend so long with that burden, you appreciate the happiness ten fold. 
Not even do you appreciate happiness, but you appreciate not feeling sad. 
And feeling not sad can become pure, amazing happiness. 

It is honestly a beautiful thing. 

and I feel fucking amazing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

emotional memory and stone faces.

Its weird, unfortunate and beautiful how my brain stores memory.
People with genetic and chromic depression are thought to have a higher capacity for emotional memory, due to slight variations in the amygdala.
 Basically amygdala is a a vindictive bitch. 
She remembers everything, smothered in a thick coat of emotional responses. 
Each feeling I experience leads to another memory.
This week has been painful.
It has been a year since we gained knowledge that my father was dying.

It took me back to 2010. June 8th.
I sat on my cousins bed, while she sat on the floor, huddled. Phone book open in front of her.
I stared across at my brothers face. He sat in a chair, elbows on his knees, hands covering his mouth, as he always sits when hes mad, or frustrated, or basically anything negative. Tears were in his eyes but they were blank.
My brain was racing. What do I do, what do I do, what do I do -- over and over it asked.
This continued for what felt like an eternity as I listened to her say the words he was killed last night  to every new voice on the other end of the phone.

I sat with my father that night and told him this memory would never leave my mind. What should I have done? What should I have said? Should I have hugged her?
I hurt to badly for her. I thought about my own brother, own best friend, and what if it was me.
I couldn't imagine. I literally could not create an image of how I would feel or react.

He said, You know that is, and always will be, the hardest thing you will ever face. 

I'd say those days are tied.
The weird thing is, a lot of days are tied.
Even my days in middle school, where my depression took me over, even though nothing was "wrong" at the time.
I've learned that I've experienced many hard times, and even though some might consider one harder than another, the intensity can be equal.

So there I sat. Four years later. Again, staring into my brother's face while he sat in the exact same posture as he did that day in my cousin's bedroom, when my dad asked me to sit on the end of his hospital bed.
I think I stopped listening at the word pancreatic.
Of course there were tears. Of course there was hugging and tissues and snot.
And with my dad, of course there was laughter.

. . .

I get this image in my head from every action movie ever, where the hero is walking, the camera on there face, which is completely serious and emotionless, while massive explosions and turmoil erupted behind them.

That is what these days feel like. Where the memories are fire and chaos and damage behind me, and I have to keep walking forward and show nothing.


I wrote a piece about this  a while ago that I think I'd like to share. We'll see how I feel after I post it.
I never finished it, but thats okay. so here goes.

. . .

In third grade we played a game called Math Baseball. 
My teacher would hold up a multiplication problem to two children standing awkwardly in front of the class, to see who answered first. 

    This revealed far more than our academic development. 
Unveiled were the individual ticks and quirks if each child 
    in response to nervousness, pressure and fear.
    Who shook, who stuttered, and who raised their voice.
Little did we know how these simple reactions spoke to our mental defenses.

              I was bad at math.
          I did not like this game. 
      My teacher termed me stone face.

             Blank stone face. 
Emotionless and unmoving. Stagnant in the face of pressure. 
         How wrong, I thought.

If erosion played with my skin like it did with stone, my features would be gone by now.
If events treated a cracked foundation like weight and age did, I'd be rubble today.

  I am only the same in how I move.
Traveling through years like a small pebble being rhythmically kicked along down the street by some stranger,
                                       by this face I've never seen with a voice I've never heard.
Stopping at each point before being kicked once again.

There were many faces in the room that day who stood like granite statues.
Some jagged and chipped by blunt strikes,
    others smoothed and rounded by the of waves crashing over them.
Here, we all washed up on the same shore.

I sit on that shore now, feeling the receding tide slowly pull the sand from under my body,
leaving me to reside in the shallow hole that has been created.

But even stone can be shaped.
Rocks can be carved by strong hands
               that chip patiently through the layers that cover the masterpiece within.
The same hands that might pocket the small smooth stone that they find
 resting on the shore.


end?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I tripped.

I called this the stumble for a reason.
My dad always played a cover of Freddie King's song "the stumble".  The itself song has nothing to do with the influence in this blog.
The title always stuck with me. When I heard it, it just clicked somewhere.
Yes, that is how this life feels sometimes. Not always falling, but not always steady either. 
I really wanted to post that, being my last week of treatments, I was feeling great and my mood was continuing to rise.
Unfortunately, the last week and a half have been my stumbles I suppose.

I've been having those days where I am holding back tears for no reason.
When no matter how wide I try to open my eyes, they are still half shut.
Where the tired feeling lays in my bones.
I have moments where I step out of my body. Where I am watching the people around me and feel like its on a screen.
Completely dissociated from them and whatever this all is.
I wonder if his sacrifices will be worth the life I have before me.
I catch myself questioning the purpose of me in total.
That has been my week.  This is depression.
Discomfort and senselessness.

I am not proud to admit this, but I am striving to admit everything through this process.

I feel disappointed in myself for not handling my emotions and reactions better.
I am understanding of where my feelings of outrage are stemming from.

I have learned that anger is not an emotion that stands alone.
It grows only from a sense of injustice.
Sometimes that sense creates sparks and erupts.
I think I always felt more comfortable letting the fire slowly burn lightly as to not let it explode.
I feel like the parts that hold that low flame for so long become hardened over time.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Music; my thoughts on suicide prevention in schools.

"The music helps." she said.

It's very simple. The music helps. The music does a lot of things, many to which I can't describe.

"My whole existence is based on it, and I just can't ignore it." my dad said to me back in 2012.   I'm starting to think that my existence is partly based upon it too.
 I may not be a musician (yet), but there is something about it that runs in my veins.

Some of my fondest and strongest memories are of when my father would play songs for me. Through my childhood as a club athlete, there were many weekly long care rides. He found such joy in making mix CDs, all hand picked songs that he knew I would love.  He was so excited to share.

The other day I was driving to work and a song popped up on his ipod (which I know use) that I had never heard before. I instantly started smiling and crying simultaneously. This song fit my mood and energy and spirit at that moment so perfectly.
                         Perfect.
         It was absolutely perfect.
 And he was playing it for me.

This led me to another memory, which I wanted to share with everyone.
I think I was in 6th or 7th grade. I was going on my first travel tournament for soccer. My dad loaded my ipod with songs for my very first plane ride.

This was probably the age where I suffered most from my depression alone. I felt so different. So out of place.
I remember getting to the hotel with my soccer team when "We've Been Waiting" by Graham  Central Station came on my ipod. My jaw dropped, I thought it was one of coolest things I had ever heard.

The entire day I listened to it over and over, and it made me happy.
Then, when we were sitting outside putting on our gear, still listening to my song, the other girls started playing some music, some hip hop, chart topper I can't remember.
     My heart sank.
I checked to make sure that my headphones weren't too loud.
What if they can hear what I'm listening too?
Will they think I'm weird?
Why am I so different?

Its strange to me that music could bring all these doubts out in me. But my music showed who I was at a deeper level and I always knew that.

My point is, when I look at those memories, I see only self doubts and frustration. I was annoyed that I was different. I was confused.  And now, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    I know so many kids feel this in school.  And no one should ever belittle those feelings. Even now, after all the much more serious events I've lived through, I still acknowledge the pain that I felt during those years to be very real.

  My message to kids going through these struggles is wait.
  Unfortunately the suicide rate of kids in these age range high. too high.
  The feelings are very real and should never be addressed as being "small problems"
  Even if your life circumstances don't change, your outlook will.
  Just wait and see.
Those things that make you unsure might make you very proud later.

you just have to wait and see.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Finding the positives.

sorry it's been a while since my last post. the schedule of TMS and work has gotten slightly overwhelming.
I am almost officially half way done with the treatments. I have noticed the pain will vary a little bit from day to day, but overall it is still very tolerable.

On Thursday I experienced my first "down day", as my dad and I used to call it. Those days when you wake up and feel like the sleep you just woke from didn't actually reach your body. Just one of those days of depression.
I thought to myself that it was a good sign that I was able to recognize that mood as being different from the past few weeks. If that mood seems different, that is a very good sign.
Usually it is my constant state.

Last night I had an awesome time hanging out with my brother and some of his friends. I laughed more than I have months. Today I felt really sad about it. It was just like being with my dad and my brother again. It was just constant laughter with us three.
I miss that feeling more than anything.
Its hard losing my father from my life, but its also been hard losing my brother from my house. I really miss laughing like that. It is so joyous.
However, I am really trying to push myself to see positives.

I have learned now that those types of nights of laughter have not disappeared along with my father's presence. There were so many times when my thoughts were convinced that my life would be nothing but sadness without him.
That my light would be gone.

It may be less frequent, but it is not impossible.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

waves.

Today was my thirteenth treatment.  I have to say, today was the best I've felt through this whole experience. Which is weird, because today was a little more painful than yesterday.

I also got my first real proof  that TMS is doing something. This might be too much information for some, but I thought it was an interesting marker. Usually a week before my period I feel extremely irritable, (yes, hold any stereotypical comments) which I actually use as my marker for my cycle timing. 
This week I didn't even realize where my cycle was, because my mood was so good. 
What a nice break. For me and the rest of the world. 

So an elderly woman asked me about my tattoo at work today. 
We started talking and ended up sharing a bunch of wonderful memories.
Which brought me to the ocean again. 

I remember writing about this shortly after my cousin was killed in a tragic, freak accident. 
Those thoughts all came back today.  This is what I thought.

People say "it comes in waves" and that is exactly what it's like. 

Sometimes it hits like a strong wave. Those waves that knock you off your center and pushes you under forcefully and you come up feeling stunned but it passes at fast as it hit.
Sometimes its many waves. When one takes you under, the next one sweeps over your head before you can come up for air and you get lost in the weight of the water for a while. Completely engulfed. 
 Sometimes it's smaller. Like when you stand on the shore of a beach. The waves come up and wrap around your feet. Its cold. When the water retreats you feel the earth slowly pull from under your feet. And you wonder if you will keep sinking gradually if you keep letting the water pull. 
The last one is what it usually feels like to me when I think of my dad. Like my world will just keep being pulled right from under my feet. 
But today was different. Today it was like just looking over the ocean. Reminiscing with this woman was like standing on the sand looking at a beautiful scene. What we saw was only positive and wonderful.
It was a nice gift.  
 
 
 
 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

the end of week two

Officially done with the second full 5 day treatment. And these 5 days were all at the maximum! 

I had a horrible night at work last night. I was left alone to cover 3 departments and about 20 costumers. 
It was the 5th.  
It marked the 8 month anniversary of my father's passing. 
It marked the 3 months from of my brother's first chemo session
and it was the day of my mother's second surgery for melanoma. 

I wanted to be home with my family. Eating my dad's cooking. Throwing balled up napkins into my brother's cup. Reminiscing about midnight swims. Popcorn.

Then I thought about where and what I was last year. 

If anyone had told me at that time that those were all the thoughts that would be wondering my head while I was at work, 
                                   I would have thought there was no way on earth I would last. 

  But I did my job. I treated my costumers as well as I could. I called my manager and defended myself. I panicked a little. I got to my car and I cried. I called a friend. By the time I got home I was laughing with him and I felt better.
I apologized to my manager this morning for losing my calm and he was very understanding.

I think the best thing I have learned has been about self limitations. 
I have a better knowledge about what I can and can't do,
                more confidence with what I can and more realism about what I can't
I have learned when I need reach out
                when to defend myself and when its okay to vent or cry.



oh man, my brain.




Thursday, September 4, 2014

one hundred twenty

Today was a big day without any feeling of celebration. I finally got my TMS up to 120%. 
I could tell right away that the intensity was raised today, unlike my jump to 115%
But the pain was so much more manageable than I thought.

A week ago, I had a moment of panic, I was telling my friend how concerned I was that I wouldn't be able to handle the maximum, and that this was, in no doubt in my mind, going to fail as a treatment. 
 But like many of my panic pessimistic thoughts, this was not the case

I feel great right now. 
I feel proud. 
I'm still worried about the costs but I know once I start feeling better, it will not longer matter to me.

I think I need to speak with my manager about giving me less hours at work. I'm so exhausted. I really want to write some more about my thoughts through out the day, but its midnight and I have to get up at 7:30 for treatment. Then work. Too late. 

good night all. 

keep hope. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TMS update

today was great.
my sneaky doctor bumped my magnets up to 115 last thursday
she told me today, so I've officially made it three treatments at 115 without even noticing an increase in pain.
The pain is still present during the pulses, but the headache is much less afterwards.

then I went to work.  I felt very good.  Like my good, happy inner child.

I was enjoying talking with customers and trying to make people laugh.
even though it was very slow my mood was so high. it felt good.

I use my humor so much as a defense mechanism I think. I've been thinking about Robin Williams and his suicide. Also how my father was so dedicated to making people laugh, even as he struggled so much with depression. 
I remember when we found out about my brother cancer diagnosis shortly after my dad passed from cancer, all we could do was laugh about how ridiculous it was. 
And that was an honest reaction.
I think the deeper you feel sorrow, the easier you can feel joy. 
Which then brought me to a quote from the Prophet:


The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. ...      When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.       When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.




good night all. up early again tomorrow for TMS number 9.

Monday, September 1, 2014

it's never a race

sometimes it feels like I've been on a treadmill for a really really really long time. 

really. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

My warrior brain.

its been  a very interesting process to step outside myself and observe what my mind has been doing on its own for so long. 
         I've found that it is its own identity. 
         It is a little warrior
                 and it knows exactly how to protect me. 

I am seeing this now as it slowly lets its guards down around the memories of the last 6 months of my fathers death. 
How unbelievable the defense mechanisms were. 
I see the pictures and I now think how I could have possible looked at him in his physical state and not be terrified. I wasn't at the time. 
My thoughts were, wow, his smile looks huge now that his face is so thin. Such nice teeth. Why didn't I get his beautiful smile!?

My whole life I had night terrors and panic attacks all on the topic of what would happen if I lost my father. It was literally a haunting thought for me. 
I thought to myself, when my dad goes, I will probably go to.

             But when the time came, those thoughts never came.

September is suicide awareness month. 

My message to everyone is this:
   You are more resilient than you think. 
   Depression will put ideas in you're mind that you can't possibly go on like this
   That when things get worse, and oh they will get worse, you will remove yourself and all        will be better.
   It's not true. 
   Now that my father is gone, all I want to do is live and recover. 
   You're outlook can and will change. 

    

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I have a child's head.

another very long day. 
I also have started a new job as of last week, stupidly at the same time I started tms. 
Now my schedule is as followed:
-wake up at 7:30
-get zapped in head for 40 minutes
-sleep for hour
-sit in traffic for 45 minutes
-work from 1-10:45ish
-shower, sleep (at the same time)

but anyway, 
I got the magnets bumped up to 110 (I should get to 120 by week 2 to have the best effect)
It was painful, more of a shocky feeling than a head achey feeling
but the lady said I am the only one out of the four that is experiencing any pain....

and they think its because I have a small head...seriously. 
But, I seem to run into that problem a lot...seriously...lens crafters said I needed child frames....

yeah, so they are looking into possibly getting a smaller coil that will hopefully not target my nerves as much. we will see! 


Mood wise, I feel good. I've been thinking about my father a lot, as expected. 
Its getting easier to distinguish depression from grief, which I think is a good thing. 
The biggest change I've noticed in a huge decrease in my fatigue. 

Fatigue is an understatement really. It all started the day after my father told me about his diagnosis, which was roughly 11 months ago. 
I pretty much became narcoleptic.  
Tiredness that was in my bones. In my eyes. My fingertips.  Everyday, all day.
For the last 5 days I've only needed to take one small nap after TMS, then I haven't felt tired at all during my 9 hour work shift.
Which is pretty fucking huge. 

so yeah. pretty sweet. goodnight all. stay well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The day the straws attacked.

So both yesterday and todays treatment were still painful. Less of the stabby feeling and more of a head achey feeling. But overall still nothing I can't handle. 
The lady running it said the guy who goes before me has fallen asleep for all of his last 4 treatments, so that just goes to show how individual this treatment is. 

Yesterday I was running around my house trying to find straws so I could drink something during my treatment. I spent about 8 minutes looking without thinking about it. 
I hopped up on my counter to check in a cabinet and boom,
       Memory flood.


All of a sudden I was overwhelmed with flashes of memories of searching for straws in my fathers apartment, collecting them off the floor, 
putting them in his water bottles, 
making runs to cvs to get more,
how sad I felt that he could no longer lift a cup,
and all other random straw related memories from the end of my fathers life.

It was exactly like those flash back compilations you see in movies when the main character puts all the pieces together and has some profound ah-ha moment.

It was a lot like the PTSD memories I get; in that they come up when they want. 
There is no conscious retrieval involved. 
But I noticed something important.

There was no strong emotional attachment to these memories as they came. 
I simply acknowledged that they existed and were now surfacing, but they didn't control my affect. 
They didn't make me sad.

I don't know what I can attribute this too exactly,  but this was definitely a new and, from what I believe, positive way for me to experience some of the unpleasant memories from those hard few months. 


Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 3

So I decided to take a short video today to show the treatment. It was still a little painful, but overall very tolerable. I have a mild headache, but it went away without so yeah, pretty much 40 minutes of this.
 enjoy!
video

Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 1 Sf TMS

Today was the big day! 
I had my brain mapping and first treatment of TMS, a new, amazing, long term treatment for chronic depression. What an amazing experience.  I was laughing and saying "this is so cool!" the whole time. 
The mapping took about half an hour. They target the magnet at the motor cortex, and apply one pulse and wait until the right hand has a reflex to the current. Then they target it down until only the thumb moves. This gives them the location of the prefrontal cortex. It's weird, we all know that the brain and body are connected, but its not until you experience something like this that makes it really sink in. The brain is amazing.

Then I had my first treatment, another 40 minutes. At first, it was EXTREMELY painful, like an electrocution to the face. With minor adjustments we worked are way to less pain.
Still a very odd sensation.
The team is super friendly and even though today was more painful than expected I'm still excited.
Tomorrow will be better!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The moment of realization

So it's been 7 months since my father passed away. It's been 7 months since I've done anything. I stopped doing my school work, I stopped running, I stopped working. The only thing I really started was sleeping.
  It wasn't that I was too tired or too depressed. I honestly felt okay. It was like I WANTED to do nothing. I couldn't quite figure this out. 


  Well a few days ago I had a job interview and got hired on the spot. When I got home I had this sick feeling of anxiety, and I felt like crying about my father. I was so confused at to why now, 7 months later, right after a great day, feel like i can barely keep from crying that he's gone?

      Then it hit me.  Really hard.


I had been trying so hard to not do anything because I didn't want to accept any of it. I wanted it to not be real. It didn't matter if I didn't do my school work, or not have a job or anything because it was all just a dream that I would eventually wake up from. 

     All of a sudden, its like I snapped out of this fog that was over me. 
This is all real. This is my life now. This is my life, and he is no longer in it. 


So where do I go from here?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

my goal.

So I've been wanting to do a blog for a while. I wanted to share my experience dealing with genetic depression and also some of the traumas and experiences I have lived with and continue to battle. 
           My goal is to give insight to those who may not fully understand what it is like to live with a mental illness. 
                                       I want to fight the stigmas of mental illness. 
                              I want to help others who suffer, and allow others to help me.
                   I want to show people I am not ashamed of being a patient of mental illness. 

                          I want to prove that mental health is as important as physical health.


I have an opportunity now to helpfully but my lifelong depression into remission with a new treatment called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). 
I will be started my treatment on the 22nd, which will continue 5 days a week, for 5 weeks. I believe greatly in this new form of treatment and want to help prove that this treatment is effective, and most of all, safe.
I'll also be using this as my own personal journal.  You can read about my background in the about me section