Monthly Archives: December 2015

My take on depression.

It’s not amazing, but it’s true, and still is although I’m better now. Be kind because you never know when someone is super stressed out or sick. Just because we look fine, doesn’t mean we are.

Worst things to say to someone who is already depressed:

1) You just need to give yourself a kick in the rear.~ I am pretty sure if all the rocks didn’t hit me everywhere on the way down, I’m not well enough to do that. I will tell you, say that again to me, and it will be your behind I kick when I get out of this bed. Are you still here?
2) No one ever said life was fair.~ Well, color me shocked. No SHIT sherlock. That person didn’t have whatever events sent me over the edge. I never asked for fair. I asked for a chance. If I’m still breathing, shut the hell up.
3) There are a lot worse off people than you.~ Yes, I’m aware. I count my blessings every day that I haven’t had to experience the things some others have. I also know it’s not a question of who is worse off. It’s not a game. Every person’s life is real to them, and you can’t compare pain unless you’re trying to triage an accident. Don’t be a snobby, sanctimonious ass.
4) Well everyone gets depressed sometimes!~ Absolutely. Some people are sad, some people are situationally depressed, and some are chemically imbalanced, and some are all of the above. Getting bummed out over gaining two pounds might not seem like a huge thing. To me, it means I have to alter my medication. Do not judge. Unless you have found a way to be in my head, you have NO idea.
5) Maybe you should take vitamins for your stress!~ Ok, this one made me smile. I can only speak for myself, and I do take a multi-vitamin every day. I take the highest level of Iron pill I can buy. And then I take the 17-20 prescription drugs I have to. If pain is high, and my allergies act up and I can’t sleep, add 5 more drugs. Don’t talk to me about vitamins. It really won’t end well for you.
6) You need a hobby.~ You’re right! I do. My hobby used to be reading. I have a concentration problem because of my brain injury, and I can’t do that anymore. Even now, this is taking all I have. I would actually love to learn to knit, but my hands are sometimes unsteady, and I don’t have the money to spend on wasteful things, so I won’t learn. I count myself very lucky I can still type and walk and cook and sing. When was the last time you were grateful for what you have?
7) Just pull yourself together!~ For me, this is the equivalent of waving the red cape in front of the already stabbed and angry bull. Never tell me this. Do NOT tell me to calm down, because I absolutely, 100% guarantee, you will see the opposite effect. I’m of Irish descent, and I just don’t take any more kindly to being told what to do than I did when I was well. When you can manage to go through a single day without a mistake, a misstep, a moment where you messed up, KUDOS. It’s harder when you have to try twice as hard not to mess up in front of people.
8 ) Just try a little harder!~ In order to be politically correct, I won’t punch you. When you come back as a supremely amazing being with compassion and an IQ, we’ll talk.
9) You have no reason to feel this way. ~ Seriously? I definitely have a reason to feel the way I do, but let’s just pretend I didn’t have all the trauma I did. At what point is it ok to be sad? When your husband cheats on you with a friend and moves her into your “used to be” house? When you go through divorce? When your father dies? When your partner’s mother dies? When you realize that you can’t drive yourself anywhere, and have to rely on everyone else, when you used to be one of the most independent women you knew. WHEN are you supposed to have reason to feel this way? Shame on YOU for even saying such a thing, you awful person. Everyone is different, and breaking points are different, but to have the gall to presume you know what someone else’s pain is, is disgusting.
10) You will be ok, just hang in there, it will pass.~ The depression? The anxiety? Maybe it will. Get the right meds, and the right people to talk to and fix what caused this, if it’s situational. Otherwise, give the rest of us a break. I hang in there every damn day. It will pass, because I work at it. Don’t you dare pat me on the head and say it will be ok. Neither of us will like the outcome.
11) You don’t like feeling that way? Then change it!~ Ok let’s try this scenario. I know I’m fat. Not overweight, FAT. I have to do something about it, so I go see a nutritionist, and my general doc, and I read nutrition labels until I can see them in my sleep, and I dream of being thin, and I exercise as much as I can. Ok, now I’m not fat. I’m still society’s definition of chunky. I will keep working, but now I know it won’t happen overnight. It’s the same deal with depression, and heaven help you if there is a chemical imbalance, like being bi-polar, or having a brain injury. Have to work fifty times harder to change it.
12) You have it so good; why aren’t you happy?~ so good. Such a relative term. I have what you want? Somehow if you actually understood, you might not think that way. Happy is a temporary state- it generally means to be pleased over a particular thing. I strive to be contented, fulfilled, satisfied, because those things are NOT ephemeral. Sometimes, I can not help what my brain does, because I have a chemical imbalance, or I am brain damaged. It’s that simple.
13) I thought you were stronger than that.~ This is one I’ve personally never heard. Possibly because they WOULD have to put me in restraints. If you are such an asshole, that you feel that in any, way, shape or form, this is an acceptable thing to say to a “friend,” I wish you all that great Karma right on back. Somewhere, there is a bus, a crosswalk, and your asinine being all coming together. Again, strength and ability to get through pain are only relevant to the person going through the trauma. YOU? You get to shut up and sit right the fuck down.
14) Snap out of it will you? ~Ok, we’re finally done with this nonsense. First of all, that phrase came from the 70’s, and I’m fairly sure sane people don’t really want to go back there. (Although I would really like just one night at the original Studio 54.) Anyway, anyone who tells you to turn on and turn off emotions isn’t where I’m at. “I’m trying but this isn’t like the clapper, dipshidiot. Snap on, snap off!” You have my full permission to take this douchay down, A-Team style. It’s not that simple, and people who aren’t depressed can be really frustrated when this goes on for months or years. What they need to realize is, you’re either in it for the haul, or get ta steppin’. It’s not an excuse – it just may take that long. If you don’t feel like you can handle it, I already feel badly enough that I’m apparently responsible for your now ill mental health, so rip off the band aid and bail. End of story. Those who stay, I know are worth it.
Look, I’m not saying it’s not ok to call bullshit, or to say what you think. Just remember that depressed people think differently, and can’t be handled with the standard crap I would say to one of my friends after she broke a nail or got a flat tire, or burned dinner.

Things to remember about me.

I’m not dead yet!

It’s really difficult, but we are troopers, and we do the best job we can, when we can.

Listen up, kids. I know sometimes I sound like I’m harping on Traumatic Brain Injuries. Maybe I am. Have compassion for injuries you can’t see, because you never know what others go through to live in your world. Compassion in general is a good thing, right?
I’m paraphrasing an article, but it makes perfect sense to me when I put it in “Tarah-speak” and can say what I know people will understand. I am not trying to shove injury down peoples throats – my friends know how tough everyday life is for me sometimes, and I thank all of you.
Things you should know about TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury):
  1. We have cognitive deficiencies that don’t make sense, even to us. Some of us struggle to find the right word, while others can’t remember what they ate for breakfast. People who don’t understand, including some close to us, get annoyed with us and think we’re not paying attention. It couldn’t be further from the truth, because we have to try even harder to pay attention to things because we know we have deficiencies. We just want to feel like ourselves again, and not lose our friendships and all of our relationships.
  2. We suffer a great deal of fatigue. We may seem “lazy” to those who don’t understand, but the reality is that our brains need a LOT more sleep than normal, healthy brains. We also have crazy sleep patterns, sometimes sleeping only three hours each night (those hours between 1 and 5 a.m. are very lonely when you’re wide awake) and at other times sleeping up to 14 hours each night (these nights are usually after exerting a lot of physical or mental energy). Please be kind, because the truth is, I work hard to do the things I do. Every single thing I do, whether physical or mental, takes a toll on my brain. The more I use it, the more it needs to rest. If I go out to a crowded restaurant with a lot of noise and stimulation, I sometimes get overloaded and need to go home and rest. Even reading or watching tv causes my brain to fatigue.
  3. We live with fear and anxiety. Many of us live in a constant state of fear of hurting ourselves again. I can’t help the fact that my brain is wired differently than normal people. That sounds like a bad joke, but it isn’t. My veins and capillaries in my brain look like the worst freeway you have ever come across. It is bad enough that my neurologist freaked out. I suffered internal injuries, and external head injuries as well. I don’t have panic attacks often anymore, but they do happen. I’m not infallible.
  4. We often feel isolated and alone. I sometimes have a hard time leaving the house. I know as a rational human that it’s ridiculous. One of the issues I face, and many do, is inappropriate emotional response. I stay home sometimes because it’s far better than getting angry at my partner or some random, or crying my way out of a parking lot. This makes me feel alone sometimes, but I’ve learned how to deal with that. Just remember that if I seem distant sometimes, I am probably re-charging my mental battery.
  5. We deal with chronic pain. I’m not whining. I smashed my head, after aneurysms burst and broke my brain from the inside. I had seizures, cardiac arrests, severe head trauma, a sub arachnoid hemorrhage, and a stroke. Yes, I have pain, every day. I have nerve damage down the entire left side of my body. I’m not asking for pity, because that isn’t me at all. Just realize that sometimes I’m a little slow. It depends on the day.
This brain damaged girl is about to go from starting out in a walker, to braces up her whole left side, to doing a 1/2 marathon. NEVER rule me out of the game. If I’m still here, I’m still here.
P.S. I couldn’t have made it without the support of my wonderful partner, David Manzi. Some people are made of solid awesome.