Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Love, Depression, and Loneliness

"I've been thinking...seriously thinking.
Thinking alot."

A line from Later the Same Evening, an opera by composer John Musto and librettist Mark Campbell, inspired by the art of Edward Hopper.

There will always be times which we each may feel a little disconnected from our surroundings or even our companions. We may become lost in our thoughts and become isolated. Or we may wake up one day to Houseguests as Tati described recently.

"The problems arise when things go missing around the house. Things I need. Just the other day I was searching for my self-esteem and found it in the crapper. And someone hid my feelings of worthiness behind my daughter's eyes. (A fine enough place for them to roost, but I need some of my own so she's not responsible for them.) To add insult to injury, this morning I tripped over a fresh batch of I'm-Not-Good-Enough as I stumbled out of bed."

But sometimes, withdrawing can help each of us to care for ourselves as only we are able to. No one knows exactly how and what you need to be Loving Yo'Self as fellow MS blogger, Merelyme, discussed recently as part of the Love-in she has been hosting.

"The first element of self-love I wish to discuss is taking care of ourselves emotionally.

How can we show love for our emotional selves?

For those of us who have mood disorders, this is a big deal. For me there exists a bad feedback loop when I get caught up in depression. The depression itself causes you to not take care of yourself and to resign yourself to doing things which are not so mentally healthy. And these actions or sometimes lack of actions for doing mentally healthy things...causes the depression to linger even more."

In my experience, this is so very true. As you may know, patients with Multiple Sclerosis often experience depression of varying levels. For me, depression introduced itself during college (and most probably earlier in my childhood but that I didn't know how to express my emotions or understand them back then.) At first the physician at the campus clinic labeled me with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which made sense as I had only ever lived in the big open skies and sunny air of Oklahoma and Texas. That first winter in Bloomington, Indiana, was truly gray and dark and cold and shut-in. At IU even all the buildings are made of gray limestone which match the gray skies which were often full of heavy precipitation blowing from across the northward great lakes. So a brief round of anti-depressant was ordered and which seemed to help just a bit. But over time, it became apparent that SAD was not to blame for the cyclical, clinical depression which hit years before MS.

Another fellow MS blogger, Shirl, referenced the same post of Merelyme's just today in Love and Self-Worth. I agree whole-heartedly with Shirl that persons do not need to be dealing with depression to appreciate the discussions occuring over at Merelyme's place. I like what Shirl had to say:

However, when I say the word 'depression', I know it can mean two things. For the most unfortunate ones suffering clinical or cyclical depression with a capital D, my heart goes out to you. I know you cannot always 'work' your way out of it by simply choosing the correct activities; believing those that say they love you; spending time with the right people - those that increase your confidence rather than destroy it. Although a certain amount of these strategies do help once the positive frame of mind begins to peep through the overwhelming gloom.

My own 'depression' is more like a bad day or two or three. It is not easy to live through BUT coping mechanisms aways bring me through. That, and the unquestioning love of Pete. Merelyme's feature caused me to stop and think about my own ways of getting through each day with positive, fulfilling activities and relationships. Please read it.

To the number of other MS bloggers who have been struggling with depression recently (myself included, and I know you are out there) please know that support is abundant and often talking/writing about it helps to loosen its' grip on your soul.

Only recently did I decide to open myself up in a more personal way and join the community of MS bloggers. And what a community I have found. [You health policy wonk guys are nice too, but this is different.]

To those dealing with MS and its' related difficulties out there in the blogosphere, and for whom I might be able to use my knowledge to assistance, please don't hesitatate to contact me. I'm here for you (as well as myself.)


  1. There was a time I was too embarrassed to admit I suffer from depression. I feared letting people who look up to me as being strong see me as being weak. That came to a head when depression and the depression of living with severe pain meet at the same time.

    Not realizing it at the time, but my blog entry back in July was actually my suicide entry. By the grace and mercy of God, I was not successful. Depression is dangerous when we loose focus, as I did in July.

    The people who left comments on that post and those that emailed me were angels coming to my defense. To die by my own hands is the last thing I would want to do, but depression at the time took control, but God took it back because I am still here.

    It is nice to have a community if MS bloggers because for me I know I am not alone in the battles I fight living with MS. I also receive strength to continue the fight.

  2. Its funny, I posted twice this week about my own depression. One on saturday and one tonight. Great message tonight.

    Thanks. Jim

  3. Lisa,

    My brain get twisted, therefore my words get twisted at times. When I comment please over look my mistakes :)

    I like your blog, as I continue on my quest to read other MS blogs besides the ones I read on a daily basis. My Peolple living with MS blog link will increase...I added yours today.

  4. In a world where I am infinitely accessible and obtusely connected ... I want to be alone every so often to sulk. I don't think it's depression or fatigue ... I just want to be alone and quiet some times.

  5. Thanks for the mention, Lisa. I have also linked back to this post.

    I agree mdmhvonpa, we all need time out - it is, perhaps, not adhering to that call that leads, eventually, to the body screaming for rest in terms of both fatigue and depression.

    Whatever, the causes, whatever the outcomes, let's all be here for each other. No one need ever be alone in this global age - that need not be a hinderance to good mental health.

    It can stop you getting outdoors though! I must go...

  6. Oh, I simply love the sharing going on here. For me, if I don't have some significant daily quiet time to myself, my irritability and depressive levels begin to rise. My brother was always one who did not like to be alone; he needed to be around people to thrive.

    I need to be alone often to thrive. It is only when I desire others to reach out TO ME which I begin to feel lonely. Depression is odd...during these lonely episodes, my mind doesn't step in and create a desire for me to reach out. I have to be mindful of my own tendencies to be able to watch out for myself.

    Oh, and Blinders Off, don't fret about words or thoughts getting jumbled. It's the meaning coming through which is important.

  7. Lisa, maybe it's the season, too. I've been feeling "blue" as well. I pause at using "depression" because I think of the Big-D in the clinical sense. I have a dear friend with a terminal brain tumor who's caught up in the Big-D much more than me. But I'm blue, down in the dumps, and dying for Spring!

    Thanks for sharing this here and for making it not so taboo to discuss!

    Great new pic on the top left btw!

  8. Thanks for the post, and timely as well as I've been thinking about it recently.
    "I need to be alone often to thrive. It is only when I desire others to reach out TO ME which I begin to feel lonely." Wow. That must have been quite a revelation.


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