Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Struggles

This post has nothing to do with art.

It has to do with my anxiety and depression, as well as my absence from the online community as of late. I've been there, lurking in the shadows on some days, but for the most part I haven't felt like watching YouTube videos, doing any art, catching online streams, uploading YouTube videos of my own, or even adding any photos to my Instagram. The fact that I accomplished any of those things at all over the past few months is a win.

I was in the hospital last August the 7th to September the 7th. I was undergoing electroconvulsive therapy, but I left the hospital when it became apparent that my mother was on the verge of passing away. She died six days later.

The ECT isn't like it is portrayed in the movies and it should be considered a valid option for those that are struggling. The hospital I was in had an ECT department that was separate from its psych ward, which is where I stayed the rest of the time. The ECT department and its staff was top notch. I can't say the same for the regular psych ward and its staff.

Let's just say that the psych wards at Harbourview leave a lot to be desired, especially in terms of the professionalism of the staff, making patients feel safe and welcome, and treating patients as if they are people rather than a source of income. It would be my recommendation that people go anywhere else, or only receive ECT there through an outpatient basis if that is the only option, based on my experience. (Note: I'm sure for others it has been a positive experience, but that was not how it was in my case.)

Feeling depressed and suicidal became a secondary focus as I tried to work through the grief over my mother's passing. I'm sorry to say that it hasn't remained secondary.

My Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner says that I have treatment-resistant depression and social anxiety. Translation: medications and other therapies aren't effective. I have tried and failed multiple medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other forms of group therapy. At the present moment I feel as if I am simply existing. I am depressed, afraid to go outside of my bedroom, and thinking that everything would be better off if I just killed myself.

The good news is that my P-Nurse isn't giving up. She recently took me off of a couple of medications and has prescribed me newer meds in the hope that they will work where others have fizzled out. Electroconvulsive therapy is probably my next step after that, though I am struggling to allow a repeat of past experiences.

I've been trying to do art in an effort to get myself to do something, anything, and my P-Nurse has encouraged me to read. Every day is a struggle and I don't think the people that don't face the challenges of mental illness quite understand that. Platitudes, as much as they are passed around on social media like an STI, do not work. In fact, often times they serve to only alienate us further.

The purpose of this post isn't to gain sympathy or to educate anyone on mental illness and its various treatments. This is simply my way of explaining my absence to those people that may be missing my presence and wondering what rock I'm hiding under. I'm trying to be optimistic and struggling, but I know that my mother would want me to keep moving towards getting better. Most days I don't even know if getting better is possible.

I've had happy mail ready to go out for over a month but I can't get myself to the post office to get it sent off. Please know that I haven't forgotten those of you that sent me happy mail - it will be heading your way as soon as I can gather the motivation to get some things done.

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