ME (6 years old): Mommy, I have bad feelings.
MY MOTHER: Those are just 6-year-old feelings. When you’re 7, you won’t feel like that anymore.
But I did.
And still do.
Looking back, I realize I had depression even as a child.
ME (12 years old) school books clasped to my chest as I stand with my nose pressed to the storm door, waiting for the school bus.
DAD: Peni, sit down for awhile. The bus won’t be here for another forty-five minutes.
ME: But I don’t want them to have to wait on me.
Anxiety has also been a lifelong companion of mine. I still can’t BEAR the thought of anyone waiting on me. If I have an appointment, you can be sure I will be at the doctor’s office/restaurant a good 1/2 hour before the appointed time!
So I’ve been born with this chemical imbalance, and only medication can remedy it. I’ve been on medication since the 1990’s (it was only after I was grown and married was I diagnosed), and I shudder to think what meds they would have had me on as a child if my folks had ever realized I had these issues. The meds I took from the ages of 6-19 for epilepsy were bad enough, leaving me so dopey and listless all I ever felt like doing was write. That, in itself, wasn’t such a bad thing but I basically lived in such a stupor my whole developing years.
I don’t want to get too personal on this blog, but blogging seems to be my only creative outlet as I go through this current phase of depression/anxiety. When I’m “on,” I have heard people comment, “You’re always so happy!” And, basically, when all is well, yes I am. I LOVE my quiet, peaceful life with my retired husband. I love going for walks with him and playing cards and rocking on our porch like a little old (?) retired couple.
According to Scientific American, 1 in 6 Americans take a psychiatric drug. Personally, I would have expected the number to be higher. But then I suppose there are millions of diagnosed cases out there that would quickly drive that percentage up.
The stigma of mental illness does seem to be receding, and that’s a good thing. If one needs “mood meds,” it’s no different than needing medication for high blood pressure. It concerns me sometimes, the chemicals we are given, and I feel like we’re lab rats (“let’s try THIS medication and see what happens,”). But if a correct substance and dosage proves to be helpful, I guess that’s all that matters.
I tried twice (following my doctor’s advice) to go off my medication, hence my current situation. I’m feeling better every day but I’m not quite “there” yet. I have a loving, supportive network of family and friends whom I appreciate more than they could ever know.
I’m writing this blog entry to sort of explain the poem I wrote last time; sorry it was such a downer but I was at a very low place, and the post before that wasn’t particularly sunny either, but I just wanted to let you (my handful of readers) know where I presently am, and I thank you for your patience with me. Cheerier posts are definitely on the horizon as I slowly return to a good balance!