Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bipolar Wellness Walker (Part 3)

Again, I'm writing about times past...

At the time of these debilitating depressions, I often thought of ways to try and feel better. Although it's difficult for people who have never experienced a depressive episode to understand, it's the most horrific experience to have so little energy that you can barely get out of bed.

And yet, once the depression is over--and if you cycle into a hypomania--it's almost impossible to imagine ever feeling so lifeless.

Still, at the time of these depressions, I used to come up with ideas for items or support services that would help me. In a debilitating depression, I knew it was very important for me to sit outside in the sun. And I often would do that...just go outside (I live in Los Angeles where the weather is sunny most of the year) and at the very least, just sit in a chair and feel the sun on my face.

I also knew that exercise is important--even if I couldn't do it. During a depression, I wondered why we bipolars don't quality for physical therapy. While it would be difficult to allow anyone to touch us (as least that's the way I used to feel), I still knew that I would feel better if someone would help move my extremities.

I also felt we should qualify for electric wheelchairs or scooters. When my mom could no longer walk because of neuropathy caused by diabetes, she qualified for a wheelchair or scooter, which she refused to get. But I took her to look at them because I felt the mobility would have been healing.

During severe and extended depressions, I often wished that I could sit in an electric wheelchair or scooter and use it to do errands in my neighborhood. What would have been good about it, is that as anyone who uses a wheelchair will tell you, people ignore you.

So...since we who are depressed feel so awful anyway, I think it would be a positive to be ignored. Yet, the value of spending time outdoors, and being able to use the wheelchair to get around the neighborhood would have been a good thing.

Also, I felt it would have been positive to have been treated as "disabled." Now, I know this sounds a bit odd, but think of it. The greatest problem with being depressed is that you feel "dead inside" but for all intents and purposes, look "normal."

When you look "normal" and don't wish to talk to people, it bothers them. However, if they think you're disabled, they'll ignore you, which for us would be a positive thing.

(to be continued)

P.S. I know nothing about the Rising Sun Healing Center (whose logo I'm using as a graphic in the upper left part of the post ). When I Googled sun and healing, it came up and I liked it.



Oh, dear--the last thing you need when depressed is a wheelchair. I mean, talk about increasing your own sense of worthlessness. Wheelchairs are for old people; you're too young and vibrant. And trust me, usually one's depression precedes her/him. They know it before we enter the room. But the LA sun--I envy you. That's great therapy.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Actually, for the most part, I have maintained my sense of self-worth throughout all this. The value of the wheelchair for me was that I needed mobility and independence.

During my decade of severe illness, my son was five to fifteen years old. Other than being ill, I had lots of things I needed/wanted to do with him.

My husband was assuming the lion's share of responsibility and I wanted to help out whenever I could.

So, whatever ideas I came up with had nothing to do with self-esteem. They had everything to do with feeling like I wanted to contribute in any way possible and remain a vital part of our small nuclear family.

When I was depressed--able to function but without much energy to walk or drive--I would have loved the freedom of a scooter. It would have been great to take my son to the park, to the museum, to a friend's house in the neighborhood, to walk our dogs, to drop off the laundry and pick up a few items at a small local market.

My attitude toward this illness is one of problem-solving. My goal has always been to do whatever I need to in order to maintain a sense of "normalcy" for my son and to fully participate in his life and my husband's.


Carla said...

Thank you so much for writing about your experiences with bipolar...especially dealing with this awful recurring despair: depression.

I am enduring an awful depression right now and simply cannot wait to hear WHAT actually got you through it. The suspense and anticipation is killing me:).

take care and I must say you seem so altogether well and calm. Sometime can you share what it is you did to heal and maintain your wellness? I am very interested to know. I, too, am resistant to psychiatric drugs.

Thank you,