Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting Positive Reinforcement

A few days ago, when I wrote the post, Depression Behavior: Personal Hygiene, I was gratified to get such positive comments. And it made me realize how little positive enforcement I received from five different psychiatrists and some of my relatives and friends during a decade of severe depressive episodes.

I have always prided myself on the self-discipline I exercised, and the hard work it took to try and achieve a high level of "normalcy" for my husband and son during these depressive episodes. In addition, I worked so hard to achieve wellness, that even though I wasn't initially successful, I felt I should have received positive reinforcement for my efforts.

Instead, I felt abandoned by so many people--a number of whom had previously been near and dear to me. They made it quite clear that they considered me a failure because I couldn't "cure" myself. And others tried to take advantage of my illness for reasons only they can understand.

Yet, despite their negativity and bad behavior, I tried my very best to maintain my self-esteem, which has always been high. Despite healers who didn't heal, charlatans who pretended they could help me, but couldn't, and friends and relatives who tired of my disappearance from sight for months on end or others who felt I was self-absorbed because it took all of my energy just to stay alive, I survived, and now flourish.

Yet, a part of me is still angry and disappointed for the way I was treated for so long. So, you can't imagine how good it felt to receive praise from my fellow bloggers. I would like to thank Naturalgal, KJ, Jazz, PJ, Catatonic Kid, and Nancie for commenting on this post. Every time I reread what you wrote, I smile!

8 comments:

Annie said...

Susan, It seems that you are purging yourself of the justified anger toward those who were not supportive. I agree with you that there is so much support and positives that come our way in this blogging format. I hear growth and wellness in each of your posts. I learn from your writing and wish you have more of the healing messages come your way. Peace Annie

P.J. said...

Susan,

I think you are one of the bravest, most intelligent, honest women I know. I have a lot of respect for you. We may not share the same opinion on some things, but I love that you are able to share information in such a well organized, easy to read, informative manner. I also love that underneath your many "facts" posts, you sometimes show your emotional side. That's probably what I appreciate most. I consider you to be a strong woman - and that's a compliment!!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Annie,
Thank you so much. I'm glad you commented again so soon after your comment on my Bipolar II post. I re-read what I'd written to you and realized that I hadn't responded to the support you gave me about my "bad" psychiatrists.

But you were right then, and right now. I am purging myself of the anger I have felt. I do feel I received so much bad advice, and I feel so lucky to have survived it.

While I am a survivor by nature, between the medication's effect on me, the negativity of the bipolar label, and the bad advice, there were times when I doubted I could survive for one for day.

And what compounded it all, is that whenever I said, "Clearly you see I'm getting worse, not better," none of my doctors ever acknowledged that their treatment was to blame. Instead, they all blamed the illness.

What they actually said was, "Untreated depression makes you feel worse, and your illness wasn't treated for 25 years." What they wouldn't say was, "Improper medication can also worsen your condition."

Thus, I was left without hope. And since I knew they weren't hopeful to begin with, and I had also tried all the alternative medicine alternatives...to no avail...there was truly nowhere to turn.

So I did what I have always done in a crisis, which is to find the strength within as well as from my husband and mother (now deceased), and banked on the fact that my love for my son was so strong that I would never commit suicide.

Now I can look back on all of this with amazement--and yes, anger as well. But, at the time it was truly horrific.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear PJ,
Thanks so very much! If I was smiling before, I'm beaming right now!

Susan

Bumps Stump said...

Susan . . .

Your post is outstanding and sure to help many people.

The diagnosis "Bi-Polar" is often misunderstood and that sometimes causes regretable reactions.

You are to be congradulated as you live your way through them.

Onward and upward.

You now know there are a lot of understanding and supportive people out there.

Your blogging is a great way to reach them.

Thank you.

Dixon

discoverandrecover said...

Susan,

What I appreciate the most about you is how hard you work - your dedication throughout your suffering - to find answers....

You are unrellenting - you read and research....and you simply never give up....

You find the things that work for you, and you incorporate them into your life - you practice what you find....

As if all that weren't impressive enough - you share these very special findings - in an effort to help others....

I would just like to say "Thank You!!!"

Duane

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Bumps Stump,
Welcome to my blog, and thanks so much for your lovely comment. I so appreciate it.

I love your photo and will have to stop by one of your blogs soon!

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Duane,
Thank you so very much. Ever since I've "known" you, you've been wonderfully supportive of the work I'm doing, and I can't thank you enough.

Warmly,

Susan