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First featured site is run by Kimberly Zapata, whose original article ‘A Letter To Those Affected By My Depression’ in ‘The Mighty’ newsletter inspired me to finally start an online blog. She also got me thinking about my own depression and how I handle it.

A Letter To Those Affected By My Depression

I hope that in Sharing this it will encourage people experiencing the same kind of symptoms to talk about it with family and friends. Believe me it’s far more common than you think.

Kimberly’s original site is Sunshine and Spoiled Milk

Also check out The Mighty for articles on believing in the power of stories, the strength of communities and the beauty of the human spirit.

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The Daily Post: Read or Write?

Today’s (or tonight’s as the case may be) is from The Vexing Point and asks;

 WRITING PROMPT #61 – READ OR WRITE?

When I was a child I absolutely ATE books. Couldn’t get enough of them. An avid reader herself, my mother was instrumental in my love of reading, buying me books for Christmas, visiting my school and reading to us there. I read and re-read so many books my parents had a beautiful cedar bookcase made for one of my birthdays which I still have. My various schools had programs to encourage children to read and Mum used to joke ‘But how do you get them to stop?’

Then something changed. I lost the capacity for reading. The books I loved were sitting in the bookcase gathering dust and I had no idea why. It took me quite a while to work it out and in hindsight I really should have known. I was diagnosed with depression and it had taken the pleasure away from me. I actually wasn’t too upset at the depression; I was more horrified that I could no longer read as I used to. I had lost something that was so precious to me, the feeling was almost a type of grief because that world was gone. I had loved Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Crime Novels, and even my university text books were given a place in my study. I was fast becoming a TV addict and I really didn’t like it.

At that point I hadn’t read any of my books for about 6 months, but what I didn’t know was that I wasn’t going to even touch a book for many years.

When I was a child, I used to write all the time. My mother still has a plastic folder with laminated large writing in it, my early attempts at a kiddy novel which has never seen the light of day and never will. When my father got his first computer I would commandeer it whenever his back was turned, which was difficult because a) he worked from home, and b) he had eyes in the back of his head.

I was 11 years old when I won a scholarship to my high school to the delight of my parents. I had done one of my stunning pieces of writing work that came so easily to me, almost as if someone else was writing through me. I was still 11 when I wrote a poem that was published in a literature magazine for adults, a heady moment indeed. Then I was diagnosed with depression, and I wasn’t to write anything for many years.

At this point I’m still depressed, still mired down in the world by the consequences of having poorly controlled type one diabetes for 28 years, but the other day something incredible happened. I woke up. I literally woke up from a sleep that I had been dreaming for a long time, and so I started to try and look after myself by doing many things that I had neglected. I started to blood test more often, and I actually cared about myself for the first time in years. I realised that life had started when I wasn’t looking, that I had believed in the lie I had created for myself, that my achievements and my life was behind me.

Only in the past two weeks have I started to write again, not just a post a week to keep myself happy but to really record the events of my life for myself primarily, but I don’t mind if anyone deigns to read them. I’ve found myself posting things a lot more than I thought I would, I’ve had inspiration from all different aspects of my life and I’m going to run with it. I’m also reading again, not my books just yet but I have time. It’s other people’s blogs that I read, their stories fill me with a rich satisfaction that I haven’t felt for years. I hope that I never lose that feeling again.

So, I can state with complete confidence, it’s both reading and writing for me, there are no in-betweens. That’s just the way I like it.

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Too Soon?.” which asks

Can anything be funny, or are some things off limits?  

I’ve taken my time in responding to this as I found it turned me into a serious, contemplative person and I really don’t like that. Ever. It makes me look back on some of the more poignant situations in my life, the things my dear, darling brain has conveniently wiped from consciousness out of self-preservation. If I was always thinking about the tradgedies I’ve endured my life would be incredibly difficult to lead. So that’s where perspective comes into play…

I am what you may call a person of contradictions, a mixture of complete silliness if something strikes me as funny, but I can easily slip into ‘psychology student mode’ when people need to talk to me & get advice, Or even completely unsolicited advice if it really comes down to it, I’ve learnt through my own experiences that sometimes the situation warrants an air of seriousness and sometimes it means taking the humorous approach and simply running with it.

There are two base emotions which are the parental emotions: Love and Fear. Your motivation is what decides which aspect you’re coming from. I do think one could motivate the other, as in Fear of losing your child because you Love them or Loving someone because you Fear being alone, but when you deconstruct all the emotions you may be experiencing there’s usually the same reason behind it all and I believe it’s self-preservation.

Years of chronic illness have turned me into a bit of a frequent flyer in the Emergency Department, usually at some ungodly hour, and it’s been my mother that has been at the forefront of that kind of operation for going on 30 years now. She has a wicked sense of humour, is very quick-thinking and can drop a doctor with sarcasm at 20 paces… and that’s where I get my sense of humour. When I developed type one diabetes my immune system had a complete and utter breakdown, hence the visits to many specialists, GP’s, hospital wards, and as I said, (our favourite) the emergency, and it takes a toll. As one blogger put in a comment in Mary Gelpi’s hysterical page about dealing with chronic illness (she’s funnier than I am too) 25 Pills a Day:

Bethany writes;

“I’m on a first name basis with all the employees at my local pharmacy, my nightstand is groaning with the number of prescription bottles on it and the CT scan crew at the hospital gave me a frequent customer punch card as a joke”

I always get a dramatic response when in the ED especially, I kind of get Goldstar reservations to the nearest vacant room. Whispers float past me such as “Wow she’s been diabetic for 28 years with poorly-controlled sugar levels and she’s not dead’, or ‘Let’s write down what she doesn’t have it will save time’ or even ‘Triage? That’s for all the normal people! My god man she has every single complication, take a photo before she drops dead on us!’ This can be fairly disheartening when your life is in the hands of medical people who aren’t too sure of what they can do for you and they know you know it. It’s a bit like having a doctor when you’re not having a doctor. I try to prompt them every once and a while when they get stuck but it’s just not the same coming from me really. I can’t actually blame them for their frustration as I’m always complicated to deal with, and if you’re presented with me in an emergency you’re simply not going to get things right straight away. Usually there’s some fairly decent waiting time so Mum and I will play such immortal games as ‘Speculation: How Much Radiation Can One Woman Take?’ or ‘The Most Inappropriate Comment Awards’.

The point is that I had to see the funny side of everything I’d gone through and so did my mum… if we hadn’t I think that getting through this would have been impossible. Yes, it’s a defence mechanism, designed to deflect the emotions of dealing with negative situations and at the moment it’s all I have to protect me. I can’t change the fact that I have diabetes and pretty much all the complications involved, but I can change how I deal with it. A sense of humour is essential to my survival. Plus it helps while away the time

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Welcome to the Real Reason Behind the Posts….

This name of this page I will explain later on, however I feel there is something else that I need to address first. Lately I have been stumbling across many people through electronic community who have great problems like myself. For them, the medium of a blog (be they professionals or everyday folk like me) is the way to express themselves and sort through all the rubbish, like an online therapy session. This is my reason too; it’s now become a necessary part of my own mental health. The way I have coped is no longer enough to get me where I feel I need to go, so this page starts its rather auspicious beginnings as my whinge fest!

This page by far has been the hardest to begin, I’ve put it off and off by cleverly designed tactics I’ve been making up so that I can justify building an entire website. Setting up the pages, picking out pretty colours and fonts, studying html, reading other people’s blogs so as to steal ideas, and following webpage designers into their homes and threatening to harm their children if they didn’t cooperate with me and tell me all their secrets (there’s really nothing I won’t do to get ahead). However, the entire reason behind doing this in the first place was for me to discuss becoming a Diabetic, and living with Type 1 Diabetes…. and all its subsequent complications & that’s where the nasty bit starts.

I realised that it’s not writing about it that is most difficult, it’s making it public. I’ve learned to keep things secret over the years as I’ve lost friends over this & if I have then other people dealing with a chronic illness have as well. Anyone who says that they weren’t my friends in the first place can quite simply go and jump. You lose friends over something even trivial and see how you feel. You face the lonely journey through life without good friends and get the taste of isolation. I am who I am, so have never really changed myself to make other people feel ‘more comfortable’ but when it comes to Diabetes, that is something I cannot change. I think the worst thing anybody has ever said to me on that subject is ‘You have Diabetes? Well that’s easy nowadays, you just have a few injections a day and that’s it isn’t it?’. I had to be physically restrained from launching myself at their throat, and that’s pretty difficult as I’m about 6 feet. I got them in the end though, spending nearly 3 minutes on the throat area, and several more on vigorous kicking.

I am fairly unapologetic now about my life and how I live it but at the time words like that really hurt. I wanted understanding and someone to say ‘it’s not your fault’. Maybe I should tell myself instead.

So Starteth the Saga…