||[Sep. 18th, 2009|01:16 am]
Haven't been on in forever; forget how to do LJ-cut; forgive me.|
Stolen from Nyren.
Invisible Illness Week (Sept 14-20)
Basically, an "invisible illness" is loosely defined as any pain condition that can't be seen visually by others. Crohn's Disease is a typical style medical condition that isn't visually obvious to anyone, but I hear tell the cramps and burning and vomiting can all be quite trying when it's 3 or more times per week every week for your whole life. A less typical one might be Autism, where visually you look like everybody else, but internally the high pitched tone a TV makes, the whine of fluorescent lighting, the reek of cologne, the excessive saltiness of all foods, is enough to make each day a full-frontal terrorist attack on all of your senses, which only adds to the daily confusion of a verbal world you have to re-symbolize into pictures in your mind's eye before you can comprehend it. Invisible illness is no joke when you live with one everyday, and you get stigmatized for it by anyone who chooses to believe "it's all in your head".
So, in support of Invisible Illness Awareness Week, I bring you my answers to 30 Things About Invisible Illness - My Story.
1. The illness I live with is: Take your pick: ADHD, depression, bipolar maybe. For all I know mild Asperger's as well. Also known as BASKET OF CRAZY
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: ADHD was third grade, depression happened in fifth grade, junior year of high school (I think? sometime in high school), senior year of college, and last year. Bipolar is an educated guess that the school shrink agrees with, so nothing official (the long-period kind, like months). I've always been incredibly socially awkward and hypersensitive to certain sounds, but the idea that I might be "on the spectrum" as my mom likes to put it only occured to me in the past couple of years.
3. But I had symptoms since: ADHD: ALWAYS duh. Depression/bipolar complex: it keeps cropping up periodically. Social awkwardness: since I could talk.
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: For depression, realizing that sometimes BRAIN CHEMISTRY IS JUST FUCKED UP YO and taking medications doesn't make me lazy or a cop-out. It also doesn't automagically fix things. Also my libido has stopped returning my calls. The other two things have been pretty constant since I was born so there's no real "adjusting" (though my extreme sensitivity to loud noises has gotten easier to control; I love thunder now, but I still HATE HATE HATE balloons).
5. Most people assume: I'm lazy, crazy, rude, loud, over-the-top, awkward, immature.
6. The hardest parts about mornings are: Actually getting out of bed.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: Scrubs is funny, but the only one I watch regularly is House.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: Someone told me I should put "vibrator". Har har.
9. The hardest parts about nights are: Used to be falling asleep, but these days that isn't a problem. Now it's realizing that even though I really want to read just one more chapter or make one more dungeon crawl, I need to go to bed NOW.
10. Each day I take: 20 mg Ritalin (if it's a work day), 300 Wellbutrin, 20 Prozac, 180 Allegra (allergies, unrelated), a multivitamin, and 20 seroquel at night.
11. Regarding alternative treatments: Apparently when I was a kid some doctor convinced mom that I didn't have ADD, I was just allergic to milk. I was supposed to give up dairy products for a week then go in for a blood draw. I don't remember the incident very well, but apparently I told mom in no uncertain terms that the man was a quack. (For those of you who don't know me very well, my drink of choice is milk.)
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I'd be really nice NOT to get randomly depressed and to actually talk to people without them or me becoming incredibly uncomfortable. Then again, it's nice not having to walk around with people knowing how many degrees of fucked-up I am. As for the ADHD, while the lack of focus (especially on boring things) is irritating, I like how I am able to make lightning-fast seemly random connections.
13. Regarding working and career: Getting boring stuff done is, um, kind of the point of a job. Also not coming in to work/school for a week and not telling anyone is generally seen as bad, regardless if you're just watching Ernest Goes to Camp or are curled up in a ball on your bed.
14. People would be surprised to know: Unless I know you very well, body language is a foreign language for me. I can't read people and miss what most other people would pick up.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: I will have depression all my life. Some times will be better than other times, but it is never going to go away.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Maintain a stable relationship for 2+ years (2 years 1 day counts as 2 years =P), live in LA (BUT I'M NOT FUCKING ENJOYING IT)
17. The commercials about my illness: The Cymbalta ones are pretty dead-on.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Being able to drink more than one glass and not get hammered (medication side-effect). I like to enjoy the taste dammit!
19. It was really hard to have to give up: You know those Swiffer commercials where the old mop is trying to woo the housewife back? I'm the mop; the housewife is my libido (I don't know what the swiffer is. I didn't really think this one through).
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Stocking my home bar AND NOT DRINKING IT.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Go to someplace very social and be the star of the party. I read once that sociopaths are very charming because since they have no empathy, they learn to fake it. I think that's bullshit. If I could teach myself how to fake charm I think I would have already.
22. My illness has taught me: A lot of people have actually gone through what I have (minor mental breakdown) and a LOT of people in the department were very understanding and helped me get back on my feet.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: "You're only miserable because you want to be. If you REALLY wanted to be happier you could pull yourself out." I have one thing to say to you: FUCK. YOU.
24. But I love it when people: actually laugh at a joke or quip of mine. I love making people laugh for some reason; I'll say the most ridiculous things to Ryan to get a chuckle.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: Dunno about anything witty, but a true friend will walk through the fire for you and still be there on the other side. Also when I think I can't get through something, I remind myself that Mom gave birth to me without an epidural or pain meds, and if she can do that then I can get through whatever it is.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: For depression, "the worst part is over. It's all uphill from here."
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: How differently my mind works from "most people". Also that there seems to be a whole other plane of communication between people that I am not privy to.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Put together a hand-colored card "We miss you Jill!" and put tiger stripes and sunshines all over it (in college!) and give that and a big bag of chocolate to me because they noticed I hadn't left my dorm in like a week. Also, driving through a fucking snowstorm to come see me.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: Hadn't done this kind of post in a bit.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Slightly more understood.