Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fighting on multiple fronts

As I mentioned in my first post, in addition to Major Depression, I also have Cerebral Palsy. I am mostly mobile, but feel much safer using a walker.  Today seems like a good day to talk about when medical and psychological diagnoses decide to stake claims on the same person.  
Every three months or so, I get Botox injections for the CP. It works by fully relaxing the muscle, then mildly paralyzing it.  It starts to wear off after a few weeks, and then I get about a month or two of "normal" usage before it starts tightening up again, and it's time for more shots.  To give you an idea of the difference between cosmetic and therapeutic botox, my in-depth research, aka Google, tells me that for crow's feet, one injection averages 10 units of Botulinium Toxin Type A.  (I sound so smart!) For my CP, I get 300 units, divided among 8 injections, give or take.  The side effects are pretty brutal for about the first three days.  I got my shots this morning, so if you're going to throw things my way, throw soft things.  Thank you.
It is certainly not uncommon for a person with a physical disability to also have a mental health diagnosis.  It makes sense, actually.  We experience the world differently, and are exposed to a lot of things our non-disabled counterparts are not.  There's also an alarmingly high prevalence of abuse that happens to people with any sort of disability, but that's a whole different post.  
So this particular post deals with managing a mental health diagnosis and a physical diagnosis at the same time.  The challenges are the same as for a person dealing with one or the other, with more thrown in. To keep life interesting.  For example: I know that something that really helps me when my Depression is bad is to draw.  The Cerebral Palsy, however, may have other plans.  I may not be able to hold a pencil, may not feel like sitting up at my desk, or may be too tired from not having slept the two nights before because the CP felt like being nocturnal. This is why it's so important to have as many things at my disposal as possible that can help with how I feel.  Maybe drawing with a pencil isn't going to happen, but I can take out my tablet, and use a drawing app in whatever position feels most comfortable.  Maybe I can use my equipment to get myself outside.  My shower is accessible for me, and taking a shower is one of my favorite ways to help myself when I am having symptoms of Depression.  
It may not be the CP holding me back from managing the Depression.  They two seem to have a mutual understanding, and take turns.  Gee, how considerate. /sarcasm font.  So when the Depression is making it hard for me to do what I need for the CP, the activities may be different, but the strategy is not: do what I can.  Focus on what makes me feel better, not worse.  I may feel better physically after a walk outside, but the Depression zaps both my energy, and my drive.  The thought of putting on shoes, finding my keys, and going feels like I might as well try to scale the Empire State Building.  But I can still get myself to open the windows, and drink a big glass of water.  Is that going to solve everything? Of course not! I have Depression and CP! But it helps turn down the volume on that nagging voice inside me that tells me I can't. Can't fight, can't succeed, can't do just about anything.  
Keep It Simple, Stupid.  But this time, I'm not the stupid one.  My Depression especially loves to complicate things for me until I feel paralyzed.  Well maybe that's not the right word for a blogger with Cerebral Palsy, but you know what I mean right? So let's make the acronym for ourselves Keep It Simple, Sane.  Sane and simple.  Find what makes sense for you without overcomplicating it.  Find what you can do, and focus on it.  Make lists.  Keep them handy.  I'll write entries in the future about these, but for now, let's keep it simple and sane.  Remember that small successes are just as important as big successes, maybe even more so.  The small ones remind us that we're capable.  We're creative.  We're resourceful.  Take that, Depression.  Okay, time for crackers and ginger ale.  
Be well.

1 comment:

  1. As a former colleague and more so as a friend, I am very proud of this woman for being so courageous and taking the risks involved in being so vulnerable in the continued pursuit in her life to help others cope with their lives more effectively!! I couldn't be happier that you are writing this blog and posting authentically, as always, as it is the only way you know how to be. Sharing from your wealth of professional and personal experiences is tremendous, and is to be applauded. I'm sure your words will assist many in getting the help they need and learning how to better care for themselves in the long-run....because it starts with each one of us loving ourselves enough to do the healthy things that bring us better mental balance and stability. Quoting Elvis Costello, "What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding" ? It makes good sense to me...and for everyone else too!