Sunday, June 22, 2008

The big hit of depression

There are so many topics I want to cover in this little world of mine--my blog. Perhaps one that keeps coming to me is depression. It amazes me that society largely pokes fun at this, or ignores it, when it is so serious. So here I will put my story and my thoughts.

Back in November '07, I had an MS exacerbation which was treated, as usual, with oral steroids. In the past this treatment, though causing somewhat of an emotional roller coaster, gave me a time of uplifting--a brief period of time when my MS improved and I was inclined to clean the entire house.

But this time was different. Yes, I felt physically stronger. But rather than wanting to clean the house, I wanted to read my book. Then when I was done with the steroids, something else happened. I went into a downward emotional spiral. No one knew this but me, because I was being such a great actress. In fact, others probably thought I was happier than ever. When not around people I would cry--everywhere--to and from work--everywhere. I couldn't eat--looking at a plate of food was just not appealing. And each day seemed so very long; I wondered how I would make it through each one. And I wondered when this would end because it was linked to the steroids. It didn't end--it kept going.

Finally after a miserable day of skiing where I seemed like the happiest person on the planet to everyone around me, I went back to the hotel room alone, and cried, and cried, and cried. I wondered what I would say if Pastor Jim asked me "How are you?" I knew I was not well--I finally called my younger brother for advise. He said to call my doctor first thing on Monday. My doctor and I talked on Thursday.

Of course, I went on anti-depressants. They took awhile to work. I remember after 2 days on them, I pulled into my garage and thought maybe I should just end everything, but then reconsidered, thinking I'd give this medicine a few more days. And it did work. I did feel better. I then went through a period of feeling fragile and that ended. It was the medicine, but it was also church. I went to church A LOT. At church I felt at peace, like something was holding me like a baby. I also had wonderful family and friends--once people knew what was happening, they were so helpful. My mentor asked what I was doing for me--I couldn't answer that question. So I sought help. During this time, my pastor came to meet me. I wonder what he thought. I was just starting to get better. I was very much out of reality when we met. He wanted to hear about my faith journey. What? All I knew at that point was that God was holding me at church. Maybe another time I'll write on my faith journey. I do wonder what he thought of me then, when I felt lost and helpless in a way, and he couldn't help.

So, to end this posting, as I said, I did get better. And then there are times, often, when I forget to take my medicine. And then the depression comes back and hits me a bit. And then I wonder why I have to rely on these pills to feel like myself. Today I'm on them--3 days in a row. I was struggling before that. I struggle a bit now. It's a bad MS day and even on the medication, I may cry. But I know that I'm getting better again--that this recovery is from something far less severe than the initial hit. And I cannot wait to be happy most of the time again.

God, please bring that sense of happiness back to my life in a more consistent manner.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Merging of "clubs"

It was 7:20 pm, too late to start on a real bikeride, or given that it was me, was it too late? Off I went. My thought was that, if I really could find some way to go faster on the uphill parts, I could cut the 90 minute ride and make it home before dark! In Parker, it seems I go either all uphill or downhill for half the ride, and then the reverse for the second half. So this ride started with the uphill part. I'm digressing from the whole point of this writing.

Throughout this ride, "worlds" that have been an integral part of my life came and went, merging at times so the "clubs/teams" where I've belonged were all there. So, starting in high school (and I was thinking that while I was riding, there were some summer intervals taking place at Edora Park in "Ft. Fun" ie Ft. Collins), going up hill after hill was like the intervals I did so long ago at Edora Park, so I was feeling a part of that interval club again, with Coach Luckasen pushing us by saying "someone has to win" and Coach Martin on the flat parts yelling calmly "Maintain." Shifting to college, one hill clearly reminded me of the "YBF" (your best friend) hill at Kenyon--I looked up and thought "what was I thinking about going fast up all these hills?" Going downhill, I was actually thinking I could have "toasted" Coach Gomez, or at least maybe cut him off or something. And then there's Charlie the ski coach, who never has gone, for me, by the name "Coach," but he is one, and in doing this ride, I thought of him telling me last year I needed to come to the handcycle festival. I did--I made it .75 mles from the end of an uphill ride (further than I ever expected), but the festival is coming again and this time I want to make it the whole way--only about 3 weeks of training left!

So although I was alone, all these worlds were merging at different points along with the people who were part of the worlds. There was a feeling of the "clubs" coming together, and that my athletic mindset will never be gone, and therefore, nor will those worlds. Of course, that athletic mindset may not be the smartest thing, but I broke a sweat and got out of breath and that hasn't been possible for me with MS for a long time. And being that the athletic mindset for me yields this competitive factor of me against the clock, I did make it back before dark--the 90 minute ride was shortened to 65 minutes. Umm...I was probably too competitive on the downhill parts and was hoping not to splat all over the road and land in the hospital.

And where does faith fit into all of this? I think God was there for all of this--at what level, I do not know. It may be that God knew this ride was a bit unsafe at dusk and somehow, I was kept safe during it. Maybe it was in the merging of worlds. I don't think I'll know the answer to that one, except that God was there.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Child of God

"And Jesus got up and followed him, with his disciples. Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrahages for 12 years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, If I touch his cloak, I will be made well. Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, 'Take heart daughter; your faith has made you well.' And instantly the woman was made well." (Matthew 9:20-22)

This was the gospel reading for today. The sermon that went along with it was intriguing and made me think of my life, where I'm most comfortable, where I belong, and where I always belong, as a child of God. But back to where we belong--so where we are most comfortable. Of course, these days I feel most comfortable among people with disabilities, but a subset of those--those who are interested in athletics, upbeat, and like to have fun. The handcycling festival in the mountains is coming up and I am so excited about that--to see all my buddies again, be athletically challenged, laugh, and overall, have fun. And then there's the group where I guess I should feel like I belong but I don't; and that group would be the MS group. I'm a part of that group because I have MS; I don't really fit that group because my MS is so different. Study after study comes that just doesn't seem to fit me, and then I tend to get frustrated. But maybe I want to be my own MS club. Regardless of all the places where I feel most comfortable; most comfortable among those people where I feel I belong, there is a fact. As a child of God, I know that God cares for me, so even if I am somewhere different, not feeling that I belong, God will always care for me. This reading then seems less about Jesus healing the sick, then about being a child of God.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

What pain?

This is a somewhat interesting time for me. I was having some trouble with my legs excessively jumping at night, and then feeling very achy the next morning. And every time I would get up, my legs wiuld just shake--that is called clonus. I called my doc and he put me on a strange taper dose of steroids, because I told him this did feel like a flare, kind of, but not completely.

Steroids are just odd and make me think what kind of pain do I want? On steroids, nothing really tastes good; I get constant esophagus burning and use milk for that; emotions are right on the surface. So there's those "steroid pains." But the steroids take other pains away. No more legs jumping at night (of course, steroids also make me wake up at night), no more achy legs, not as much clonus. Whenever I am on steroids I wake up in the morning, lie there, and think "Huh, so this is what it is like for other people." My legs are calm--they aren't jumping and they don't hurt.

I'm only on these steroids for a brief time--well, actually 2 weeks because the dosage is lower. But it makes me think of which pains and annoyances are more important. Hopefully this round of medicine will make some of these symptoms go away.

Time for bed!