Setaú úta (setauuta) wrote,
Setaú úta

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Things not to say to someone with a mental illness

So, I understand that not everyone knows how to handle someone with a mental illness, rather than a physical one. It's not something a lot of people talk about, and there's not really a definitive "better" for mental illness - it's not like the flu. So, I'm willing to cut people some slack.

Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor, who's the one prescribing me anti-depressants. My doctor is pretty awesome, as I've previously mentioned, and his medical assistant, bless her heart, is a doll. (You just know this is going to be interesting, right? "Bless her heart" AND calling her a doll? Oy.) However, I don't think she has much experience with patients who come in with a mental illness. As she's checking me in, getting my vitals etc., she verifies that the appointment is a follow up for depression. I nod, and she responds with "So, how's that going for you?"

Blink. Blink blink.

There's really no good way to answer that. "Oh, great, thanks!" "Pretty horribly, thanks for bringing it up!" I think I just got out an "Uh, OK," before I had to focus on not laughing in her face.

Later, as she was taking my blood pressure, she asked me how long I'd been dealing with depression, and I told her since high school. "And there's no, like, reason for it or anything?"

This one, I admit, kinda made me mad. Depression - actual, clinical depression - isn't something that comes on because of a death in the family or something. That can cause a depressive episode, sure, and it ends up as a valley in the ever-changing landscape of the mind, but it doesn't flat "cause" depression. It's like asking someone what caused their asthma. There may have been a trigger for an attack, but those are the attacks, not the underlying disease.

It was a little harder to laugh that one off, but it made me realize just how hard it is for people to see mental illness as an actual illness. It's one thing if you've got the flu - people know how to take care of their body (or at least, know that their body needs to be taken care of) to make the symptoms go away, and know that the disease will run its course and get out of their system. Depression? Anxiety? Not so much. It feels like all we're doing is treating the symptoms, sometimes, and hoping to suppress an attack.

To keep anyone from worrying, I am doing a bit better. Meds and therapy are helping, and yes, I'm keeping up with both. I think I need to remind myself, though, that some days I'm going to feel like I'm just treading water, and some days I'm going to feel like I'm going under completely, but in the end, I'm just learning how to swim. I'm probably not ever going to get out of the water, but at least I'll be able to swim through it.

(Apologies to anyone who wants to leave a comment anonymously - I had to turn that off, as I was getting more spam comments than anyone should have to deal with. Damned spammers, ruining it for everyone again.)
Tags: depression, just keep swimming
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