Monday, February 1, 2010

You'd Be Depressed, Too

There's been this nagging thought in the back of my mind for a while that I'm depressed. I've finally let that thought out, to the forefront of my mind, to get some analysis in the light of day. Yes, I am. I find little pleasure in things that I used to enjoy, my appetite has changed (increased, unfortunately, so I'm depressed about putting on weight), sleeping habits have changed so I wake up much earlier than I need to so I can lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, and, worst of all from my perspective, my ability to focus and concentrate has really taken a hit. So much so that it affects my ability to accomplish thoughtful work for work.

And, who wouldn't be depressed with all that's gone here in the Cranky and Skip household over the last 2 months, and even before? Skip's huge bedsore, the bone infection resulting from it, 5-1/2 weeks in the hospital, a whole new "paradigm of caregiving," (if I may be so bold to call it that, since the routines in our day have changed dramatically with Skip bedbound), and separation in the form of hospitalization then separate beds and Skip confined to the bedroom all day long (not a comfortable spot to hang out in for me). And then there's the concerns about the future. What will Skip be capable of physically when she is no longer required to spend almost all her time in bed? Will this bed confinement cause a permanent dimunition in physical ability that makes it even harder for us to get out and about, both for quick trips out for dinner/shopping and longer travel for vacations?

Well, to be quite honest, the Cranky of 10 or even 5 years ago wouldn't have been depressed about this. She would have looked at this as one more challenge in the long continuum of life lived with MS. She would have done all the things I'm doing today, like take care of Skip day in and day out, work her job, do all the tasks required to maintain the household. But without the overarching depression I feel every day.

The Cranky then had something I don't have too much of anymore: resilience. The ability to roll with the punches, to bounce back from setbacks. I think the unending demands of caregiving, the continuous grieving with each new physical loss to the inexorable progression of MS, the growing isolation have all eaten away at the resilience I counted on to help me deal with our life.

Hmmmm, I wonder if there's a way to rebuild resilience?


awb said...

As someone who has dealt with depression their whole life, I look at what you've been through, and are going through presently, and I think it's about time! I don't know that it's a lose of resilience, as much as it is the inevitable reaction of cause and effect. this is depressing stuff, but you can get on top of it again. Take care of yourself,


zoomdoggies said...

It's hard to roll and bounce back when the punches and setbacks come in such quick succession. You're right, Cranky. I'd be depressed, too. The kind of depressed that comes from dealing with an overwhelming situation. It's hard to be resilient when you never get time to recover from the latest setback before the next one comes along.

As Skip continues to heal, things will get better for you than they are now. No way to say how much better, or for how long, but you never can, really, can you? Might as well hope.

Anonymous said...

Well, I can speak from experience. The first signs are disinterest and apathy. You sound burned out Cranky. I don't know your family well enough, but do you think you can take a little time off to refresh your body and mind?

Cranky said...

Andy - thanks, it is depressing stuff.

Zoom - so true, the lack of recovery time before the next issue hits is definitely a huge contributor to the problem.

Rain - burn out ... based on what I've read about it, I've got it. Hard to get time off, but I do have a 2-day business trip in 2 weeks that I hope will give me a bit of a break from caregiving.

upstater said...

Hi Cranky,
For what it is worth, I'm not particularly new agey but a friend convinced me that I should take a short course in mindfulness meditation. It is being taught by people who trained at UMass-Med School. It has been really good--surprisingly so given my initial reluctance and skepticism. The peer reviewed data that support its efficacy are robust and I've found it quite helpful. I'm not sure how close you are to Boston but here is a link.

Cranky said...

Upstater - thanks for your note about the mindfulness meditation course. I took a look at the materials and I'm interested. The next series of orientations occurs between 3/31 and 4/21, so I will look to attend one.

Susan said...

Hi Cranky,

I just found your blog and started following you as I started my own caregiving blog. I feel for you deeply. I have tons of respect for what you do day in and day out - who wouldn't be depressed indeed! As a side note I was recently diagnosed with arthritis, but before I had all the proper testing done, based soley on symptoms, I thought that I had MS. Just the briefest glimpse into that world scared the hell out of me! I can only scratch the surface of what you're going through. My story is a bit different. I have a two sons, one who has hemophilia. The first ten years were rough, but as he got older, he's pretty much taken the reins of his self-care and even mentoring younger kids. We are very proud. BUT, my Mother is the main issue. She is not as impaired as Skip is but has multiple complications from diabetes and now faces a leg amputation. After my Father died 5 yrs. ago, it fell to me to help her out, first long distance, then almost 2 yrs. ago she moved to a retirement place w/nursing near by. She's still in her own apt. but I dont' think it'll be for long. I'll explain more of this on my blog, but I just wanted to introduce myself. My brother does JACK, barely even calls, so I feel very alone in this. Thankfully I do get some support from the facility where she lives, but I still have so much to deal with - not as much as you, so I bow quite deeply to you! Here is my link in case you're interested.

Hang in there and I really hope you can take a couple days off, you'll be amazed how it can recharge you. I hope the meditation works for you too! Take care of yourself, Susan

Diane J Standiford said...

Easy to be depressed right now. I have been through so much with my partner and my health over the years, she gets very depressed--overwhelmed by nonstop pain/fear, I don't know why I never sink that low, but I do sink, especially lately and thinking about money/future. Everybody finds their own way back. You will find yours. I've acted for so long, all my life, that everthing is fine---I just fall right into that acting gig and it has gotten me through; I guess. (( ))

Cranky said...

Susan - thanks for introducing yourself. It sounds like you have a lot to deal with yourself. Thanks for the compliments. I do a lot, yes, but there are lots of others out there who have much to handle; and I don't always do such a great job of dealing with it all.

Diane - putting on the good face can take a lot of energy itself. But I see what you're saying ... if you act like it's all okay, you can also believe that it's all okay. I worry now about money and the future, too. With the health hits Skip has taken and a growing awareness of how expensive retirement will be, I think I am going to be working for a long, long time!

steve said...

I find that uncertainty is the enemy of resilience. When I don't know what's coming next, it's harder for me to bounce back. In the end, not getting up just leaves me even less prepared for the next blow.

Even cowgirls get the blues.

Cranky said...

Steve - Uncertainty ... ya, got a lot of that nowadays. What will the future bring us?

And, Sissy Hankshaw Gitchie rules! I love that book.