Flying Lessons

We all find inspirations that help us make it through our chronic illnesses.

Sometimes that inspiration can be another person suffering through their own chronic illness.

First off, let’s admit the “Someone else has it far worse off than you do.” comment never makes anyone feel better.

In fact what happens is just the opposite.  You feel GUILT.

Let’s not even bother taking a poll here to agree, we real dislike the “I am always cheerful and happy” bloggers and you tubers out there with chronic illnesses.  Don’t even get us started on the “I gave up gluten and now I’m FINE.” people.

We all find people to inspire us and that we come to admire for having ,what my grandmother called, “Grace under pressure.”  They are real people, dealing with illness everyday, and they help inspire us to “keep going.”  They cry. They are afraid. They pick themselves up one more time than they fall down.  They find joy in today, as there might not be a tomorrow.

One of my biggest inspirations is a You Tube family know as “The Frey Life.”

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Peter, Ollie and Mary

Yes, they are religious, but I would never put anyone down for using religion to help them through a terrible illness. Many of my readers I know are Atheists, but also sometimes forget, many of us use our faith to help us through tough times. Faith is something that does help me along my chronic illness journey.

The thing I admire about the Frey family (husband Peter, wife Mary and service dog Ollie), is that while they have FAITH, they also believe in modern medicine.  They don’t expect God to cure Mary of her Cystic Fibrosis.  They don’t even expect modern medicine to cure it.  But, they are at best, hoping that Mary will live for as long as possible (I hope she does too).  They educate and inform the rest of us about life with CF.

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The good news is this is no longer “A Children’s Disease”. Many patients live well into adulthood.  What we need is a cure.

It’s a tough life.  Mary devotes over 2 hours a day to self care.  She wants to keep her lungs healthy for as long as possible.  Despite the incredible medical advances, including lung transplants, most CF patients do not make it to age 40.  That’s the top end of what she is looking at.  It should be noted, I learned that a lung transplant does not cure CF.  It’s more than just lungs, and for anyone interested Mary and Peter have some great educational videos on their you tube site.

So, what do I learn from the Frey Life?  I learn things like “Don’t Forget to Laugh Everyday.” (seriously, go check out their online shop.  They do all the work themselves.)

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For today’s laugh, mom my and little brother bothering our poor cat Crystal.

Yep that’s a rule.  My worst days, when I am in bed, depressed, despondent and in severe pain….surrounded by ice packed joints and having come back from getting the dreaded steroid shot…I make a point of going on You Tube to find a funny cat video to laugh at.  Everyday.  Laugh.  They remind their viewers to do this, and it is pretty darn good advice.

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….and then a helicopter landed.

However, one of the best lessons I learned from Mary was from a recent video.  CF patients go to the hospital a lot, and Mary was again in the hospital.  Peter is out walking Ollie her service dog, and Mary was alone.

Mary was sad.  Her port, which allows the hospital to deliver medication easily, was hurting her.  It was scary.  Replacing the port is an operation, and you could watch Mary’s fears and thoughts overtaking her ability to deal with the reality of life with CF.

We all have been in this spot.  The “I am tired of being ill and constantly having to worry about what’s going to be needed next.”  The endless visits to physicians,  hospital stays, the medication juggling, and the plain old fear.  Mary cried.

Then at that moment, she looked out the window of her hospital room and saw a life flight helicopter landing.  She turned to the camera, her tears stopped, and said “Today is the worst day of someone’s life.”  The timing was sadly perfect.

In that moment, she remembered, life is very hard for all of us.  That while she was afraid of her potential port surgery, and I think also just overwhelmed by her situation, she took a moment to reflect, “It’s not just me.”  Someone was right there having the “worst day of their life.”

One great thing about this blog is that it reminds me, we are not alone.

Everyone is struggling.

Our condition is not just tough on us, it’s tough on our families and friends.  But, we always have to remember, life is tough.  There is no real “normal”.  The older I get the more I learn, everyone has something in their life they are dealing with.  In fact, if you only have ONE THING that you are dealing with, that’s an exceptionally lucky life.

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It’s not just the lungs, something I learned….

Mary is a happy person.  She has a fabulous support system with Peter and Ollie.  She has a CF support team that seems considerate and on top of things.  She also has chosen to share her CF life with others, so that she can help educate us about CF.  But perhaps what she didn’t intend was showing us her own education.

Listening to Mary and Peter, you see their growth.  They will sometimes say “We didn’t know this.”

You see a very young couple dealing with a very serious disease.  They are learning together.  I know my husband and I work as a team, sometimes poorly it should be noted, to deal with the pressures that come not only from my own illness but that of our disabled daughter.  It’s better with a family, but in some ways is also harder.  Communication is the key.  What can I do to help you?  What is “too much” and what is “too little”?  How much can I handle and when do I need to admit I can’t handle things?

By watching the Frey family, I learn what they learn.

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Breathing is a blessing.

But the lesson of the helicopter (as I call it) has been one of the best lessons yet.

When I am in the depth of despair, I have to remember “Someone is having the worst day of their life.”

It doesn’t make my day better, but in a way, it reminds us that everyone else isn’t walking around having these amazingly normal lives.  Also, at any moment, anyone’s life can change.  It can be for the better or for the worse.  But there is only one thing in life that is certain, uncertainty.

Also, the helicopter lesson reminded me how wonderful we are as a species.

We spend huge amounts of money to help take care of each other.  This doesn’t make sense from an economic standpoint.  One could say that the hospital makes money and the helicopter pilot makes money, and certainly the drug companies make money.  But, the effort we have chosen as a society to help those needing care stay alive comforting to me.

I thought, watching the helicopter land “These people, flying that helicopter,  caring for the patient, everyone at the hospital, the nurses, the doctors, the technicians, everyone chose to go into health care.”  These people were inspired, most not by money, to study and educate themselves in a profession where they help others.  My GP doctor jokes “Every doctor has a batting average of zero.”  Medical care is not always the most uplifting of professions.  People suffer, they are in pain, they die.  People still chose to do this for a profession.

 

Mary does her hard work, the PT and the vibrating vest and the medications are a full time job.  Peter does his part, supporting her but also letting her cough and not asking “are you OK?”.  He is wonderful as he carries on as if “this is normal”. It is normal life for them.  Mary’s never made to feel like a “sick person”.  Instead she is a “person with CF.”

I love how Peter often just gives a shrug and says “This is life with CF.”

It’s not “This is life with someone that is really sick, and things are not normal at all, it’s just SO DIFFERENT.”  No, he’s just “This is LIFE.”

One criticism is that Peter seems to ignore Mary when she is having a coughing fit.  He is not ignoring her.  That’s just “life with CF.” He will sometimes pat her shoulder, but mainly he is there. He never treats her like she is a SICK PERSON.  That’s one good lesson for anyone caregiving for someone with a chronic illness.  Don’t act like life is “not normal”.  This is normal for someone with a chronic illness.  No one wants to feel like a patient all the time.

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Always take a moment to look UP.  It’s a wonderful sky out there.

So, yes they are showing mainly the upbeat times.  But since the videos are daily, you get a real picture of life with CF.  Warts and all.  Plus, you admire how a young couple, obviously without much money, works hard to make do with less.  They find such happiness in sunsets, that I started keeping my eye out for “beautiful skies.”  I now take a moment to look at the sky.  It’s just a moment, but it’s a moment of happiness I did not have before.

Thank you Mary, Peter and Ollie.

 

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Prince didn’t die from Opiate Use

Many of us suffering from chronic illnesses are heartbroken over the death of Prince.  Most of us are fans of his music, others also love his ascetic and the mystic of the man that choose to live in Minnesota, not Hollywood.

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But most of us are heartbroken as we depend on opiates to help us stay pain free.  Because we know Prince didn’t die of opiate use, he died from breaking the law.  He died from opiate mis use, which is a crime.

The criminals are keeping so many of us from being able to easily get a drug that we have used safely for years.  In my case, I’ve had almost 10 years of opiate use to get me through pain that otherwise would keep me bed bound.  Others that take opiates are in end stage cancer, and it is the only thing that works, allowing them more time to enjoy their families and even travel a bit and do those things they love so much.

587c5f9cc5924bcad26cb13014ddd970People with severe arthritis and chronic illnesses in the past were confined to lives of horrific pain.  The drugs used to treat in the past, were often also opiates.  An older doctor friend said that “They worked well, before morphine and other pain killers, those wounded on the battlefield were doomed to  often die of shock from their injuries before we could get them to a hospital.”  Opiates help countless others recover from surgeries, that before modern use of opiates would mean the surgery could be successful, but the pain control not, and shock would set in.

 

When I had a severe case of diverticulitis, the pain was so horrible that in the hospital I cried in pain for two days, unable to even watch TV or read a book.  The staff assured me I was getting as much pain killer as I could, and that soon the antibiotics would work.  This meant I could have the surgery that would save my life later when my intestines were not suffering from an extreme infection.  While I was in pain, I was also comforted knowing that I was undergoing a very dangerous surgery under much more safer circumstances without the infection.  The only thing allowing the delay were the extreme pain medications.

So, what about those of us that take opiates?

Well today opiate use is under attack by law enforcement and various states.  They see this as an epidemic.  They also blame doctors.  They are “overwhelmed”, or should I say understaffed and undertrained.  The same police that shoot someone as an over reaction to their fears of being hurt, are the same people claiming the only cure for this epidemic is strict enforcement of laws designed to make it harder to get these drugs.

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the expression of pain is one many of us would have to live with, as  long as we could “take it” without good pain killers.  All of which have dangers and side effects.  The choice though is clear for those in chronic pain.  Those that abuse should not punish those that use these drugs properly, nor the doctors that know how to prescribe them safely.  

 

Sadly the only people being punished are those that really need these drugs to function. One friend told me that she saw her grandmother only in bed, since her arthritis had no good treatment.  Eventually she said her grandmother simply stopped eating, a slow and miserable form of suicide.  No one in the family encouraged her to eat, as they knew her level of pain was horrific.  There were no “home remedies”, those snake oil medicines that were mostly cocaine or morphine, there were just doctors that knew some forms of arthritis were a curse, as feared in those days as getting cancer.

So, how are opiates different today?

Well for one thing doctors, not the police, have taken great steps in solving this opiate crisis.  My opiates come in a safe long release form.  That means, I can’t get a punch from it.  Over 12 hours it is slowly released into my system.  I feel the pain ease away, and it takes about 20-30 minutes before I can even walk in the mornings.  I keep the medications by my bed, ready to be taken.  What happens if I take two? I would suppose I get a bit more of a buzz, but it’s still super low release.

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My grandmother trained as a nurse in the 1920’s, she saw the major developments of antibiotics and also safer pain medications during her career. Also the study of addiction started, and the need for carefully following a patient on an opiate (or any medication) was well known to her. Her first jobs were during prohibition as a private nurse helping alcoholics that were using  very unsafe substitutes for formerly legal liquors.

Still, what if someone steals my tablets?  They will be very unhappy as they won’t get much of a punch.  In fact the slow release has little chance of addition.  Also crushing the tablets to snort (which is a favorite method for a quick high) won’t work with these pills.  There is an additive that means if crushed, cut or broken, the opiate won’t work at all.  These new pills, developed to help those with a long term pain need not become addicts, is never mentioned by the media.

My own doctors are appalled at the law enforcement/political plans to deal with this “crisis”.  They feel left out of the process.  As it is, laws have been passed that I can only refill my prescription on the day it runs out.  I have to be out of drugs before I can refill.  This often means if there is a snow storm or some other reason I can’t get out, I can’t get my drugs.  This also means I can’t drop one or lose one.  I dropped one the other day, and ended up having a friend over to tear apart the room with me (I can’t bend over well) to find it, where it was found having rolled under the bed and into a dust bunny.  My friend was “throw this out, it’s all dirty.” I was “I have to take it.”

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Let’s make this as hard as possible…..not for the criminals of course, for the people not breaking any laws.

 

Next up are the laws that say you have to have a paper prescription.  So you time everything correctly.  Each month I have to go get a paper copy of the prescription from my physician who has never had one problem with her patients and opiates.  None.  But this applies to all doctors.  Instead of going after the criminal doctors, and they are out there selling everything, not just opiates, the police have decided all doctors are guilty.  So, often I am driving, or most often someone that can still drive well, to pick up the paper prescription.

A horrible situation arose when I had my prescription ready to go on a Friday, and found my physician had forgotten to sign it.  It didn’t matter that for years I have gone to this same pharmacy and filled this same prescription, I had to have a real signature.  The doctor had simply forgotten.  Her office was closing in 15 minutes.  I could not physically drive there and back (her office is about 30 minutes away).  She was leaving for the weekend to see her child at college.  A fax was no good.  This had to be a physical signature.

Finally, after much calling and “I know this law is so stupid”, the head pharmacist and

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… adding hoops to jump through won’t make the problem of drug addiction go away.

someone at the company that owns the pharmacy, took pity on me.  They knew me, by first name, they knew this doctor had NO issues or problems.  She promised to send one over via mail overnight, but for that night, I could have one pill.  One pill.  Everyone involved knew this was ridiculous, but they didn’t want me to have to spend the night in pain or as would probably happen, having to check into the hospital.

Massachusetts tried to pass a law where anyone on opiates had to go to the pharmacy every 3 days for a refill.  Now when I put in my prescription, I have to show ID.  I have shown ID being driven by my husband or a family member, while in my pajamas and robe and surrounded by pillows, because if I am flaring, I should be in bed,not in a car at the pharmacy drive through.

My own doctor was livid about this, wondering how end stage cancer patients would enjoy spending their little remaining time driving between their doctors office picking up a paper copy, and then sitting waiting for their pills at the pharmacy.  She said “Patients with real needs that had never abused their opiates would spend all their time going back and forth.”  You have to show up in person, no matter what your condition, but once a month I can do.  Every three days, that’s impossible.  But the police and law enforcement were all in favor of this.

That’s the problem, because Prince was given opiates for his hip problem.  But the opiates did not kill him.  He died as he had people that helped him abuse the drug.  If it weren’t opiates, it might have been something else.  People say “I was addicted.” No, as with many drugs, opiates are hard to get off of right away, and you ease off with the help of your physician when the time is right.  Just try not taking, cold turkey, almost any medication. It’s tough.  I know someone trying to get off of her Paxil as she read it can cause dementia later in life.  She tried to quit “cold turkey” and was a complete mess.  She had to be eased off of it, and another drug which she hopes is safer, introduced.

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We have things to do, that do not include waiting around the pharmacy

What killed Prince were his friends and others that got him those opiates.  Perhaps he had his staff claim they were in pain and needed short term opiates.  These will give you quite the buzz.  Money can buy a lot of things. Including doctors that will sell you about anything, including Ritalin to snort.  No one is saying “let’s stop using Ritalin.”  Paxil does indeed seem to cause an increase in your risk of dementia, as does Tylenol.  No one is calling for those to be more regulated.  Indeed, one of the most dangerous overdoses anyone can take is half a bottle of Tylenol.  There isn’t much that can be done for the liver damage and people that were more into scaring their family with taking an over the counter medication find themselves dead.  Mix in some alcohol and you are in for real trouble.

Yes there is an opiate crisis.  I know this as I have a handicap tag, not a license plate.  Why?  Because if you have the license plate, people will break into your home knowing you have a likelihood of having MANY drugs (not just opiates) they can sell.  Also I was asked to always use the drive through at the pharmacy.  That is because an elderly couple that got their medications locally (at the pharmacy I use) were followed by someone as they left and robbed at the post office in small Spofford Village.  Yes crime is around prescription drugs.

But there is also crime around heroin, marijuana, cocaine and other drugs.

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There will always be another drug, prohibition doesn’t work

There are also cheaper drugs just waiting to fill the void in the United States.  Currently Thailand has a inexpensive pill that helps workers put in long days.  It’s a necessity for many to make a living.  Ya Ba is sold for about $3-4 a pill.  It’s a super cheap high, first popularized by long distance truckers.  It’s spreading throughout Asia, as it’s a way to keep going even when you are exhausted.  It also is a way to party and have a social life after a long day of work.  Once this pill invades the US, it will make opiates look like a joke.

The problem isn’t that doctors are prescribing this, it’s that many people do have an addictive personality and also have the money and means to get more of this drug.  When they are taken off the medication, not slowly and carefully, they often turn to heroin on the street as it’s the closest they can get. It should be noted prescription opiates are not heroin.  Also stolen opiates are often crushed and injected, they are not at all what the person legally taking these drugs is experiencing.  If anything, doctors need to know their patients, and also make sure that there is proper care with withdraw from the drug.

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Even Sherlock Holmes used it, but Doctor Watson wasn’t overly concerned in the Conan Doyle stories. It was more like “you are drinking a bit too much old boy.” Today’s physician is more careful and involved with long term opiate patients.

When celebrities like Jamie Lee Curtis claim they were “addicted” to opiates after a surgery, what they mean is “I had a really hard time getting off of it, as I possibly would with any medication that is very strong.”  She was not on the streets seeking a high from heroin.  Anyone that has suffered from Depression, as many with chronic illnesses have, knows that the switching of medications to determine the correct medication for treatment can be torturous.  It’s not just opiates that are difficult to do without.

But, politicians and law enforcement, they see all use of opiates as dangerous.  The punishment falls on those least able to follow these new restrictions and rules.  They don’t consult with physicians and surgeons and hospitals about all the good these medications do for so many, who do not abuse the drug.  There are no good alternatives for many of these medications.  Punishing the patient is not the answer.  Punishing the physician who has to tell the patient, “I have to use this other painkiller that does cause terrible stomach pain, I’m sorry.”  What they will do with patients after surgery is not known.

It’s easier for someone to buy and abuse liquor, and indeed we rarely read about the epidemic of alcoholism, than to get opiates.  If you are Prince and you have friends and money, you can get this drug.  But the drug itself did not kill him.  His dependence and unwillingness to find treatment, did.  It could have been alcohol.  It could have been cocaine.  It could have been Ya Ba.  As long as there are substances that can alter our physical state, they will be used for both good and bad.

Prohibition did not work.  States are figuring out that decriminalizing marijuana is a good idea.  Even making it legal seems to be working well for Colorado.  California has it so you can sneeze and get the medical use license.

Opiates are the drug du jour.  They do a lot of good, and yes have cause a lot of harm for some that have abused them.  Overall, imagine war without opiates, hospitals without an opiate choice for those in severe pain, and opiates off the list for people at the end stage of their illness.  Pass laws and more restrictions and those that still want it will find it.  Those that legally use it and need it, will just suffer in pain with inferior medications, or end up trapped in bed and suicides will jump.

If physicians and doctor, those ones that deal with patients everyday, were included in this

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I know more than you doctor! Why would I ask their opinion on this? Solve a problem by shooting it or banning it!

“war on opiates” lawmakers and law enforcement might learn there is a lot that the medical community has already done to make opiates safer.  Long term slow release is a comfort to me, knowing I can get the medication I need and have small chance of addition.  While getting off these medications may be part of my future if a better treatment is found for my condition, and much surgery done to correct the damage already done, I may be off these drugs.  I would like nothing more than to be able to live drug free.  But that is not a reality for many of us.

The thought that politicians and not physicians, will be the ones deciding if I live a life of pain, or one of controlled comfort, is one that terrifies me.

 

 

Doing Time in The Hole

Doing Time in The Hole

By Katrina Branch

Misbehaving in prison is a bad idea. The powers-that-be do not approve of bad behavior, and they have some unpleasant tools to discipline those who break the rules. Solitary confinement is the current punishment—along with extending the time to be served before the possibility of parole, but in the bad old days, they had The Hole.
The Hole was solitary with some other sadistic touches thrown in. It was usually kept dark, and sometimes sound-proofed so that even the noise of the other prisoners was muffled. Unheated and damp cells were often used, along with nothing to sleep on, and a bucket and/or a hole in the floor for a latrine. At Alcatraz, the prisoner’s food wastossed into a blender and reduced to a sort of wretched smoothie with some beet juicethrown in, so that whatever flavor there might have been, became beet. Food was passed in through a slot, so that even that necessary moment of interaction was deprived of all humanity. Guys often came out of the Hole not quite right in the head.

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Nowadays, such practices are forbidden as being inhuman and torturous. But the Hole still exists—in the heads of people with depression.
It’s hard to explain to a person who has had the good fortune to never have experienced such a thing. But if you know someone with depression, odds are good that they know about the Hole and that they’ve done time there. The Hole is the place where hope and light and the view of tomorrow have all vanished. There’s just an endless gray expanse of I’m Screwed as far as your brain can see.
In the Hole, we lose the ability to remember what life was like before it. We lose the ability to project life after it. We can’t imagine that there is a way out of it. Life will just continue being a struggle—fighting to remember things, fighting to find the energy to eat (food tastes bad) or to walk (the Hole includes a level of fatigue comparable to having just completed a week of the flu). Interacting with other humans feels too difficult to contemplate—and even if that weren’t the case, the conviction that no one would tolerate one’s worthless presence except as a strained courtesy is part of the package.
It is a fundamental sense of having lost one’s humanity, of being the shivering dog in the ASPCA ads, alone and unwanted and covered in fleas. The Hole is why depressed people sometimes commit suicide.
This is why anti-depressants are life-savers: They put a floor in the Hole. As one sinks into the sense of detachment and enveloping shame—or worse, into the bog of numbness—there is a sudden stop. The sides of the Hole no longer rise so high you can’t see out; with luck—and the right dose of the right meds—you can even see that you could climb out, if you can find the energy. The sense that it will not always be like this is achievable, if not always automatic. Sometimes you can even conjure up a happy memory and think, “Life has not always been like this.”
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Depression, medication helps.
If your brain is normal, you could take anti-depressants for a month and they wouldn’t give you a high. (You would have trouble sleeping and break a horrible sweat, and much worse is possible, so please don’t try it.) They aren’t the ‘pep pills’ that were used back in the 60’s to try to banish depression. They just keep your serotonin (and in some cases, norepinephrine) levels from crashing below the threshold of functionality. They don’t put you back in the normal world—but they do add a lightbulb and a window looking outside. This is literally life-changing for a person with depression. It’s no longer the Hole, just solitary confinement until we find our feet again.
I have extra experience with the loss of perspective due to brain irregularities, and this is because I suffer from migraine. Migraine is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the
brain—one book I read described it as a wave of electrical potential sweeping out
like ripples from a stone tossed into a pond. It causes some of the semi-automatic functions of the brain to misfire. In particular, it messes with the limbic system which affects memory; social cognition; rage and passivity; and overall emotional function. In
other words, it literally scrambles the circuits that add emotional flavor to our memories and ideas of the future.
There is a moment in the depths of a migraine when one has a wave of panic: “It’s not getting better. It’s always going to hurt like this. I can’t take this much longer!” and it seems as though the pain has been going on for hours. (For me, this moment usually hits about half an hour or forty minutes into the headache—right before the meds kick in.) This overwhelming sense that migraine is not a passing event but is the new reality of life—that is the closest thing I know of to the Hole in any other realm. It’s a comparable level of not being able to access memories or project a future outside the present emotional context. It’s literally not possible with your brain in that state to have the usual processes occur.
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Feeling in “the hole” is common to many illnesses
I mention this for two reasons. First, because I had a friend suddenly understand what the depression Hole is like, because I drew this analogy and she has migraines. Second, because the lessons I learned from migraine turn out to be useful in dealing
with the Hole of depression.
1) Accept that it is happening. You can’t make a migraine—or depression) better by just telling yourself it’s not real. This is not a weakness of character: It’s a medical condition due to unusual brain activity.
2) Get to a safe place. You can’t make it go away by trying to act as though it isn’t there. You have to take care of yourself and not try to do anything except get home (or to another safe place) and ride it out.
3) You can shorten the course and severity by taking your medication—and if you don’t have any prescribed, by seeing a doctor as soon as you can get someone
to take you.
4) While you can’t make yourself not feel like your life is bad, you can remind yourself gently but repeatedly that this has happened before and it passed. Sometimes that feels like stating utter nonsense, but the act of focusing on the
words, “This is temporary and things will get better” can help you stay out of the whirlpool of panic or sorrow. (For depression, I say that out loud; for migraine, sound is painful so I just think the words over and over.)

5) Accept whatever help you can get. For migraine, that means having my kid or spouse bring me my cold flax bags, going in a dark room, and lying very still until the medication has done its thing. If I am away from home when the prodrome (pre-migraine weirdness) strikes, I need to call someone to drive me home. Being in control of an automobile is not safe when I’m in the throes of migraine; and sometimes, when I’m in the Hole.

 6) Have compassion for yourself. This is actually the hardest step to take, and one I am only now getting good at. If a friend was going through a migraine, or suffering from depression, I’d never expect them to be able to maintain a normal schedule! Try to grant yourself the same compassion you would show a friend. It’s not being ‘selfish,’ it’s being reasonable and fair. It’s okay to be fair with yourself, and it’s necessary to be reasonable if you want to accomplish anything lasting in life.
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It’s scary, but it passes.
  Some people have situational depression, that is, they are depressed because of something bad happening in their lives: the death of a loved one; the loss of a job; getting a bad diagnosis (or worse, having symptoms and tests and not getting a diagnosis, which is very scary). It’s a natural and common reaction to something shitty happening in life. Some people have affective depression, that is, their emotional mechanism (affect) is out of true due to neuro-transmitter imbalances in their brain.
Whichever is the cause, you can find yourself in The Hole. Sadly that’s how it is: You discover you are there. Like stepping on a rotted plank, you know after it happens that you’re no longer on the level but sunk in the mud. That’s okay, you know it now. Take a few deep breaths and then remember the six suggestions above. Accept it’s real; Get to a safe place; Medication; Remember it will pass; Accept help; Have compassion. In fact,if you have a friend or a loved one in trouble, you can help them with any or all of those steps—you can grant that help; you can provide transportation; you can reassure them that it will pass; you can get them their meds or support that trip to the doctor.
And please, share this article with them. It is great solace to learn that you’re not theonly one who has done time in The Hole, and a ray of hope to find that others have found their way out again. You’re not alone; this is not a dreadful fate meted out to you.
It’s a medical issue, and it needs to be treated as one. Nobody would tell someone with heart arrhythmia to “snap out of it.” You’d tell them—or yourself—to take your meds and take action, doing what is known to have helped before. And you would have compassion for their suffering..