Depression Reflection

Depression Reflection

Depression has a physical feeling too, you know.

Depression. It’s a heavy word, and one that we are all too familiar with in our day and age. You probably know someone close to you that struggles with it, or maybe you do yourself. For a lot of people who have never had depression though, it’s hard to put into words what it feels like. Sure we all know the consequences of depression, and sure we all know it means that someone is sad, but it is (unfortunately) so much more than that. It’s not just an emotional state, but a physical and mental one as well. I myself struggle with depression, and while depression isn’t the same for everyone, this is what it feels like to me.

Depression feels like a solid stone, the same temperature as your body, that has been lodged in your chest. It's heavy, yet you cannot feel it. It weighs on your chest, and though it's as imaginary as my childhood fairy friend, it controls me in a way my imaginary friend never could. It holds me down and back, and makes me stress over the world I'm trying to ignore, praying devotedly that the world ignores me right back.

I have ambition and drive, cunning wit, and resourcefulness. When I don't feel my depression, that is. The moment that my depression hits me like a wall, it's as if I'm an empty sack of sorrow, feeling nothing, wanting nothing, and receiving nothing. The only thing I can even possibly imagine doing is laying down and doing purely nothing. Nothing is quite easy to imagine, after all. I do cry, sometimes, but don't ask me why. I'm sad, yet this is for no reason that I have found. My face is wet, and tears often fall over down one cheek, over my nose, only to join up with the other tear on my other cheek, then landing softly on the bed beneath my face.

The tears somehow relieve my chest, as if all the useless tears are stored where the stone is and by crying I'm emptying space for the stone, causing less pressure inside of me. And while the tears are relieving, they are also infuriating. I hate crying, especially for no reason at all. I hate crying, especially when it's neither the time nor place. I hate crying, especially when I'm around my friends and all they want to do is help.

"Can't you just go away and let me weep and mourn in numb sorrow over nothing? And if you do want to help then hug me and say nothing!" I cry out. But not aloud, oh no. Never out loud. Always quietly and inside myself.

But back to when I do cry and can't control it, I can't feel the emotions that make me cry, or even comprehend what might make me cry. This confuses me beyond all belief, and makes me annoyed at the fact that I don't know why I'm upset or why I'm crying or why I'm not alright and happy like everyone else.

I don't get the tears and why I cry at those times, and I don't think I ever will.

I don't get why I lack all of my strongest driving qualities at those times, and I don't think I ever will.

I don't get why my chest is heavy at those times, and I don't think I ever will.

I don't get why I have and struggle with depression, and I don't think I ever will.

I don't understand any of it, ever, at all, and I don't think I ever will.

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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Chronic Pain Can Ruin Your Life If You Don't Have The Right Support

The pain makes everything else stop.


Chronic pain can stem from many disorders and even from mental illnesses. In many people, levels of pain vary throughout the day and depending on the person's pain threshold can affect them in different ways. However, understanding that chronic pain is diverse in its effect on different individuals is important. Chronic pain is often not visible externally, so unlike many other disabilities, there is no visual symbol like a cane or unique features that would indicate what is often an enduring and challenging to deal with ache.

Chronic pain is something that affects a person's appetite, mood, and ability to focus/do productive tasks.

This lack of functionality often leads the a struggle to find the motivation to keep going with one's day and pursue one's goals. People often lose friendships and a sense of social life due to constant isolation. This only further deteriorates one's ability to find fulfillment in one's life. It is a ruthless circle of pain.

To have a nonvisual impairment can be very difficult to explain and be taken seriously. And often, one can be perceived as whining if the person who witnesses a person in chronic pain is not aware of symptoms. So, if you see someone who does not look elderly or pregnant sitting in a seat on a train or bus meant for disabled persons, do not assume they are abusing the system.

Many of the causes of chronic pain are disorders that can never be 100 percent corrected or cured, which means the only method of surviving and prospering is trying to create a support system that is relenting and constantly encouraging because chronic pain is more often than not very demoralizing. It is also important to have a drug schedule that manages pain reasonably and is approved by a medical professional.

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