Having seen the news articles today about Robin Williams’ Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, this post from May 2013 is intended to share that not all that hear the news will understand the serious nature of what those of us whom deal with depression and Parkinson’s Disease have to endure. As a result of the untimely death of Robin Williams, we have been afforded an opportunity to raise awareness to a higher level and educate others to the greatest extent possible.
Some people don’t have a clue what living with depression is about and just don’t “get it”. These are the most difficult type of people to convince that depression is real because these are the same people that don’t “get it”. It took me a while to realize this when, a few years ago, I asked a co-worker what she did to cope with states of depression or “down” days. She responded that she never got depressed. So much of my time had been spent on trying to figure out what I was doing wrong in dealing with depression, and all the while I had not realized that not everyone was affected by depression.
I have come to the conclusion that depression for me is not something to be embarrassed about. A mental illness is an illness nonetheless, and it is something that needs to be dealt with, attention brought to it, and encouraging people whose lives are affected to seek help to make their lives more bearable, which leads to a better quality of life. I’ve said that I’ve dealt with the symptoms of depression for more than half of my life. I tried convincing myself that it was something that all people went through. I tried counseling, that for me was a waste of time and money when I kept being told that I shouldn’t feel that way and that there was more to look forward to in life. I tried different combinations of medications (prescribed by a family physician) for depression that seemed to make the condition worse.
The break-through for me, came from having dealt with depression in spite of having a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, and being depressed as a result of having Parkinson’s Disease. For many years, Parkinson’s Disease has been known as a movement disorder. It has only been brought about in the last few years that it also has non-motor symptoms associated with it that had been dismissed sometimes flippantly as “it’s all in your head”, or “you’re too young to have Parkinson’s Disease, so you must be making these symptoms up’. As most of the people that you meet whom live with Parkinson’s Disease, and those also affected by depression, what causes the symptoms may be part of the neurological system that includes the brain, but it is definitely not something that we sit around and conjure up just to make our lives miserable.
My movement disorders specialist, by virtue of having listened to the issues that I was dealing with, aside from the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, recommended as part of my treatment regimen, an anti-depressive, that thankfully allowed for relief from the symptoms of depression. I see it as finally being able to step on solid ground, with a fighting chance of having a good quality of life, and knowing that things can get better.
What frightens me is that there are many people living with the symptoms of depression that don’t know where to turn for help. If this post helps someone to realize that living with depression is not something to be embarrassed about and that it is possible to get relief from the symptoms, then sharing my journey will not have been in vain.