I am definitely walking a mile in other peoples’ shoes. Yes, I realize this is a temporary condition for me. But it has opened my eyes to a new reality. And has made me appreciate what I have just expected and lived with all these years.
I now understand the Basics of life without use of one arm and hand. So many things were difficult if not barely possible for me. To name just a few of my discoveries, I asked other people, ex., waitstaff in restaurants, to cut my food (meat, pasta) for me, my hair didn’t see an elastic in Weeks, showering took some serious thought and prep, and getting dressed was an adventure dependent on gravity and quick, on-the-fly tosses and grabs. Lifting “light” things, unscrewing jar lids or lightbulbs, wringing out a towel or my hair, and tying shoes or a bandana were all hard or impossible.
I’ll go back to life as usual in a few weeks. First I have to get my body back to “normal”. This is sure to be a slow process. I am sure my wrist and its muscles have forgotten a few things. They will have to be (painfully) reminded. Therapy awaits. I hope I get to use my new friend, ice, during this.
As I said, in a few weeks, I go back to a ‘normal’ life. Through this process, I am realizing that other people can’t. It is a humbling wake-up call about all the things I have taken for granted being able to do without difficulty, or pain. I will try to keep these in mind as I go about living from now on.
My signature was a bad replica of before but writing looked better than printing. I felt I was going back to the days of learning how to write in cursive. It looked a little better than chicken scratches, but was legible at least.
Styling my hair was not possible. Hooray for breezes. I used bandanas which I struggled to tie into headbands. Since having this cast, I got my hair cut for the first time in MONTHS. It was somewhat easier to care for. Combing was not easy, brushing even less so. I waited for the day when I could use elastics again. Washing my hair was, well… difficult did not cover it. I employed a newspaper bag with a rubber band to keep the cast dry. I only hoped I got most of it clean and rinsed.
Eating with a fork, etc. was an adventure but not quite an exercise in futility. I was forced to slow down and therefore savor. Cutting things was out of the question mostly. Opening cans = Not! Jars were easier, with small rubber mats. Drinking while holding cups, etc. with my left hand was new. Pouring was a wonder-filled experience. And the beat went on.
I discovered applying mascara with my left hand! As long as I didn’t look in the mirror while doing it, I wouldn’t poke myself in the eye. Lipstick wasn’t SOOO hard. After all, if I didn’t know where my mouth was….. I wasn’t not doing eye shadow or blush and I left manicures and pedicures for someone else.
I marveled at what I could do and appreciated what I was able to do before. And wondered what would come next w/ therapy etc.
I’m sure there are people who think if someone is depressed, or claims to have a mental illness, they can just snap out of it or it will pass or they’re faking it. While sometimes this might be the case, most of the time nothing could be farther from the truth. Those who are dealing with any type of mental illness desperately wish they could just snap out of it.
Sometimes mental illness is situational. Sometimes it seems temporary but all too often it’s a lifelong condition. Sometimes there’s a biological or genetic component. However it arises, it can take a lot of effort & support to survive.
I’m not a psychiatrist nor am I a trained psychologist. I am simply someone who is in the trenches of depression. I’ve heard, “Snap out of it!”, “It’s not that bad.”, & many other responses when people find out I have depression. Like I said, you can’t judge a book by its cover. You can’t tell by looking who is or who isn’t depressed or otherwise mentally ill. I look “normal”, whatever that means.
Most of the time w/ medication & talk therapy, I & others like me do pretty well. Some days are better than others, just like they are for anyone. Like other humans, appreciate & enjoy understanding & support. We find it in groups, w/ friends, & through help from those in the medical profession.
You can’t tell by looking if someone is depressed or experiencing a mental illness. You don’t know their journey just as they don’t know yours. As I said before, not everyone who living w/ mental illness is psychotic or dangerous to others. For the most part, they’re just trying to get through, & get along, in their lives w/ some enjoyment & hard-won positivity. And w/ mutual acceptance, support & understanding from those around them, this is & will be possible.
Once upon a time when a friend of mine found out I was seeing a counselor, he said, “You must be crazy!” I said, “No, I’m not. I’m just depressed.”
I’m told everyone gets depressed from time to time but people who are clinically depressed don’t have a “garden variety” depression. I’m not even sure there is such a thing exists. There are as many types of depression as there are people. Mental illnesses are as individual as those who suffer from them because everyone’s brain chemistry is different. No two people are exactly alike & no two experiences of mental illness, (depression, OCD, mania, etc.) are exactly alike either.
Mental illness – the mere mention of it has an unfortunate stigma attached to it. But not everyone with mental illness is dangerous, crazy or psychotic.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover” applies here.