It is a measure of self-compassion on this Bell Let’s Talk Day when I can slow down and remind myself of where I am and where I’ve come from.
I have a long history of, and recovery from, substance abuse – chiefly, but not solely, alcohol – begun shortly after a period of sexual abuse in my adolescence – which followed an elementary school teacher experience with hell.
Since I was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 1989 I have been treated for depression, and later bipolar II which is treated with medications and talk therapy.
I have been through a lot but I’m always gratified to hear of other people’s struggles on days like this.
I describe myself, rightly so I think, as a long-term survivor of AIDS and HIV. I offer as evidence my being diagnosed with HIV in 1989 and my long, slow recovery from AIDS-related Cryptosporidiosis in the early 90s – the effects of which shadow me to this day.
Over the years, due to a serious accident and other incidents, I have also been treated for major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II.
My mood has been mostly stable, arching towards a bit of depression after Christmas.
With the approach of Bell Let’s Talk I find myself taking stock of my mental state and wondering, what’s next?
While the good folks at the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry work on my smile in a major . long overdue way, I feel optimistic, not having realized how isolating broken teeth have affected me.
But now what?
I sometimes still tie my survival, and my right to pull the plug, to my mother’s life (no pressure, Mom!), having made a commitment to myself to live as long as she does.
But if I get a nice set of teeth after all this oral surgery is over, I won’t want to squander all that with a shortened life – certainly not of my own doing.
Celina Caesar-Chavannes appeared tonight on CBC Power and Politics with host Rosemary Barton. She was there to discuss her experiences with depression, before and since becoming MP for Whitby and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Parliamentary Secretary.
Rosemary’s thorough, careful questions brought out responses I could relate to in my own experience – and even in present circumstances.
Sitting around in my “lounge pants” and t-shirt, unwashed.
Recognizing the signs of depression in these and other ways. Maybe I’ll do something about it, rather than wait for my scheduled psychiatric appointment.
It doesn’t seem like it’s enough to know what’s going on.
I do not feel like I am a danger to myself or anyone else. That’s probably important to note.
I really want to thank Rosemary and Celina. In this approaching season of “Let’s Talk.”
I don’t know who you all are, but the blog machine tells me there are 1,013 of you following me here. You can also find me, Kenn Chaplin, on Facebook.
You’ll know that I haven’t been writing much lately so, might I ask, if you have any questions for me?
Bright and early this morning, before I could slip into dishonesty, I volunteered to my diabetes specialist that I was depressed. Actually it was more like joining in conversation with her as she wondered aloud if any ‘black dogs’ were about.
There’s always something cathartic about admitting this after circular self-arguments about whether I am or am not. What’s with the shame? Jeez, I’ve been treated for major depression for over twenty-five years – what’s the big deal if I have a flare-up that meds, at least temporarily, don’t seem to be helping?
She asked if I had a friend I could talk to when I’m feeling down. Several came to mind.
Not unrelated, my diabetes is not controlled at this time (it would help if I did what I was told). I promised her I was already back on track and showing positive results. That’s true.
My weight is down about three kilograms. This is not good as my bony ass feels tremendous discomfort in typical meeting chairs. I can’t find a good cushion.
I’ll see my HIV doc on Friday when more of my blood test results will be revealed. I can’t say I’ll be surprised if there’s a problem.
Affirmation: I deserve to take the best possible care of myself.
While showing me a graph, with the trajectory of my health over the past few months, my endocrinologist remarked, “I wouldn’t have sold you life insurance in January!”
Point taken. It was a rough patch, to be sure.
CD-4 count: 400 (the same level as when I was first diagnosed HIV+); up from 270
Viral load: undetectable (no change)
A1C (blood sugar): 8 (above the ideal 7 but greatly improved from my insulin overdose episode)
Weight: up (I can’t remember either the former or current weight)
I’m still feeling a little wobbly on my legs so I’m using a cane, more often than not, and I have a walker to take with me to the grocery store for heavy loads.
All in all, I am shaping up nicely for spring!