Dare To Be Happy

By Candy Czernicki June 27, 2011

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. ~ Frederick Douglass

Let’s get this out in the open: I am bipolar II. That means the mania is really low-key and infrequent and the depression, at least in my case, for most of my life, has been pretty much nonstop.

There are degrees of depression, of course. Mine gets severe relatively quickly and stays that way a relatively long time. Yes, I have been an inpatient at psychiatric hospitals. Yes, I have self-harmed. Yes, I have been on every psychotropic medication known to man, and failed most of them. The two that I’m on right now combine for one really annoying side effect.

I have even, since about New Year’s, been undergoing a course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). My memory is shot, along with many other things, but the suggestion to do it came up in month 6 of an unrelenting depressive episode. Nothing else was working.

Despite all this, I’ve managed to push through as best I can. I’ve found work, and a work schedule, that works for me, as well as a compassionate employer.

It’s still hard, though, and most people still don’t understand. They tell me to snap out [...] continue the story

The “Difficult” Patient: It’s Time to Replace the D-Word

November 2, 2011

I hear the phrase a lot from doctors, physician bloggers, surgeons, nurses, fellow patients and loved ones; being labeled the “difficult patient” because of a chronic or complicated illness.

I’ve heard “the difficult patient” referred to as a lot of things: the patient with a nasty attitude; the patient who refuses treatment or refuses to take care of their body; the patient with a complicated family situation; the patient with a terminal/complicated disease pattern; the patient whose disease remains a mystery; the patient who can’t give a straight answer; the patient who has a chronic illness.

Most of those definitions I understand. But it’s the phrase I have an issue with when it comes to being the chronically ill patient.

For those of you reading this that are healthy, I want you to stop and imagine the following: You are sick all of the time. You have fevers and can’t control when you’ll have a hot flash or cold sweat or chills; diarrhea or constipation; cramps or nausea. You have pain: muscle and joint everywhere, all the time and often without relief. You might have chronic migraines, numbness, memory loss and disorientation that comes and goes. You are fatigued, and by [...] continue the story

Chronic disease and grief

Svend Andersen has Parkinson’s disease. Based on his personal experiences and his professional background as a Psychologist he shares his thoughts on the grief that follows having a chronic debilitating disease.

________________________________________ When someone contracts a chronic disease, it is necessary to work with grief. The sense of being healthy and having a well-functioning body is lost, along with a loss of parts of one’s identity – at least for a period – maybe a loss of work role, a loss of possibilities regarding certain activities, and partly a loss of the former role in the family.

The difficulty of acceptance, denial, anger Such losses are not easy to digest and one reacts in different ways, sometimes to the astonishment of others. In the beginning, there can be periods denying being ill. You feel sad, you cry, you want to be hugged and let go of the sorrow. You feel anger. Why me? It is unfair. Some feel anger towards the disease, some against the doctor, who does not provide the help expected. You have feelings of guilt and ask yourself questions like “Was it my own fault that I fell ill?” and “Could I have done something differently?” You are fearful of the future [...] continue the story

After the Honeymoon: Chronic Illness in the Workplace

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Therefore, it seemed like a good time to tell parts of my story relating to being “disabled” with chronic invisible illnesses as a young adult in the workforce. A lot of the patients I hear from faced the challenges of developing these illnesses in their 40’s (give or take) and having to leave the workforce; there is much for me to learn from their experiences, but I need to apply it in a different way as I entered and try to make my place in the workforce. At 45, it’s hard enough to give up your job – at 15 (age at diagnosis) it’s really not an option. Hopefully what these patients went through can help me in this challenge.

In my last post, “Once Upon a Time: A Tale of Disclosure”, I discussed my decision to disclose my illnesses to my firm before I was hired full-time. Now, I’d like to share how I approached my first few months (which included my first Busy Season) and when I realized I needed an accommodation. To be clear, I’m not suggesting all other chronic patients follow in my [...] continue the story

Living with Parkinson’s Disease

I am not sure when Parky made me aware of his presence, it was as if he had been around for a long time but kept very quiet.

He started to cramp my style, stopped me in my tracks and made a general nuisance of himself. I would be minding my own business doing some mundane job and there he was a real pain in the bum.

What does he do? Well if I am trying to open a bag he holds my fingers, if I am trying to dance he thinks it’s fun to make my shoes so heavy that I look such an idiot and also feel like one. He holds my neck in a vice like grip so that I feel like a robot, probably look and sound like one as well.

Sometimes I think I have left him behind me but I can’t fool him, he just lets me know that he is happy to stay with me forever.

I suppose in some ways I have got used to having him around, I like to think I can get one over him on occasions. I decorated the hall and just nipped off to bed for a nap when he called.

So [...] continue the story