In point of fact — at this time — there is no end to MCS. My issues with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities will end when my body ceases to function. I have in posts written about what MCS is, how I became disabled from it, how to detox your life so you don’t become a statistic like me, the legal aspects of it, the loss of financial security, loss of identity… BUT I haven’t addressed the depression/panic attack/potential for suicide aspects of my MCS.
I am no expert on suicide or depression. I have no psychology degree — no medical degree — I haven’t served on a suicide hotline. I will write this post the same as all my other posts — from my personal experiences.
As a former teacher of teenagers, I referred more than a few students for suicide prevention counseling. There is no formula for who will and who won’t commit suicide but I did notice that the kids that I red flagged as needing help fell into a few categories. To the left I list the categories — to the right my personal beliefs of what may be the underlying cause.
Drug use/health issues = CHEMICAL IMBALANCE IN THE BODY/ISOLATED
Christmastime = LACK OF FINANCIAL SECURITY/LACK OF LOVE/LACK OF RECEIVING
Pushing self to achieve beyond actual abilities = COLLAPSE OF SELF WORTH/IDENTITY
Abused/Attacked = BETRAYAL
Failing = NEVER GOING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH/THINGS WILL NEVER IMPROVE/I’M DEFECTIVE
Having to deal with any one of these categories can be enough to put some one without the means and skills and experience to work their way through it — into a tailspin of depression. Starting around 7 years ago when the first student deliberately sprayed cologne in my room knowing it would make me ill — up to today — I have dealt with all of these categories. With no exaggeration, often I dealt with ALL of them at the same time.
All of these categories I have made peace with most days. If you want a lot of light in your life do you want a thousand candles or one sun? This is the first thing that I dealt with — many many people are no longer in my life — BUT the ones who remain are all suns. I’ve built a new identity. I’ve learned how I can still be a productive person in the world. There is only one category that can still put me in the scary place.
I can control whether I allow toxic people into my life and how I choose to react to them. But when toxic chemicals invade my body, I have no control over how the chemicals affect me physically — mentally — emotionally. It is the emotional aspect that is the hardest for me to deal with. A couple of days ago, within a few hour’s time, I was exposed to driveway sealant and bleach. The physical issues were hives, headache, fatigue, memory issues, inability to concentrate, difficulty with fine motor skills, sick to my stomach… After years of dealing with MCS these did not cause me any great angst. The panic attacks/depression were a whole other story. Fortunately, it does not happen every time I have an exposure. But major exposures and certain chemicals put me emotionally in a very scary place.
Obviously, the first thing to do with any exposure is get away from the offending chemical. After that it is up to my body how many hours or days it will take for the chemical to be detoxed from my system — if it can be at all. During this time I get the most fresh air — fresh water — and fresh food I can. I seek to avoid isolation as much as possible. I mediate. I pet my cats. I play upbeat music. And I repeat over and over in my head, “It’s just the chemicals. It’s just the chemicals. Things will get better. They always get better.”
In short what is the purpose of the post: AWARENESS. If you have MCS maybe you’re depressed and it’s from the chemicals and you haven’t made the connection. If you’re a friend or relative or colleague of someone with MCS maybe you weren’t aware how the chemicals can affect our emotional as well as physical well-being. Maybe every thing is going well in your life except unexpectedly some times after being around certain chemicals you get really depressed and never made the connection.
The same chemical can affect people with MCS differently so I can’t make a list and say these chemicals may result in panic attacks. And those with MCS don’t all have the same list of symptoms. I get hives. You may not. And therefore you may not have any emotional effects from chemicals. But I do.
One of the most common phrases I hear from people when I discuss my MCS is: “I didn’t know that.” Well before I was diagnosed with MCS I said that too. Awareness is I think the greatest tool to health. Once we know the why something is occurring then we can know where to start to fix the problem. If you’re depressed for any reason PLEASE talk to someone: clergy, friend, doctor, counselor …
The pictures I’ve included throughout the post are from the nature walk I took about an hour before my two big exposures. I find it difficult to stay down when I am with nature. I hope they lift you up and more will be posted on Sunday’s Slideshow.
What do you do in life to pick yourself up when you are down? Do you find that chemical exposures affect you emotionally?
Here are links to two MCS sisters sites who recently wrote about hope: Stephanie and Sonda. I hope you had a happy, healthy day — if not– join with me knowing that rainbows follow the storms and they are worth waiting for.