Holy shitballs, is THIS how it feels to not be depressed?

Well, fuck me silly.

I think it's finally happened. I think... I'm not depressed any more.

This is a beast I've been battling for years and years now - it's something that's been like a grey cloud always hovering over my life. For a very long time, a good day was one in which I didn't have a panic attack, didn't feel nauseous, or didn't feel like I was going to cry. Playing games or visiting with friends was the most effective way to fend off the loneliness and hopelessness, and sometimes I'd even feel good for a couple weeks in a row.

But it always came back. Depression is hard to describe to people who have never suffered from it, but it's instantly recognizable to anyone who has. It's an oppressive force that permeates your entire life. It made me want to hide in bed and sleep my life away. (There were times when I wished I would never have to wake up - that I could stay dreaming forever.) It made me feel sick and anxious so that I didn't want to eat. It made me angry and confused and I started picking fights so I'd have something to channel those feelings into. It made me hate myself - physically and mentally. I began to hate that I was weak and insecure and that it seemed like I couldn't motivate myself to fix myself.

It became normal for me - to the point that I forgot what it was like to not feel that way.

And then, this summer...

...something changed. I honestly do not know what it was that changed. Knowing myself and knowing my triggers, this summer should have been the worst of all - I had no job and nothing to do during the day when I was home, alone. I felt as if I wasn't contributing to the household (I wasn't - I didn't have any money) and I had found out I would need at least another year of school before I could graduate due to all the courses I have failed. Basically I had this summer as a proof of how I had "failed;" it should have been fuel to feed my depression even more.

But it didn't.

Instead, I stayed happy and content for several months. I could still get upset or restless or lonely, of course, but it wasn't all-encompassing and hopeless. I was just sad, not depressed. The feelings would pass on their own, or if I talked about it, or if I did something else... basically, I was healthy again for the first time in... well, since I can clearly remember.

It's easy to forget what it's like to be truly happy.

I can only identify two changes over this summer. The first is that I am able to sleep on a natural rhythm - I got to bed when I'm tired and get up when I'm awake. I don't get forcefully woken up by an alarm too early in my sleep cycle, which is something I know always makes me feel like shit for the rest of the day. The second is that I've been talking 2000 IUs of vitamin D every day for the whole summer. There is a proven connection between vitamin D deficiency and depression, so I suspect the vitamin D has helped quite a bit. (Vitamin D is an interesting topic; this is a great starting point for anyone interested. Ignore the bad page design; Gibson is very, er, oldschool in his web design. It's not a sketchy website trying to sell you anything, as much as it may look it. :P)

But, even with all the contentment, I worry.

I worry that I will slowly slip back into depression. It has a way of sneaking up on you. So, whenever I have a couple days when I'm grumpy or restless or PMSing, I worry. What if the feeling doesn't go away? What if I go back to how I was? I make the people around me miserable in addition to being miserable myself. I don't want that; no one does. But it's hard to spot, and eve harder to stop.

To anyone who has recovered from bouts of depression - can it ever be truly gone? Or do you always worry ti might come back to haunt you?

8 things about

Holy shitballs, is THIS how it feels to not be depressed?
  1. It took over a year of counselling before I finally felt good about myself and my life. There are still times in my life where I feel indescribably hopeless, but I can't let the fear of hopelessness ruin my life.

    I can't tell you enough how happy I am for you to finally have escaped your depression :)

    For any UNB/STU students reading this, UNB has great Counselling Services on campus for free. You can email them at counsel@unb.ca to set up an appointment just to talk. They were instrumental in my recovery and I don't think I'd be around today if it weren't for them.

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  2. So there goes my theory about a glass of Scotch to fend off depression...

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  3. Anon: I was also using UNBs counselling services; they gave me lots of fantastic advice and were an outlet for me to air my concerns. They were very compassionate and understanding and not judgmental at all.

    I stopped going once I was feeling better - I didn't want to take up an appointment slot, heh - but I really recommend them to anyone on UNB's campus that might be having some trouble. T has seen then a few times, too, for general anxiety, and they told him they really enjoy working with people who aren't severely in need but just need a little boost. They're not a crisis center, so it's not wasting anyone's time if you're "just" feeling down or something.

    Stu: Haha, tried that one and it didn't work so well for me. ;) It's a good way to fend of boredom, though. Menial tasks are much better after a drink.

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  4. Drugs worked great for me. I had severe anxiety issues in high school, which therapy did little or nothing to combat. So my therapist gave me MIND ALTERING DRUGS and told me to go away. Alarmingly, I was practically balanced out within six months. Now, I still get the occasional flare-up, but it's rare enough that I don't consider it a burden.

    Not going to recommend it, though. Not everyone's comfortable with that kind of thing. I was on Zoloft, and I remember little to nothing that happened during those six months that I was taking it, but it was totally worth it.

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  5. I'm on a medication that causes severe depression as a glorious side effect; once the doctors figured that one out, they put me on an antidepressant. Once I built up adequate toxicity levels in my blood, I was basically fine again.

    It took me about a year to realise that I could cry, I could be upset about things, I could even feel... depressed. And it didn't mean the real depression was coming back.

    I don't worry about it coming back - in part, I suppose, because I know what caused it and that they could just ramp up my dosage - and haven't for quite some time. Actually Ian worries about it a lot more than I do.

    I guess what I'm saying is, yeah, there's life after depression (I almost said "normal" life, but who wants that?!), and you can learn to let go of it completely.

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  6. Oh wow, sounds like we have the same triggers. If I don't feel productive, I get depressed, then "I [can't] motivate myself to fix myself." YUCK.

    The thing I hate most about being depressed is that you feel like there's no way to be happy again. It's like you can hardly even remember what it felt like.

    To answer your question-- I haven't been depressed for a while now (yay, job!), and honestly I don't think about it too much. I probably have never had it as bad as most people, though, only one time was it a really scarring experience. So for now I'm just living in the moment : )

    (sunshine also helps me a lot... and I've gotten wayyy TOO much of it this summer. if possible. So I'm good for now, but I think I'll try the vitamin D this winter!)

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  7. Scott & Melissa: The counsellor suggested medication, but I'm not too keen on that sort of stuff. I don't like the potential (and common) side effects (notably, reduced libido. :P )...but I do wonder if it would help.

    "and you can learn to let go of it completely. "
    I'm glad of this. :) I guess it'll just take some time..

    April: "The thing I hate most about being depressed is that you feel like there's no way to be happy again. It's like you can hardly even remember what it felt like. "

    This is exactly it. I remember feeling like, why should I try to imrpove myself/my life if I've never been happy before? It's crazy what you'll believe when you feel like that.

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  8. The one bad thing about my medication was getting used to it - for the first week I felt physically horrible, and the same thing happened when they increased the dosage a month or two later. Other than that, I haven't noticed any side effects and it's been... since 2003, I think.

    Obviously everyone's experience is different and I think I may have been very lucky. You might want to give it a try and see what it does (and doesn't do) for you, keeping in mind that it takes a week or two to notice any effects - good or bad - and that if you decide to stop the medication, it'll take about that long for it to leave your system entirely.

    Or you might decide not to, and that's fine too. One of the things with depression is that it takes away your agency to make choices, and I think that makes it especially important not to let anyone push you into a decision, either for or against medication. I think in my case it was important to try something because the other medication was making me actually suicidal; but if you have the leisure to make your own decision, then it's vital for you to do that.

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