This week I’ve written more about OCD than another mental illness that I have, depression.
Today I’m writing about depression.
This past Wednesday was the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Day. It had the theme of “Depression: A Global Crisis.” According to the WHO website, more than 350 million people are affected by depression.
Here are some ways that depression has affected me in the past and still does to a lesser degree now that I have received treatment:
*I felt a deep fatigue most of the time, no matter how much sleep I got. I slept long hours and still had trouble getting up in the morning. But then sometimes, I had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
*I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I couldn’t think of any good reason to go ahead and get up except for the fact that I had to.
*I felt hopeless, like nothing mattered and nothing would ever get better.
*I felt empty. I didn’t feel happy, didn’t feel sad, didn’t feel scared, just felt empty.
*I wished I were dead. I wrote my obituary in my head.
*I sat for hours in front of the TV, not laughing, not crying, not really watching, just listening to the noise and sitting.
*I had a hard time focusing on anything. I couldn’t read, keep up with a TV show, follow a conversation.
This is a journal entry from a bad time I went through several years ago:
My doctor listened to me tell him how I felt empty (I didn’t tell him that my heart felt empty, something that had come to my mind yesterday and seemed to really describe how I felt.) He talked about upping the medication and coming back in three weeks to re-evaluate. I was tearful and said that I didn’t even know what I was like normal. The doctor said, probably when you are really low—and he meant the low without any meds—that is your normal. That struck me. That was my normal? But that wasn’t normal! But the doctor said that a bright side to it was that there were so many meds that could lift me up from the bottom and things were getting better in the treatments for depression. He said that I would probably always—the rest of my life—have the low times and have to have the meds tweaked and changed. But like people who were born with something physically wrong with them, I could learn to adapt.
I am forever grateful for the medication and therapy that have helped me to “adapt,” to be able to feel again, to participate in life again, and to not feel empty anymore.
What helped me: medication, talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and CBASP (Cognitive Behavioral Analysis System of Psychotherapy).
There has been no magic pill for me. Medication alone has not taken away the depression. Therapy alone didn’t work. It has been a journey in learning the combination of treatments that have given me relief.
As my doctor told me years ago, treatments for depression are getting better.
There was hope for me then, and there is still hope for me and for everyone suffering from this debilitating disease.