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A Letter about Depression

Reader,

You are about to read a personal expression written from a depression and psychosis sufferer. We are not talking about a bad day, or a case of the blues, being depressed for days, weeks, or even months. We’re talking about severe clinical depression that this person has had to live with for years, plus the added complications of twisted thinking and perceptions created by psychosis… according to the experts.

Thank-you writer for sharing your personal thoughts and experiences.


 

My Experience and Explanations of Depression

Depression: Can you recognize it?
Depression: Can you recognize it?

I hate that every day it feels like my heart is breaking. I have no idea why. Just aches, and aches, and aches. With people, by myself, outside, inside, walking, sitting, it follows me everywhere. I can still smile, laugh, find things funny, and even function to a degree. But I can’t shake that thing, that ghost, that blackness that wants to choke me to death.

Every morning when I wake up I open my eyes, blink once or twice, find my sense of hello to the world, and notice that the sadness is still there. I’m not even looking for it. It says good morning to me. We have coffee together, after the usual bathroom relief, and sit down to enjoy coffee and email. This has proven a good distraction. Except… there are times the news isn’t good.

There are times the stress, or shall I say shit, has hit the fan before the first sip. Some days it is too much. That stress can be so suddenly exhausting that I can barely hold my head up, breath, or move. And this has happened shortly after a full night sleep. I thought a quick lie down for 30 minutes might remedy that. I was wrong, very wrong. I crashed for 4-6 hours each time, the shortest 3 hours. It is very disorienting. Many times I would get my days confused, and time of day mixed up.

self-help-versus-depression
The Battle for Sleep and Against Sleep

Days and days can go by where I can’t get to bed. I can’t sleep, and then I start falling asleep in my chair. So subtle and soft, unnoticeable, waking and trying to complete one simple thing so I can go to sleep and I might move my cursor and nod right off again. Something that should take 5 minutes takes 30 minutes or more. One night it happened and two hours slipped by before I got to bed. It wasn’t until about 90 minutes in (guessing) that I realized what was happening.

You know when you feel like you’ve been pushed so hard all day that your brain might just explode? How would you like to have that every waking moment for months on end? You know how you just narrowly missed a life and death traffic accident and managed to come out unscathed? You’re so shook up, adrenalin pumping, subsiding, shaking, that you have to pull over to the side of the road?

Oh yeah, I know these feelings better than most. I have no idea why they act the way they do. Not in my case anyway. What about when you became so nervous about what you are about to do that you think  you might puke? Or you did puke? And it felt like an elephant was standing directly on your sternum/chest? Or being wrapped up by a boa constrictor? Can you imagine that? Suffocating. Lack of breath and oxygen. Inability to move, fight, break free.

tumblr_mf4nk75V8d1rrwv0no1_500
Frustration: Crying for no apparent reason.

Yes, my breathing is often shallow. I often sigh loudly, unexpectedly, even surprising myself. They sound pathetic, and I wonder when out in public and they sneak out on me, who notices? Do they care? I’m very self conscious about everything now. My smell, my teeth, my face, my weight, my appearance, my reactions, answers, comments. So many things fall into neglect, and without family support, without friends who are supportive, the rate of decline can be quick. Too much time left untended, unsupported, and teeth rot, weight is gained, muscles atrophy, a complete deconditioning of the body finally meets the mind.

Oh my god, the neediness sometimes, too. Not being self reliant is so hard. Having to ask, even harder. People are uncomfortable with illness to begin with. Broken bones, the common cold, even the flu, you’ll be dong okay for moral support. Once it starts getting weird, hard to understand, a reminder of their own mortality, confusing and mind-fucked to handled, they’re gone. Gone, gone, gone. You’re handling this on your own. Family? Pretty much the same thing if you have the wrong family. You’re on your own. Neglect is a major scourge for depression.

depression (1)You see, misery does like company. I don’t think people really understand the weight and importance of the phrase ‘misery loves company.’ So what if it does? I think we have been using it all wrong. As an excuse. A way out. Misery not only likes company, it needs company. Darkness cannot last forever in a room full of sunshine. This is love that I’m talking about. Nurturing. Healing. Sharing and caring in a way that shifts a persons experience, thus their energy, mood, and thinking. It takes time and repetition. We’re so much better with pets.

I feel like puking often. I’m hungry all day too. I go hungry. I don’t cook. I barely clean. I barely shop. I barely shower. It’s my fault though. Or, as my doctor would say, it is depression. It is worse to shoulder the blame against something that has control over you. Like measles, mumps, diarrhoea, cancer, disease is disease. This is some brain and body chemistry function that isn’t working the way it used to or is supposed to, and it sends signals that wreak all sorts of havoc. At least, this is how I’ve come to understand all that has been explained, and all that I have been experiencing. And yes, cancer is a serious illness to relate depression to. That’s what he said to me. I’ve always been hard on myself and this illness. Always thought of it as nothing more than the common cold and I’d shake it off. Seems I was wrong.

Having had life free of depression for more than 30+ years, this has been particularly difficult. I want out. I want free. I want life. I want my ambition back. I want to dream again. I want to love and feel that happy feeling, and contentment with life.

depressedmanOnce, I made tremendous progress with some assistance over a period of many months. They were pushing me hard and many adjustments were made to my daily living while they were with me. It helped in many ways. Once it stopped, I started to slip. Gradually at first, then suddenly it was like I’d slipped off a precipice and plummeted nearly all the way back to where I began. And it was the one day when one of the biggest changes was about to come. Was it too soon? Was I not ready? Was it too much? We don’t know. I just cracked. Crying almost non-stop for two and a half days.

This is one of the most frustrating experiences and complaints I have about this illness is the fact that it can feel worse when I am getting better. At my very worst it can actually become somewhat comfortable–numb and indifferent. Pleasantly uncaring. While this is true, more is also true. The inner knowing and awareness (some have it, some don’t) that sees just how sad and dangerous this is becoming. When I didn’t understand, I kept sinking deeper with it. So far nowadays, I just float with it until something helps me shift out of it again. Out of it. Such a misleading statement.

Many times I think to myself, one day I won’t have to wake up and all will be well.

Comments and Encouragements

  • Little things, one day at a time
  • Smaller steps, smaller tasks, greater rewards
  • Overcoming doesn’t always mean getting rid of
  • Learn to live with–embrace and adapt
  • Do all you must–Meditate & Medicate
  • Have a team–family, friends, medical
  • Think about contingencies–when the time comes, be prepared
  • Ignore all the advice and wisdom–don’t take it to heart
  • Do what you can, and then a little bit more–Every day
  • It’s okay to take a break
  • Step-by-step – little-by-little – Don’t go big, go steady.

For Families and Friends

First, this list and column references those who are under treatment and recognition for the disease. If this is not you and your loved one, then read up on Getting them Help / Treatment.

  • Stop trying to cure them–that is the doctor’s job
  • Leave advice-giving well enough alone–they already know
  • Do not stress over what you cannot control–otherwise, you add to theirs
  • You may need to work extra hard to support and engage someone who’s depressed. They won’t ask.
  • Find a way to ensure they get help every day
    • A visit and company for a social chat for 30-60 minutes
    • A walk for 60 minutes a few times a week
    • Someone to take them to the gym or swimming pool a couple times a week
    • Take them out grocery shopping
    • Be with them during the difficult chores that they put off and avoid (motivation, energy, it’s all sucked dry)
    • If they’re not cooking or eating well, discuss solutions, bring dishes for freezer, invite them to dinner?
  • Create supportive structures, for you, and for the depressed person
  • Don’t leave it all to one person to support them. Share the load amongst many.
  • Watch out for what you read on the Internet. All feet wear different shoes.
  • Listen. They know what they can do, when they can do it, and when they need to stop.
  • Step-by-Step.

depression

 

References:

9 Best Ways to Support Someone with Depression

Is depression and anxiety best treated with medication or psychotherapy?

Depression: 10 Fascinating Insights into a Misunderstood Condition

Understand Depression with Depression Quest

Don’t forget the sections about Providing Support. To often people want to identify and help someone get treatment, then they think their role is done. The ‘system’ only takes care of the medical side. You are needed more than ever after.

3 comments on A Letter about Depression

  1. It’s always nice to read the truth about depression. I feel very sorry for the writer of this letter, but it’s also good to feel like you’re not alone in the world with these feelings. The worst is when you have no friends, so you feel like you’ll always be depressed. You have nothing to live for and no-one to help you. When I move out from my parents’ house, I’ll finally get a cat 🙂 It’s probably the only thing that can make me happier.

  2. Think everyone should read this letter… I have Bipolar Depression, and schizophrenia… I have been on and off my meds for along time.. No one knows what people are thinking until its to late… I hope that more people read this letter, an I would be HONORED to talk to more people like me… The past few days I’ve been really depressed, and I’m asking for more info about this… I hope to hear from someone else about this…

    Katie you are not alone.. You be strong…

  3. I know I’m a little late to the party (as it were), I wish I had the emotional fortitude to go thru my mail. Of any sort. The mail, that is. Maybe then I could have seen this before I became this. Although as I’ve been learning, while there are certainly triggers, it IS a disease. And sadly one for which there is no vaccine. Point being, chances are, read earlier or not I would still be here now, finding out that somewhere else in the world, just over a year ago, there was another human being suffering so terribly it should be illegal. Suffering as I am now. And I unfortunately don’t have any family left, not even the proverbial “friends that are family” as that subgroup has tired of how perpetually sad I am. Although they will recognize that the challenges I’ve been faced with are indeed challenges, and that they don’t know anyone that could have come through them and lived to tell about it, let alone be able to function in the every day. Though I wouldn’t call it functioning at this point. I’d barely call it surviving. I too wait for the day when perhaps my eyes don’t open and finally all is well. I’m not chasing it mind you. I’ve just lost the ability to see any other way to have a day where all is well. I have danced with this devil before though I don’t think we’ve ever danced as intimately as we are this time around. But I do not chase it because I know the music fades and eventually ends. The fat lady will sing. The orchestra will go down into the deep unforgiving abyss. Still playing at that. But it does stop, if only temporarily. And in those times I will look back and wonder what I was so upset about and why it took so long for me to realize that winter had turned into spring and then summer and how I could have been so weak and lost so much before realizing that regardless of how any of it seemed to me at the time, I was still luckier than many. I will use that clarity to berate myself for not having the strength of spirit to tell that devil that my dance card was full and to keep going for I was not the one. But that guilt and shame will pale in comparison to the despair I felt in those earlier times (right now) and so I will still look forward to it. But very quietly. In the deepest recesses of my mind. I have come to know intimately that disappointment is a result of expectation and therefore I do not expect, or hope, that this time will come. I will merely hold onto the idea of it, cerebrally, and with cautious optimism. And I will decide this today because somewhere else in the world, just over a year ago, someone else felt just like me. And lived to tell about it. (And I stumbled upon it exactly when I was supposed to, and not a moment sooner; as is the way of the universe. Or so wiser souls than mine have written. The clouds will break. The rain will stop. It has to. It just has to. It. Has. To. And so I wait.)

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