I read an article the other day about how a girl cured her depression, after not having much luck with therapy and medication. It was a lot of good advice, along the lines of make yourself do things, let go of unhelpful friends and make new ones, and learn to replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. (That latter is cognitive behavioral therapy, in essence, so apparently therapy did help her?)
It’s the “pick yourself up” cure for depression, and she’s not completely wrong. Those actions can go a long way toward fighting depression, or to simply make it through until it passes on its own.
I could have written much of that piece myself in my 20s and early 30s. Mine would have, of course, included a lot of yoga, exercise and meditation, because those were activities I found very healing and helped me move through some difficult times. I had bouts of moderate to severe depression that I was convinced I had pulled myself out of through sheer effort.
And, naively, I thought everyone should be able to do the same. I thought I would always be able to do the same.
But at some point, no matter what I did, the depression wasn’t lifting. It wasn’t getting better, no matter how much I exercised or took vitamin D or meditated. There were no affirmations that made me feel like I could improve. Meditation usually made me just more aware of how miserable I was.
Long story short, I got treated for depression, for the first time in my life, with medication, and I felt like I’d never felt before. I was really interested in life, in trying new things. Even if there had been times I hadn’t been moderately depressed or worse, I realized I had probably been mildly depressed for the majority of my adult life. I was a diligent worker and resilient. I knew how to work toward goals. I even fell in love during that time, but before I had meds, I had never experienced this sense of openness and willingness to be completely alive and engaged – even with activities I really enjoyed.
That lasted for a short while, and then I thought I was cured for good.
Now I think depression, for me, is something I will have to deal with more as a chronic disease that can go into remission, but is always there, waiting to return. I’ve been having more symptoms of depression recently, and while it hasn’t gotten as bad as it was before, it’s been a struggle to keep up with my daily activities. I haven’t played the guitar in weeks, and that had been something I only recently wrote about as a fun daily activity.
And yes, I am doing all those things that help: talking to my friends, taking positive action, exercising. And it really is helping, but I have to stay vigilant. And if it continues to get worse, I’ll be having a chat with my psychologist sooner than planned.
For those of you who have dealt with depression, was it a one-time cure for you, or did it go into “remission,” and you have to continually work to maintain your equilibrium?