Category Archives: mental health

Is there ever really a cure for depression?

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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 nevdepression-sitting-silhouette-cliparter 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?

Letting go

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via I Suppose I Should Fight — A Glimpse Inside of a Troubled Mind

 

This really struck me just now, going through my blog reader. The way the best sayings do when they speak to your heart… I am holding on to regrets, expectations, and judgment- mostly of myself.

 

Medication helps so, so much. You know, it’s easier to let go when I’m feeling balanced and present. Which is a really hard state to maintain when you’re depressed or anxious. The mind will latch on to anything to validate the negative in that state, as if it’s searching for a logical explanation: why do I feel this pain? Why am I so sad?

 

It’s been interesting, since I started the afternoon dose a month ago, I’ve started to notice when the morning dose is wearing off. At first I noticed the physical symptoms, the heaviness and deep fatigue, the sense I cannot pull myself through this life with any sort of grace.

 

As I’ve become more aware of this shift in the day, I’ve noticed the earlier symptoms. A vague restlessness, the itch to get away from whatever I’m doing, usually work. I work in a fitness center, and everything starts to seem louder and more grating. I will take more frequent bathroom breaks, thinking, “I just need to get out of here.”

 

Or if I’m somewhere else, like driving, I suddenly can’t stand the radio anymore, or that a car is following too closely. The thought pattern here is, “I just can’t deal. I can’t.”

 

These thoughts and symptoms all but stop when I take my meds straight away. Which is a little scary. In that I’m soooo not in control of my brain. I have always stubbornly thought enough exercise, deep breathing, mindfulness or meditation would “fix” me. The last year had taught me that wasn’t entirely true. The last few weeks have driven it home.

 

I can help myself with all those activities and practices, and I DO, but nothing has helped as much as meds, and they help radically.

 

They help me to let go of what isn’t helpful.

 

But now I need to let go of expectations, and trust this process. I have set the bar pretty low, I guess. I just wanted to regain some interest in life, and some happy moments. And I did, but I was far from well… and I don’t know how well I am now, to be honest, though I am definitely better.

 

Maybe I could still feel better than this, and maybe I could be not just interested in life, but excited about it? I don’t know.

 

Maybe.