A Follow Up on Depression
I wrote last week about a day in the life of depression. The response to my post was tender, warm and in part, concerned. Thank you to everyone who sent hugs and questions and to those who shared their own struggles. I wrote the post to illuminate the mysteries of depression. To help others understand. And to hopefully help others who suffer from depression as I do.
Depression obviously sucks. But if I have to deal with it, which apparently I do, I’d rather have the experience which allows me to deal with it effectively. Because I’ve had the disease for about 20 years, I understand it and the way it works. I can now see it trying to sneak up on me. I can see it lingering in the dark, and then trying to pull the shadows over my way.
In a comment on my post, Big Little Wolf asked, “Perhaps the followup question is how to claw one’s way back.” Indeed.
When I finally realized I was depressed, I started the tough work of clawing my way back. My first stop? A therapist. I found the process of finding a therapist exhausting. I decided to interview therapists until I found the right fit. I had no idea when I started how tough this process would be. You see, I am a very private person (you might be surprised to learn this since I frequently splay myself all over this page, but I am). And each time I met with a potential therapist, I had to tell my story. I can now see the catharsis in the process; at the time, however, it was grueling. This exhaustive process was well worth-it; I found Dr. G. I spent many hours with my dear psychiatrist. She provided the perfect mixture of care, neutrality and talent.
At our first meeting, Dr. G said, “You’re depressed.” Since that meeting over 15 years ago, I’ve taken antidepressants. At first I resisted taking the meds. I believed my need for the medication highlighted my failure; even last year I still felt this. Once I clawed through that murky mess, I realized that the opposite was true. I found strength in my decision and profound power in antidepressants. With them, I function. Without them, I don’t.
In my early years, the combination of talk therapy and careful medication titration were my salves.
The next step on my recovery came many years later when I took the shackles off of my story. Slowly, I started sharing my life’s experience with depression. If you’d have told me when I was 23 that I’d not only talk about my depression, but write about it in a public forum, I’d have laughed you out of the room. But I now know that sharing helps me heal. I believe it helps us all heal.
Now, I have many, many good days. . Yes, depression (and it’s side-kick, anxiety) are still are part of my life. But because I’m a seasoned pro, I understand what I need to do:
I talk whenever I need to and plumb the inside of any emotion. Just the simple act of saying, “I’m sad” brings light into those darker spots.
I take antidepressants.
I exercise. Studies have proven that exercise is a viable, powerful tool in alleviating depressive symptoms. Boy howdy does it. I crave the effect exercise has on my well-being and brain.
I soak up the sun. A friend recently told me that in the winter, she follows her cat around the house because she knows her cat will lead her to the sunshine. Earlier this week, I found myself wedged between the couch and the back door because I found a warm ray of sun there. I crawled in and let the sun work its magic.
Thank you to everyone who reached out after reading my last post. Thank you to those who shared your own stories. To all of us, and to all of our struggles and triumphs. Thank you.