Thursday, July 31, 2008

Personally: Depression

Depression sucks. Not surprising since that's sort of what it stands for. Depression = sucks. What really sucks is that people such as myself...that are perky, smiling, "glass half full," optimists are indeed touched by depression.

I've talked to quite a few people over the years who just didn't get it. I might mention that I was feeling depressed (to a family member, boyfriend, someone close) and then be asked, "What's wrong? What are you depressed about." And that's the hell of it...there is no "why" there's only "when." Depression happens; it may happen because of a specific stressor that triggers it or it might roll around of its own accord and land on my head without asking first. Either way it's frustrating. Quite honestly I don't have anything to be depressed about, but I am.

Luckily for me, I've lived with it long enough (it started rearing its ugly head when I was 9) that I know how to fight it. I know how to deal with. I know to notify the people close to me that it's here and to steer clear. How do I deal?
  • Keep busy. Whether it's work, writing, driving aimlessly, or spending time with friends, I have to stay busy. I get depressed far less often and with far less drama if I'm busy. Therefore, I stay busy. Almost always.
  • Write. The double edged sword is that depression makes me not want to write.
  • Keep moving. Another reason this new exercise obsession is a very good thing. It helps clear my head of any self-doubt and self-destructive thoughts. Even if it's not exercise, if I can get outside my house and go somewhere, I feel much better.

What does it feel like? It feels like the worst boredom. I can't even describe it to you. I lose interest in the things I like: books, movies, socializing, being vibrant. I'm antsy. It's hard to get through my responsibilities because I would literally much rather sleep for days than do anything. Anything that can help me feel free and light is an antidote. And knowing that this cloud will pass over, I just have to get through the days (or weeks or months...usually just days at this point in my life...it was much worse when I was younger) until it lifts. I try not to think about "big picture" things. Just small things. Go for this walk. Swim for a while. Talk to a friend. Do a little work. Watch some mindless TV. Cry if it helps. Save the sleeping for the proper time of night. This feeling might be gone tomorrow.

I don't take drugs for it. I did for a while...Zoloft. But, quite honestly, it's expensive, and I don't have insurance at the moment. Learning to deal has helped a lot, and it comes around far less often than it used to. This is going to be one of the big challenges in working from home. Honestly I have far too much free time on my hands right now. Once school starts I hope it's a far less looming possibility.

Until then, I just go. "Just go" is my motto these days. I could keep this quiet and never talk about it, but I choose to keep it out in the open to some extent. Mostly because I hope someone who doesn't understand will read and get a better picture of the struggle going on in a depressed person's head. I constantly ask myself (even though I know the truth is that it just happens) "Why am I feeling this way? Why? I should just snap out of it!" Maybe my hypothetical reader's teenager or even grown child says, "Mom, I feel kind of....depressed...I think." Realize that it happens to what some people consider the most unlikely candidates. There may be a reason, or not. It's not fun, it's not glamorous, it's just confusing and hard. But, it can be dealt with in a variety of ways. It's different for everybody, but this is the way I am.

25 comments:

  1. I'm with you, Andi. About 5 years ago I went through a horrible months-long depression that I was really afraid I would never snap out of. Like you, bouts have plagued me most of my life, but that one was the worst, and thankfully I've not had one like that since. And it's especially hard if you're normally a lighthearted, smiley kind of girl. My advice to add to your list is to be honest with yourself when you go through the inevitable self-analysis. Be honest about your strengths and be honest about your faults, especially to yourself. That's the only way real growth and beneficial changes can occur.

    And if you need a quick smile, I do have the review for Snuff out on my blog now. :-)

    Hugs, my friend!
    Lezlie

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  2. Ok, I am fixin' to play Dr. Presley, It could be hormones. Some of the symptoms you describe sound similar to what I have experienced over the past few years (for me menopause). There were days right before Madame X came to town that I would get out of bed and this icky feeling would just flood all over me, would feel very fatigue, just get into a funk, and go back to bed. It didn't last long but while it did I just did not want to be in polite society or anything. Like you I would just go with the flow. You know sometimes I think a person's body know what it needs, just plain know what to do and a person should just go with the flow (unless of course it becomes dangerous) and runs its course. So stay in bed and dream about taking over the world as a librarian superhero. Hey, if you do become a librarian, are you going to start wearing twin sets with the cardigan part slung over your shoulders, wear glasses that are pointed on the ends hanging from a chain, and have a cat behind the counter thingy?

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  3. Andi, that post almost perfectly captures how I feel about getting depressed. I'm generally a happy, optimistic person, usually the person my friends rely on for support, so when it hits me, it's confusing not only for me but also for the people in my life.

    I think your tips for getting through it are really helpful. I just try to be patient with myself, and get through it day by day.

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  4. I think one of the hardest parts of depression is not understanding in. And by this I mean a lack of understanding on the depressed person's behalf, on the part of "outsiders" or people who are not depressed and even the medical professionals. Thankfully the medical professionals have made major strides in figuring this thing out, but the truth is, it's probably always going to be part mystery to us all.

    The best part in your case Andi, is that you've identified it and that the people you surround yourself with are supportive and understanding.

    I'll include myself in the category of being a little ignorant when it comes to the subject but I think we can all agree that we've been depressed to some extent in our lives, no matter how deeply and I think we can all agree that no matter how depressed you are, it sucks!

    I hope you feel better soon Andi. Continue to stay positive and keep yourself busy and keep looking at the little Daisy who will for sure help you out of your slump! I'm thinking about you.

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  5. I understand your sentiments completely.

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  6. Sending a smile your way! :)

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  7. Right there with you. It started at 11 for me and has come and gone regularly. My husband always thinks there's a reason and tries to 'fix' things, but even after 8 years he doesn't understand that there is no why. Here's to one day at a time.

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  8. It sounds like you do have a handle on it and I think that's already part of the solution. I've seen friends/family who are clearly depressed but deny it. There's almost no way to help them. Wishing you well and sending you some good vibes!

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  9. I thought I've been in depression since I'm an adult! I mean, relationship is what makes me depressed. I try to distract myself from thinking about the failed relationship and unrequited love--watching movies, going on road trip, traveling (that can get expensive), reading lots of books, and just keeping myself busy. I think I have learned to let go of the relationship woes and arrange myself in a way that will make myself happy.

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  10. "I might mention that I was feeling depressed (to a family member, boyfriend, someone close) and then be asked, "What's wrong? What are you depressed about." And that's the hell of it...there is no "why" there's only "when."

    I know. And this really can be so hard to explain.

    I hope the clouds don't take too long to pass. *hugs*

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  11. Andi,
    Don't forget the love and good writing you share with all of us as one of your "positive" contributions. You sound like you really know what to do when you are depressed, but don't forget that mood changes are the hallmark of the human mind. Give yourself a pat on the back for the pleasure you give your readers (like your latest offering at Biblio Buffet)!
    One your fans, Martha Ford

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  12. Depression is in my family. I used to have a problem with it in my 20s, but not so much now. I lost a brother to suicide, so I think I was determined not to end up like him. Talk about waking you up.

    You are right - it sucks. I hope you feel better and keep busy. Keep exercising.

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  13. That sounds about right :p Seriously, though, I'm on Zoloft myself. The number one sign there was something wrong was when I had absolutely zero interest in reading. It's a scary thing. Thank you for sharing.

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  14. I have been on Zoloft for years. I believe my depression is chemical because it came on after I had my girls. If I go off the Zoloft, I can't function. I totally can identify with how you are feeling. Hang in there.

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  15. I really like your "just go" motto - everyone has to work out what works for them - or at least helps you get through the really dark/rough times.

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  16. Your post hits home, Andi. Depression runs in my family and I've been dealing with it myself at least since I was in my teens. Medication helps and I'm doing fine, though winters tend to be harder. I made some more and less radical decisions, from learning to say no and going by my instinct to emigrating to another country (sounds like it's not the smartest thing to do when you're depressed, but it worked for me). On the surface I am this social, cheerful woman, but underneath always lurks the dark side of me. It probably always will, it's part of who I am, I suppose, but I am dealing with it as best I can.

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  17. You sum up depression really well. It's so frustrating to feel depressed but not to be able to pin point a reason why or have a root cause you can explain to someone. It's so easy to get in a spiral as well and to become more lazy and introverted making the depression even worse.

    I hope your coping methods work for you. I am finding exercise to be a good one as well at the moment. It gets your adrenaline pumping and gives you a great excuse to leave the house (I always have difficulty with this when depressed).

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  18. I am especially glad I read all of these posts. although I have kind of experienced the funk, mine had a reason. I have to admit that I am/was one of those people who thought that there was a particular reason someone was depressed. When #1 son was depressed after his divorce, I took him down to see a doctor because I was concerned for him. He was placed on medication and things seemed to get a bit better. One day he and #3 child went to get his kids for visitation and #3 said that #1 was depressed, and I, the cause and effect person said why, what is wrong? Isn't the medication working? In my mind, I guess I thought that since he was on medication all would be well. I turns out that there was something amiss--it was the anniversary (father's day) of when his ex-wife asked for a divorce. But I ignorantly thought that the medication he was on was going to fix everything and I guess he would never be depressed again. After reading all of these posts and my son's experiences, it has occured to me that we have a lot to learn about depression.

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  19. It happens to all of us. I suffer through days and weeks with it but much like you I find that writing helps a lot. Good luck... it'll all be ok... I know you know that but it helps me sometimes when people re-affirm it.

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  20. I'm in the same boat you are. And I know exactly what you mean when you say it just happens. But I'm bipolar, and I've been put on a cocktail of drugs to stabilize my moods. I don't get sad, though; I get *enraged* when I'm in my funk, for no apparent reason. And this happens every single month, like clockwork. It'll be like every little thing sets me off, and I just snapping at people, no matter who you are; I've snapped at my boss, in front of other bosses, which probably earned me a few "Who do you think you are?" kind of looks. I'll even respond to compliments with something nasty; at the very least, I'll give the complimenter a dirty look.

    One thing I've noticed that my blogging often reveals my moods. If I have a sudden spate of posts, I'm in my up mood. If I go silent for a week or more, I'm down.

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  21. I'm right there with you girl! I'm just now coming out of a depression that has lasted nearly a year. Hang in there!

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  22. As you say depression sucks and I'm with you on the exercise front as well because I know how much this helped me when I've had similar problems. I also think you're right to keep writing as well. A friend of mine was once told by Louis de Berniere (Captain Corelli's Mandolin) to write about everything she was feeling when she was in depression and I know how much it helped her. Take care, and know that we're all here for you.

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  23. Great post! Too many people think depression is just feeling down about something. I went through a long phase when I started college... and I can still remember how it made me feel inside... just completely empty and collapsed. Unable to do anything.

    I was lucky, it passed after a while, but I've seen what it can do to a person. Yeah, depression sucks.

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  24. While I'm sad to hear you're depressed, I'm glad you have coping strategies in place. The most important step is acknowledging it. I hope this bout passes soon. It's interesting to read all the responses as well - it always amazes me how many people experience this. Whenever I've gotten depressed the feeling of being alone, being isolated, is the almost the worst part. It's good to be reminded how prevalent this is (how, really, getting depressed is at times an appropriate response to life's ups and downs!).

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  25. It sounds like you have great coping mechanisms in place. Very few people in my life know that I occasionally suffer from depression. They just don't get it that a normally upbeat, cheerful, always happy person can actually get depressed. To this day, my parents just think I'm having a bad day when it rears its head.

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