Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The symptom of thinking

No resolution yet to this most recent mind-numbing, purposeless rut. But maybe a reprieve... Yesterday, I swam. Today, I ran. Two consecutive days of exercise, and yet I still feel bad. That's the mind-numbing part. Even when I take positive steps to take care of myself, the satisfaction which would normally follow is stolen quickly away. I'm left in a blank stare thinking, "and what was the purpose of that?"
Depression is a clever demon. It steals the meaning from the meaningful. Strips the purpose from the purposeful. Life becomes a slow series of steps, literal steps, one foot in front of the other, with no reason for the journey nor reward at the end. So I ask again, "What's the point?"
Intellectually, I know exactly the point. My brain knows there is purpose even where I feel none. My mind is numb, but my brain knows. My brain, as if detached and looking in on the scene, answers the question as I methodically remove my sweaty running gear. "This is helpful," it says, "even though your body won't let you know. You have to keep moving forward. You'll only feel worse if you stop." That's been one of the few times my brain has been able to squeeze a word in lately...
Depression is clever and consuming. It normally boxes out those rational thoughts. I assume, after swimming, or running, or cleaning that I will feel the satisfaction of my accomplishment. A sliver of pride, maybe? Not so when depression is running the show. No matter how positive the steps I take, depression bombards me with unrelenting disparaging, derogatory, and demoralizing thoughts. There is no room for rationality nor emotion when depression's thoughts consume me.
It took me a long time to learn and trust that these horrible, put-down thoughts are actually a symptom of this illness. Sneaky depression! The thoughts are mine, aren't they? If we listen to most people, depression is the result of our negative thinking--our own character defect. (Hence, the popular fallacy that we can cure depression by smiling and thinking happy thoughts!) But it's not true! Finally, after 6+ years of illness, millions of hours of therapy, multiple hospitalizations, and countless treatment regimens, I learned that these all-consuming, horrid thoughts are a symptom not a personality flaw.
A symptom, not a personality that's a thought!


Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff. It's so simple, like all those saying in AA that I never got until I got it. I've only been (back) blogging for a couple of months but I think this is my favorite post so far. Thank you.

etta said...

Thank you CHB. That is quite a compliment. I do write better when I feel bad. Weird, huh? Glad the post resonated with you. Hope it helps in the future when your illness attempts to use your own thoughts to drag you into the hole.