Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 18 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!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I've got a few questions for you. I half-jokingly suggested in a previous post that perhaps my 12+ year ordeal with depression had ended. I don't really believe that, but it got me thinking. What would the end of depression look like? What would it mean to be healed? And how would I know it was over?

I've been feeling well for a few months now. I saw my psychiatrist today, and we had little to discuss. That's always nice. Life is moving forward. Work is fulfilling. I have energy to spare. Running is fun and satisfying. I have meaningful and enjoyable relationships with others. I'm connected to my community and to the world. Does a few months of things going so well mean it's over?

I have no idea if it's over, of course, and truthfully, I spend little to no time thinking about it. I live each day as it presents itself. Worrying about the past or fretting about the future are endeavors on which I cannot afford to waste valuable energy. I figure it would take a few years of feeling well before I'd be comfortable claiming I'm cured. But it is an intriguing question, isn't it?

What would it take for you to feel free of your illness? How would you know it was over? What would it mean to be healed? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.


Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Very intriguing questions!

I think more in terms of remission than cure. I don't think that's a pessimistic view because many people live happy, fulfilling, content lives in remission from very serious illnesses.

I've had depression since I was a young girl. I'm almost 50 now. It has been a part of much of my life, as has OCD. I've had instances of my antidepressants not working as well as before and of the darkness returning for no discernible reason. I think of my journey with depression as a process.

Everyone is different, though. When people say they are cured of depression or OCD, I believe them.

I also think that the more attention we give to the parts of our lives that we know can affect our depression, the more that we take care of ourselves and do the things we know will help us, the better chance we have of staying in remission. I admire how you do the things that you know will help you, consistently.

Fiona said...

I think you both make really valid points. Tina, I had a conversation with my counsellor just last week about remission - we reached the conclusion that it means being a long time symptom free. How long that might be is anyone's guess!!

As to being cured? I don't know. I'm currently recovering from a particularly bad episode, and have yet to have more than 10 good days together. I'd be reluctant to ever believe that I'm completely cured, because every time I've thought I was finished with depression, it came back worse than before.

I think you're right Etta, when you say that your focus is on the present. Spending too much time worrying about whether it will come back might even be the trigger for a relapse! Like you say, feeling connected to others, feeling fulfilled, that's enough. I think anyone who's fought with depression has to just take each day as it comes.

I'm a new reader to your blog, you're doing a great job and thanks for sharing. Hope you continue to be well

etta said...

Thank you both for your thoughts, and welcome, Fiona! Nice to hear from you.
I think you are both on to something when you talk about "remission" rather than "cure."
In reality, like cancer, I think mental illness stays with a person for the long haul. It's just a matter of whether or not it is rearing its ugly head in that moment. I had severe depression as a teenager, and it lasted in various levels of severity into my early twenties. But then I was symptom-free for more than ten years. If you asked me during those ten years, I likely would have said I was cured. It was over. I think I'm a little smarter, or perhaps more leary, now.
While I have an expectation of getting better, of depression leaving me at some point, I probably will always be on guard for its return. That speaks more to remission than cure.
And don't even get me started about medication. If depression-free but still taking medication, does that qualify as remission? It would be an amazing day to be free of depression and free of medication at the same time.
Until that day, if it ever occurs, I will continue living in the moment. I don't want to re-live this journey, but I am grateful for the lessons I've learned through my travels. Things are better today than they have been in years. I know not what tomorrow will bring, but I expect I'll wake up and meet it, just as I did today, and go from there.

Fiona said...

Thanks Etta, and good attitude to have. I dream of medication free!! Not for a long time yet I think. But slowly, slowly, things are getting better, right now that's enough. Anyway, if we were diabetic we wouldn't think twice about taking meds, right?! Whatever it takes :-)

Andy said...

I think that no matter what happens, you can trust that your readers, such as myself, will be thinking of you and encouraging you in both good times and bad. Your courage throughout your journey with depression has been inspirational, and this blog is a small source of solace for me in my own struggle. Stay positive, and be well.