Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 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!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

That sense of desperation

I've been doing this awhile. Since my depression began in November, 2000, I've been through the whole gamut of symptoms and treatments, medications and therapies, and as you know, multiple hospitalizations. I've been through dips, and lulls, and catastrophic crashes in my mood. I've lost time, friends, jobs, and financial stability. Yet I've gained perspective, humility, trusted relationships, and educational opportunities. It's been quite a ride. And while it's not what I envisioned, it is my reality, and I try my best to live through it all with honesty, compassion and integrity.

Despite all these experiences, and especially despite all the depression relapses I've endured, I find myself amazed at the sense of desperation I feel. This is not a new feeling. It's very familiar. I don't always recognize it, but I'm pretty sure it almost always accompanies an extended drop in my mood. I'm noting it today because it's been quite prevalent over the past several days. I don't know any other way to describe it. It's a sense of desperation.

You'd think, with years of this illness under my belt, I'd be better able to ride out the intermittent storms without the sense of panic and doom I currently feel. After all, I've made it this far. History reveals that even my most severe depression episodes have passed 100% of the time. One hundred percent of the time! I've felt hopeless and suicidal. I've been isolated and incapacitated. I've been knocked so low, nobody would have blinked if I hadn't managed to get back up. But I've always gotten back up. So why do I feel so desperate?

I feel scared, alarmed, and surprised by my current symptoms, even though my current symptoms are nowhere near the worst I've ever experienced. I am questioning my ability to function and persevere. I feel hopeless, alone, and lonely, yet I find it impossible to reach out. It's physically painful to be out in public, something I've experienced many times before, but today it's freaking me out. And worst of all, despite all evidence to the contrary, I find myself convinced this episode is not going to pass.

It will pass. It will. I do know that. As uncomfortable as it is in the moment, I know it won't last forever. So why do I feel so desperate? Does anyone else experience this?


HBF said...

Such a good point and I can relate very much to this post!

During my most recent suicidal depression I found myself envisioning the depressions like hurricanes that have blown through my life and recognized that all hurricanes blow themselves out at some point, no matter how big they all end. Yet when I'm in the midst of those episodes that perspective is so hard to believe and hold onto.

The only way I can sum it up is that it's just not my right mind. That's how me and my husband look at it-I'm under the influence of my disease and that's all there is to it.

I know how hard it is to believe in that little glimmer of hope when the darkness tightens its grip but you know your way back to the light, I believe in you, you can do this. No matter how many storms have passed or will come in the future, you are strong. We are strong. We can do this.

Good post. Good luck. Good job. It's hard work hanging in there, I sure know!

etta said...

@ HBF: "under the influence of my disease..." You are so correct. When my depression symptoms rear their ugliness upon me, my brain isn't quite right, and therefore neither is my thinking. I forget that sometimes. Thank you so much for the reminder and for your very supportive comment. I really appreciate it.

Ela said...

I can relate very much to this. I know rationally that 'this too shall pass', but when I'm in the middle of an episode, it's hard not to envision my own doom and destruction.

Anonymous said...

I recognize every word in this post. Sometimes it terrifies me how absolutely certain my suicidal thoughts are when I'm deepest in my depression. Even though I know I will eventually cycle out of it (or at least up a little way from the depth of it), when I have it the worst, I won't acknowledge that. I know it, but I wont acknowledge it. That's the most dangerous time for me. I'm really frightened by that reality.

In addition, a hurricane will pass, but the damage it can leave behind might never be recovered from. Each time I fall into the depths I realize that I'm never really going to escape it. I'm not sure about this "right mind" discussion. I've been fighting depression for 50 years (literally), and I suspect it has become my "right mind." It is my norm. It is who I am.

Can you tell I'm not in a good place right now?

Amy said...

Etta - I agree so much with HBF. When I've had really, really bad bouts of depression (Mine isn't as chronic but I've been diagnosed with "Episodic Depression" and those episodes can be doozies), that desperate feeling can be overwhelming. Which makes sense because you....the you beyond your brain....can feel the black cloud of the storm descending and you're trying everything you can to get away from it. It's so difficult to know you're just going to have to go through it - wait it out while it does it's thing - and then finally see the light of day again. I've found myself just holding onto tables and the wall, just to try to ground myself onto *something* to give myself some feeling of control - kinda the ultimate desperation there I think. ;-)

Also - yes, the terrain of your life might have changed a bit once the hurricane has passed, but it can create new, beautiful landscape in it's wake. You can rebuild the parts of you pretty quickly that need some reconstruction, and there might be some parts that you have no need for anymore and can be replaced with something else more useful. Like..even more love, compassion, strength, and understanding.

You'll find your way through to the sun, you always do. And you'll find some hurricane lamps of light as you wait out the storm. They're there.

etta said...

Thank you ALL for these comments! You have no idea what a huge difference each of them has made for me. I believe feeling alone or worse, UNIQUE, is an incredibly dangerous space in which to reside, at least for me. You all remind me I am not alone, and I am certainly not unique. While we each may have unique symptoms, our experience of depression is a shared one. Our thoughts and feelings as a result of our illness, based on your comments, are actually quite similar. Thank you for helping me feel less alone. It is comforting to know my experience is not an isolated one.

Julie Gathman said...

The comments above from HBF, Ela, Paul, and Amy were extremely helpful for learning about the inside of depression. Those of us without depression just do not know the enormous things going on inside a person when you have depression and it is acting up.

Amy, you mention even being able to redeem the bad times and create something good out of them. There's hope there! Hang on, everyone. Redemption can happen.

Wendy Love said...

I feel the exact same way when depression hits again. It's like I get depressed about being depressed. And even though, like you, I know I have survived and recovered from worst episodes, it still seems in that moment that I am in the worst episode ever and I won't recover.
All I can do is do the things that help, rest, do something I enjoy like walking and endure the episode until the darkness lifts once again. It helps when I talk to myself and say 'you've been worse that this before. Even though this seems bad, this bad is way better than your old bads. Don't give up.'