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!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Isolation hurts

I've mentioned it more than once. You guys routinely mention it, especially recently. So I guess it's time to talk more about it. It is isolation. Depression. It is so isolating. No matter how open I am about my illness, depression leaves me feeling detached, alone, and different. Whether at home alone, sitting in a room full of patients and coworkers, or participating in a busy, friendly outing or get together, I feel isolated. Isolation is painful.

Unfortunately, my isolation is only increasing with each passing day. The longer this depression episode continues, the more painfully detached I feel. Here's the thing. People, by nature, want to help. But people, by nature, also expect (consciously or unconsciously) to get something positive from their efforts. Despite all of the words of wisdom, the encouragement, and the hugs I've received from friends and professionals, I've had very little positive to offer them in return. I can't tell them I'm better, which I'm sure is frustrating.

If it's frustrating for me, it's got to be frustrating for them. As a result I find myself wanting to reach out to others less and less. The longer this depression episode lasts, the less I want to talk and the less I think my friends, family and even professionals want to hear. It's human nature. When they don't see any changes from their efforts, listening to my woes must become more tiresome and more burdensome. What else can they do? We've done it all. Despite hospitalizations, med changes, ECT treatments, and talk therapy, I continue to feel so, so low it's hard to imagine continuing forward.

This morning the painful isolation really got to me. I had to leave work before I even signed in. I began crying on my drive to the office. I stopped at a friend's house within blocks of my facility. I cried, we talked, and I attempted to pull myself together. Ten minutes later my friend sent me on my way and I soon walked into my office. I was 30 minutes late and feeling fragile, but I thought I could do it. I was wrong. Feeling like an idiot and totally overwhelmed, I sat in my office in despair with tears rolling down my cheeks. My assistant was kind enough to find my supervisor, and with her permission I left.

After a few hours home in bed, I returned to work this afternoon. There were simply too many patients who needed to be seen for me to miss an entire day. Somehow I made it through four hours of patient care. Now I'm home again feeling exhausted and alone. Nothing else has been accomplished today, but nobody wants to hear that. It is what it is. I'd like to sleep a long, dark, quiet sleep. It seems there's nothing else to do. At least I'm out of ideas. I'm tired. I'm alone. And I don't want to talk about it anymore. I just want it, depression, to go away.


Truth Needed 9 said...

That sounds just awful. How you can continue to provide patient care is beyond me. You are right, at a point, people want you "fixed" or better. It is hurtful and suggests a lack of understanding.
Has your team looked at options like rTMS, ketamine, or the latest on hallucinogens like psilocybin or MDMA. Are they in touch with new clinical drug trials? They can't just say "we tried everything; you're treatment resistant" and that's that...

The Real McCoy said...

Sadly, I can relate to all these feelings. Days when I stay home from work because I can't stop crying when I get up in the morning. Not wanting to talk to anyone, because what could they possibly say that could help, and aren't I just burdening them? Just wanting the depression to go away.

I've been in quite the funk myself lately, and knowing that alleviating my depression requires me to WORK at it, just makes it more painful. I don't want to work. I want someone to just take care of me. But that's not sustainable or realistic, and won't help in the long run.

Sorry that I don't have words of wisdom, or even much encouragement, but I wanted to let you know that I truly sympathize.

Jules said...

Dear Etta, My heart hurts for you. I've been following your blog for quite some time now and can no longer hold my tongue and want to offer any help I can. I too suffered with MDD for many years off and on (early 20's-late 40's). I pray for you everyday and so admire your ability to write in the midst of your worst episodes. You have no idea how you are helping your readers. What may be encouraging for you, and I was totally surprised by it, was after I went through menopause I no longer struggle with this disease from hell. Can't explain it...maybe mine was hormonal related. I am a nurse and researched everything I could find on MDD. Have you tried all the natural remedies such as 5-HTP, fish oil, and SAM-e in conjunction with your meds? During and since menopause I take fish oil everyday. I in no way want to sound glib or like a "Jesus Freak" (I want to throw any tool I can your way to help you fight this disease) but I became a deeply spiritual person - Christian. Jesus is a personal savior and the more I got to really know Him (through His written word) the more I realized the power that scripture holds. When an episode would hit (and it did often), instead of having only my sick, compromised brain and cognitive therapy tools to get me through, I had Jesus to go to and His word with the many comforting and encouraging scriptures the Bible holds. When I would feel totally overwhelmed, scared, and hopeless, I meditated on the scriptures that I memorized and they would carry me through. It was yet another very helpful weapon in my arsenal to fight this hellish disease. Why a loving God would allow such a horrendous disease - I will never understand. But we live in a fallen world and so I cling to the promise in Revelation 21:4 (NKJV) "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” And that, my dear Etta, really can have hope in.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jules,

I am also a fellow person who is figthing this sickness and I really appreciate your opinion on this. However I feel that when you really go deep into thinking about religions, you get pretty much disillusioned about everything. This might be different if you have grown up with being really really religious.

I have the feeling that Etta faces a time right now which cannot be influenced by external sources at all. Sure, some encouragement can ( and should ) be provided, but the real change can only happen because of an emotional impact which really makes an impression on the inside.

Jules said...

Hi Anonymous, Thank you for your opinion as well. I do agree with you. I have been in a place during many of my episodes when nothing could pierce the darkness. Stringing together a sentence and pondering a thought was an effort in futility. All I could do was keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep breathing. It sounds like that may be where Etta is in her fight right now. With that said, I was just sharing with her what helped me literally survive my hell. All the best to you.

Wendy Love said...

I totally get it, the isolation, the tears, the thinking that maybe you can do something and you get there and the tears come and you realize you are still not well.
The good news though is that you actually thought you might be well enough and you tried.
So maybe you are actually making some headway?
The other positive thing I am observing is that clearly you are experiencing some sort of perspective, enough to write this post.
Usually when I am at my worst, I have little perspective or what I do have makes no sense. You are making sense.
You are probably improving more than you realize but just not as fast as you would like. I know that feeling too.
Don't give up, you will make it through, just like you have before.