My Depression Feels Unreal
There are times when the reality of the illness I live with, Major Depressive Disorder, feels unreal. There are times when it seems like a distant memory and as if perhaps the previous suicide attempts and months of darkness never happened. This is one of those times.
I Want to Disown Depression
I feel removed from this illness, almost with a tinge of guilt, as if I want to disown it. The dark times of my past, even times where I have teetered close to another episode in not so distant history, feel like they are no longer a part of me. There is a desire to remove myself from the diagnosis, to claim, "I am healed!" But I know better. I know after almost 20 years of living with it, that my days could be numbered. The truth is that I must stay self-protected and guard myself in appropriate ways so as to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I possibly can. Do I dare dream it could be forever?
Staying on the Good Side of Depression
Approaching 5 years since my last and most serious suicide attempt, it feels great to know that I have come so far... and it's tempting to shrug off the shroud of the label, the diagnosis that occasionally feels like it is haunting me. I know, though, that even just a few months ago, I felt the darkness knocking at my door, begging for me to let it in. I am fortunate that I was able to step beyond the shadows and live in the light of a life free of a major depressive episode. I attribute this to continued care by a good physician, a continuous effort on my part to learn more about myself and my coping mechanisms, and my desire to continue to make efforts to self-improve and learn new techniques for living well. I also attribute this to the community I have online for support and and encouragement, a connection to others who understand, as well as the ability to write about my personal challenges and triumphs, no matter how small they may seem to others.
I am currently experiencing a time of unusually high stress. Life has been turned upside-down and inside-out more than once in a matter of about 3 months. I have experienced at least 3 of life's most stressful events: divorce, job loss, and moving, in this period of time. I can see my own resiliency but also see ways in which I begin to suffer at times like these. Life becomes more cloudy, priorities are more difficult to keep in line and obligations are heavier on my shoulders, sometimes paralyzing me into inactivity. And yet, I have stepped beyond these limitations and have found new paths to take and continue to work towards refocusing and renewal, something I may not have been able to do in years past. I can see my strengths shining through beyond my weaknesses and that feels good.
A History of Depression Doesn't Have to Be a Detriment
My journey towards healing and health is ongoing. There is a temptation still to say, "I've arrived". While I may want to dispose of my diagnosis at times and all that goes with it, I accept that it is part of my life experience. It is a real and true health risk that I am predisposed to and if I am not careful I could succumb to it again. As soon as I stop living like that is the reality, I put myself at much greater risk. The benefit of holding on to this truth is much greater than any reward I would gain by claiming I no longer live with depression. I always live with depression. The skeletons are in my closet (and posted online!) and the hard core truth is that I am a person who will always need to keep this part of my life in check. I am only a few steps away from a depressive episode at any given moment, and that is just my reality.
I don't want to see this as a detriment but rather a barometer to healthy living. I can accept this about my life and my health and continue to thrive and grow despite of it and because of it. It doesn't need to be a shameful experience or a cloak of impending doom. It is a good measure for me, a guidepost of sorts. I choose to utilize the warning signs of depression as a road map steering me towards better mental health.
Kiel, A. (2011, July 12). My Depression Feels Unreal, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/depressiondiaries/2011/07/my-depression-feels-unreal
Author: Amy Kiel
Reading this just makes me feel like a have no hope. I'm in a marriage barely surving on maois that don't work and . Wife doesn't understand. You want me to accept that I can't have a normal life. Just thinking this is tormenting me. I too afraid of changing meds cause I've tried most . How I not supposed to not panic?? Triggers are killing me. I having extremely diff seeing the good in my life cause I have no job and picture losing everything?
This is November 2012 and I am just getting these blogs how can I actively participate in the discssions. My Doc. has not told me what it is that I suffer from I only know that that I am on medication- anti psychotic Ican only share how I feel with my ex- husband, everyone else would be afraid of me and ridicle me
Anyway, life is full up with provocative and desperate moments, that grows us to feel often along life depressed. But depression as psychiatric entity is distinguish from common feeling of affliction compromising seriously global functioning if respective patient. Even the optimistic and hopeful attitude of depressive patient notes a good step to dealing with depression, as is Your personal example Ms Kiel, it must to medicates adequately any type of depressive disorder. Such is value to major depression to which You are ill. Indeed, in parallel with positive standpoint of lifestyle the depressed ill patient should comprehensively to accept and to apply the recommendation of psychiatrist, especially these on medication. Without taking with regularity and for long time the antidepressant therapy, the probability to cure major depression are next to nothing, because in essence there is chemical disorders on the brain that should to correct. Hence, antidepressant drugs in this direction plays the main role.
Wow,It's like you were reading my mind or living my life. If I put together 3,or 6 or 9 months with no down episode,I want to shout to my doctors that I am cured,I dont need meds or therapy. Then stress gets to me and pulls that depression back out. Then I do something dumb like binge drink myself into a stupor. I just dont want to admit that I cant drink and that this bipolar II/depression will allways be with me. I love this blog,very helpful.
Your post is so close to how I feel that it’s scary. I’m diagnosed with bipolar II and most of my bad times are spent in depression. I’m currently on disability and feel as if I’m a burden to my family. I’ve had to lean on them a lot in the last several years. Now that I’ve been feeling better for the last six months or so, I’m starting to feel almost guilty. “I’m fine” or “am I really sick”, has started creeping into my mind. I have to continually remind myself that it’s because of the changes in my life, recently, that I’m doing so well. It’s just hard to not feel guilty for leaning on so many people for help when I’m feeling ok.
I know exactly how you feel. I have lived with bipolar for about 14 years and most of those years I was in denial of having anything wrong with me even though I was in and out of hospitals. The last year I have finally made it a point to learn about this disorder and admit to myself that I do have a disorder that can affect my life in unbelievable ways. I have tethered on the line asking myself who am i, am I this high energized enthusiastic person, this sad depressed and hopeless person, am I this disorder? It is a part of me and it influences my choices but now that I have accepted that it won't just go away it doesn't have control of me as it used to.
A powerful post Amy. After all my years with depression I can also now use the warning signs to guide me back, and ask for help when needed. It's SO easy to slip back into a dark place, especially with stressors like the ones you have going on (I'm sorry!) but I'm so glad you can look at it from a healthy perspective and not let it pull you back down. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much for your comment! It is great to be able to use those signs and symptoms as ways to recognize our needs, for it is so easy to slip back. Thank you for sharing!