What's Life Like with Severe Major Depression
My story of severe, recurrent major depression. Living and coming out of a sad world of detachment and loneliness.
My name is Jackie, I was diagnosed with severe, recurrent major depression just three years ago at the age of 42. I have always been depressed and lived my life in a sad world of detachment and loneliness. Being depressed does not necessarily mean having no optimism nor the lack of ability to overcome major difficulties, it's an ever-present feeling of heaviness in heart that in me, stunted my growth in all facets of my life.
What Does Depression Look Like?
Depression is an illness that is unseen by the naked eye, and unseen even under microscopic view. What people can't see, doesn't exist, unless you're the one suffering.
In 1998, at the age of 38, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and along with a mastectomy received six rounds of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy has changed my body chemistry causing my depression to become more severe and I have also been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. My world got darker (black actually in my mind). I saw no light and felt no light. I found a very good psychotherapist and it has taken 3 years to find the right combination of drugs (7 different drugs) that I take daily so that my brain chemistry functions as close to "normal" as possible.
Antidepressants and Psychiatric Medications Gave Me a Life
For me, taking antidepressant medication means the difference between staying in bed and getting out of bed in the morning. It means the difference between being able to get up after a difficult day, when I really just want to stay down; it means being able to focus enough to work my way through the difficulties of my life in order to achieve success (for me). It means having the desire to feel love and being able to openly admit that and learning how to give and receive love. It means the difference between laughing with exuberance for at least those moments when I laugh, than to not laugh at all - always being serious. It means being able to admit where my weaknesses are as a human being and being willing to do the work to change and experience the peace that comes from making that effort and achieving steps towards that goal.
Antidepressant Medications: Expectations vs. Reality
When I started the antidepressant medication, my expectations did not coincide with the reality of what the depression medication is meant to do. Others have brains whose chemistry releases in proper amounts at proper times from the proper places and the signals get sent to the proper destination eliciting the intended response for that part of the brain and circumstance. But those people still have to work at doing and being, becoming and evolving into who they were meant to be. I personally do not believe that antidepressants cause people to commit suicide or think more about suicide. I think they are administered by well-meaning physicians who have never experienced depression, don't know the actual physical feeling of the changes in the brain chemistry, don't understand what the person receiving the antidepressants expectations are (or the expectations of those around that person).
Someone who is depressed is already acutely aware that those around them consider them someone who falls short of where they should be as a person, and the person with depression has one foot in life and one foot out of life all the time. So when they take the medication and they don't understand that it will help them train their brain - not be a miraculous drug in the sense of being in euphoria or all-of-a-sudden having friends and/or meeting the expectations of those we love, yes, suicide would seem to be the answer. But I do not believe it is the drug.
We need very desperately to begin mentoring programs - programs where someone who is depressed but with antidepressant medication has learned what the potential of their brain is and is content with that; can provide a genuine acceptance, total understanding and validation to the person beginning on the meds; someone who knows exactly how they're feeling; is someone to call with those deep questions that others are afraid of and can help them to work thru them; which, in the meantime, is teaching them the skills to work thru everyday problems and major life crises in a way that fits the natural bent of their personality (not scientifically put together solutions).
I do not believe a counselor, psychotherapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist can do this part of the healing of process. The mentor should not take the place of any of the professionals, but work side-by-side with them so that all angles are covered for the person in need. If not, the depressed person is really still alone. (especially children ages 0-21). If anyone who reads this and is in a position to help begin such a mentoring program -or try one, please contact me at jlv998 AT yahoo.com. We lose children to depression, we don't need to lose them thru the medication that is supposed to -and absolutely can - help them.
Ed. note: This is a personal depression story and reflects this one individual's experience with depression and depression treatment. As always, we urge you to check with your doctor before making any changes in your treatment.
Staff, H. (2009, April 20). What's Life Like with Severe Major Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, January 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/articles/whats-life-like-with-severe-major-depression