Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Depression - in it for life?

Over the last couple of days I've been overthinking (surprise surprise) about my depression. One of the main questions that arises from this overthinking is whether I can ever really truly recover from depression, or whether the illness is, in whatever form, something that will always stay with me.

I find it really hard to imagine a life without my illness. Of course, I've had prolonged periods of happiness from time to time and at most times manage to live a relatively normal life, whatever 'normal' is. However, it's been a long time since I've felt that the depression has disappeared completely, that I would refer to myself as recovered.

Let me provide you with a little back story. I would argue that I've always, as a child and during early teens, had a case of mild depression. Naturally depressed, is how I would describe it. Reasons behind my depression are for the most part unknown. You can blame a variety of things. I don't live with my biological father and never have, but what I do know is that he had a history of depression and self-injury. I was bullied throughout my schooling life. I was always, even looking back upon school reports as early as nursery, was the quiet, insecure perfectionist who never felt good enough. Whether the causes of my depression were biological or due to past experience, it's a huge part of my life which seems to determine so much.

A lot of people know this story but when I turned 18 was the pivotal moment when I actually recognised my depression as something to take notice of. It had progressed into something a lot more severe, resulting in more frequented self-injury, not attending Sixth Form or work, and the worst being an accident and emergency hospital stay after an overdose. I find it impossible to describe what that area of my life was like. It felt like an internal hell. Looking back, I remember not really feeling anything, when I did attend school and felt able I'd end up crying and breaking down, skipping more lessons. I didn't really care about my A-levels, my boyfriend, my family, and all of the things that mattered. I pushed everyone away. I wanted to die, really and truly.

Now, close to three years on, I've entered what you could refer to as 'recovery' and I guess I've learnt some things about myself and my illness. And although my depression is no-where near as severe as it was when I was 18, it is still there. I can feel it. Right now, I'm at a stage in my life where I feel nothing but worthlessness. Not enough worthlessness to induce self-harming or dangerous behaviours, but complete worthlessness and despair and disappointment at myself. Days where I can't bear to leave the house or leave my bed or face the world. And I've thrown away so many opportunities because of it, leading to that worthlessness to reappear once more, that never ending cycle.

I'm not saying this to attempt to be pessimistic, even though I naturally am. I would consider myself someone  who during her attempted recovery has tried and fought so hard to be positive and to do things to help herself. But I can't help but think am I in this for the long run? Will I ever be truly recovered, or is this illness something that I will always live with and determine my life? Do I need to spend the rest of my life just learning to manage my illness instead of living a life of recovery? Is recovery ever truly possible?

I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on this. If you live with a mental illness, do you believe in true recovery? Or do you think it's something that can only be managed over time? Why/why not?

I'm not writing this blog post in an attempt to drag you all down, at all, but I've been thinking about this a lot recently and thought it would be an interesting topic to bring up.

13 comments:

  1. It's certainly one of the things that have been on my mind lately. Yes, it could true that we (as in depression sufferers) may have to work that extra bit harder than those who do not have depression to get through life positively. I'm not sure I have an answer, or a way to make it any easier. Not at the moment. I just want to say I recognise the dialogue in this blog is similar to what has been in my mind, especially in the last week or so.

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    1. Hi Alice,

      Thank you for empathising - hopefully one day we can find the answers, or something close to one. Depression leaves us with so much confusion, and that's one of the hardest parts. Thank you for commenting!

      x

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  2. Hi,

    So much of what you've written resonates me with, 18 was a horrible time for me, no one called it depression yet I had been feeling that way for a long time. I took an overdose an 14 and 18 and for years after, it was up and down, I'd have good months and months where I couldn't face anything. Though I gave up on m A levels, I had a dread of letting people down so I kept going to Uni (until the last semester) and work. When I look back everything is engulfed in this black cloud.

    Through 3 years of therapy I was able to recover from the eating disorder and self harm and I am happy, I can sometimes feel myself going back to the depressing feelings and it scares me. I think because of that fear and healthy ways to cope I do believe in true recovery. Today I don't feel on top of the world, like I did yesterday but that's OK, I will listen to why I feel sad and try to do something to change it.

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    1. Hey Vicky!

      You're a truly inspiring lady for battling your ED and self-harm, such incredible feats which you should be proud of. And your last sentence struck with me, thank you - it is difficult to listen to ourselves once in a while, the fact you are listening to that inner voice and are trying to combat against it is fantastic! Go you!

      x

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  3. Lord, I identify with this an awful lot!

    I too suffer from depression and I often wonder if I'll ever feel truly happy again, then I wonder if I'd even recognise happiness if it did happen now it has been so long.

    I have always been 'too serious' in my opinion, too much of a worrier and too mature for my age. I hate it but it's not likely to change.

    I often think about depression and have heard the idea batted about a lot that people can 'get into the habit' of being depressed. This interests me, I can fully go along with it. Just as one gets used to being 'the anorexic'. Anorexia for me was the reason for everything that was wrong in my life- a quick answer to why everything was shit. Perhaps being depressed is similar.

    Do you ever feel like this- you have a bad turn, either wake up grumpy or it just happens in the day and your immediate thought is 'oh god the depression is coming back!'? Most people without a history of depression would either not even register the emotion or if they did they'd just think 'oh im in a shitty mood' or 'this is a bad day'. They don't think it is the beginning of a massive black hole.

    I think when you have experienced depression and has a period of 'coming out' of that fog you realise how god damn awful it was and that makes you absolutely terrified of it's return. Sometimes this fear becomes a self fulfilling prophesy.

    Very interesting post though, thank you xxxxxxxxx

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    1. Hi Katie!

      I'm exactly the same. I've always acted WAY too mature for my age, sometimes I just wonder whether I'm just taking life too seriously and need to sit and lay back a bit! But when you're used to this way of living it's so hard to get out of.

      I just feel like no matter what I do, the depression is always there. I've always been one to hide my illness by a smile, but it's like I can always feel it lurking around inside of me. And sometimes it chooses to show itself in its worst forms. Regardless of happy times, I know it's still there. And I then live on edge, terrified of it's proper return as you say. It just makes me wonder if true recovery is ever possible.

      Thank you for commenting!

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  4. I've often debated this, it's a really hard question and there are no clear answers. I had too much to say though, so I did a blog post instead! You ask some really important questions xx
    http://talkingisthefirststep.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/a-lifelong-illness.html

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    1. Thank you! I'll definitely give this a read and promote on my Twitter.

      X

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  5. Thank you for being so open and honest. I have a similar story it seems but it is strange to resonate with someone - it can be so utterly isolating. I first saw a councellor when I was 10 for "being unhappy" - it's horrible knowing everything is deeply wrong and at the same time not knowing what that 'everything' is. My dad has had problems with depression too, it's difficult to determine whether it's biological or the mindset you're brought up to have.
    I also saw your previous post about the new adventure to uni. I actually began uni last September too and made it to November before it became too much. I was eating very little and exercising for stupid lengths of times. This behaviour had started the previous year and was gradually eating away at my body. I have a serious (and very visible) physical disability and now I have to feel the impact of the muscle I lost through exercise everyday because my body can't rebuild it. If that's not a reminder to be positive about eating healthily and living a healthy lifestyle I don't think I will ever recover. It's been a hard 'gap year', an endless cycle of relapse followed by recovery from depression and an ED, yet I know I'm slowly get there... and uni awaits again in September! I am very hopeful for us both and wish you much health and happiness - what more does a girl need :-) love from (another) Amy xxx

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    1. Hi, fellow Amy!

      My story is so similar to yours in so many ways, I begun University and left in October, for similar reasons (plus being in a long term relationship meant it was hard). I was already a year behind because of my illness so this time is the last time I have to make things right, in my eyes. I wish you all the happiness and success in the world, you're a fighter, you can do it!
      If you ever need to talk about things, just let me know!

      XX

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    2. That's so sweet, thank you :-) I think if we both just keep trying to do what we simply would like to do in an illness-free world we'll get there in the end. I'm such a perfectionist and it can sometimes mean a whole day/month/year etc. is ruled out as a stain that will haunt me forevermore but I'm learning that it's ok for things to go wrong (sort of) and even if I can't ever see the past in a positive light I can now separate it from my future. Don't put too much pressure on yourself with the uni thing - if it's what you want then it's what you should get, no matter how many times it takes or what the head-fairies do to get in your way :-) xxxx

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  6. Hey, I also suffer with d3pression and find amys blog very inspiring yet ive never commented before, im my own oppion when living with depression in a way you have to treat it like a friend can go away and be really hood for a while then t4y your best to ride the emotion rolercoster with it with out letting it take over you. And rember bad days are bad days, tomorrow maybe a better day and on good days fill it with lots of laughs and love. Hope this makes sence to you all as I have a tendancy to talk utter rubbis. Wishing you all well. Leanne x

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  7. I have Bipolar Disorder and I used to wonder the same thing as you've described. Most of my life has been spent cycling from one mood to the other until my mania was long enough and disruptive enough to get me a diagnosis (I was 20 at that time). Depression and mania were what I had known my whole life, or at least, all the bits that I can remember. But then things changed for me and I've had much longer periods of being well, fewer manic episodes, less depression and less severe. So I believe that if we put in the effort to help ourselves as much as we can, then we can get better in time whatever it is that we're suffering from.

    You seem so determined. I hope that things improve for you like they have for me.

    Sara
    P.S I just discovered your blog and am loving it :)

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