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.