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Woman looking sadI’ve been wanting to start writing on this topic for a while, but a bit scared to.  I think this is because of an awareness that I need to be careful to make it clear that I’m not any kind of expert and have no medical qualifications, and that anyone reading about depression might be depressed themselves. 
 
So, my intention is not to be giving any kind of advice here, other than to seek professional help if you need it.
 
Also, I’m not in a position to answer emails about anyone’s personal situation – I’m busy enough trying to keep a handle on my own stuff.
 
That said, here goes.

It seems these days that every second person you meet is suffering depression or has experienced bouts of it at some stage.  So what is it? 

Without looking up definitions and researching it, my personal experience of it is as follows:

Depression is a feeling that lasts a long time, so it’s not the same as feeling temporarily sad when you have a to-be-expected and natural reaction of sadness to some event in your life.  It can be triggered off by grief, but it’s an experience of being stuck there in negative emotions, not knowing how to get out of it or if you ever will.  It’s paralyzing.  It’s a feeling of hopelessness, apathy, sadness, disappointment, negative feelings about myself and my value as a person, general distrust of mankind, verging on tears a lot of the time, but often unable to let them flow.  

Inexplicably, I also frequently find myself thinking I am just fine, going about my day as normal, then suddenly and unexpectedly overcome by sadness, which may last a short time or a long time, depending on how well I am able to handle it and guide myself onwards.  I often feel frustrated that the slightest little thing, or often seemingly nothing at all, can throw me off course and incapacitate me.  At other times I amaze myself that I am able to keep going and survive though things that would seem like genuine reasons to lose it.  Maybe it's a delayed reaction thing.
 
I experience anxiety along with the depression usually, or all on it's own, which may be a large part of the paralyzing nature of it.  There is general fear, a feeling of dread.  There is fear associated with taking actions which logical thinking tells me will be constructive, and there is also fear associated with my awareness that the longer I put off taking these actions, the worse my situation is. 
 
Intellectual awareness of what is rational, what is right and what makes sense can be present whilst I’m depressed.  I feel frustrated that I still feel stuck and unable to move when I know taking positive action is the best thing for me to do. 
 
I have had times when this intellectual awareness was not present, and have spoken to many people who have been in a bad place themselves, who did not appear to have this awareness.  Personally I think if there is no insight into what is going on in your situation, that’s the first thing that needs to happen to give you a chance to come out of it. 
 
I believe a lack of insight and understanding into what is happening is associated with not taking any responsibility.  If you can’t feel responsible for your own life, you can’t feel you have any power over it.  Blaming external things for how you feel takes away your sense of control over yourself.  It may spare you the pain of accepting responsibility, but it leaves you powerless.
 
My main survival technique for times of depression is to avoid making important decisions or changes.  I aim to keep things going along as normally as possible, and make things as easy for myself as possible.  I try to keep up with basic and essential things, but let the stuff that doesn’t matter too much slide.  I look for ways to comfort myself which will do no harm.
 
Each day I assess what I have done, and look for any small achievements, whether it was jotting down some ideas, a load of washing, cooking a meal, some time spent with the kids, paying a bill, or painting my toenails.  I try to recognize and face up to things that day which I could have done better, but going easy on myself with it.  It’s like treating myself as a patient, being my own nurse, being my own guide.  Sure, a bit like the blind leading the naked when I’m feeling rotten, but at this stage in my life I’m much better at spotting my own negativity, so I know when to listen to myself and when to tell myself to shut up and bugger off.

 

Comments   

#5 Lynn 2010-12-10 14:34
This is the first time that I have ever checked out any blog, i m glad I did. Reading even just one comment that describes my own feelings, makes me feel a little more human, a little less helpless, a little more hopeful and a little less alone even if for just a moment in time, thank you.
#4 michelle 2010-10-26 10:42
so glad to hear that i am not the only one,that i am not losing my mind,i have however completely lost control over my life, i seem to spend endless hours writing lists and making plans only to never complete them or more often just rewriting a list because i am not happy with it.very occasionally i am completely "with it" and can achieve great steps forward but these times are few and far between,i feel that i am wasting my life away but just cannot seem to get to grips with even the basics:cry:
#3 Tiffany Stanworth 2010-04-28 00:41
I just want to say how brave you are for even talking about it. I have been depressed for three years now and daily walk around my house looking at everything I have not done and all I feel is I am letting my kids down and not teaching them how to live or how to just buck up and keep going. I have five kids and always try to make sure the kids have clean clothes and dinner and I clean their rooms, but I can't face my own room. I will not give up on myself.
#2 Jocelyne 2009-01-11 02:48
Dear Yvette,
Suffering from depression myself, I understand exactly how you feel. I am ok at the moment and hope you will soon be much better too.
Good luck and happy 2009.
#1 Diana Mack 2009-01-11 02:42
Yvette: I want you to know that I have struggled with clinical depression for most of my life. I am going through a down time as well, this is a bad time for many people. Lucky for me, I found a great psychiatrist many years ago and the combination of medication and psychotherapy (2 years) had completely changed my life for the better. I really understand how you feel and I am maybe a little obsessive about getting everything done. It is part of my problem.
But I am getting better at taking time to relax and actually let some things go. When I am down, I sometimes just do what absolutely has to be done, although sometimes I have to really PUSH myself to do that! Good luck and it is good to see your newsletter back on my email!
Diana

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