If You Can’t Escape Depression, You Can Try Making Do

Inability to Escape Depression

It’s hard to escape depression when it dominates your mind. The illness has many faces, but its most visible one is your own. You see it everywhere because you can’t stop thinking about what’s wrong with you.

The illness is filtering out everything that would disturb your isolation – like brighter feelings, hope, the reaching out of a loved one, self-confidence, the energy to connect with people. It keeps your mind roiling with your flops, dumb mistakes, broken relationships, and acid self-contempt.

When you’re well, you can lose yourself in the daily flow of living, but when you’re depressed you never lose yourself.

Depression’s Vivid Memories

Depression is supposed to interfere with your concentration and memory, but I think those symptoms apply mostly to external things, like trying to get your work done or listening to a friend.

When it comes to your internal world of depression, you’re all attention. Your memory for miseries is sharp. Every detail of recent and past experience is as vivid as if it were occurring at this moment.

You’re living in the flow of experience all right, but it’s a catalog of past sins and catastrophes. They’re alive in your sizzling gut, and it doesn’t matter that they’re all in the past and beyond your ability to change.

The intensity of the experience keeps them close. You’re busy with shame all the time. Escaping yourself seems impossible. You could probably swim the Atlantic with all the displaced energy that wears you down, body and soul.

Neural Maps of Depression

Daniel Siegel has a great way of putting this in Mindsight. He visualizes the neuroscience of awareness in terms of maps.

When visual cues are picked up by our senses, they travel across neural circuits that activate areas of the brain that put them together in pictures we can identify, patterns of sounds that take on meaning, smells, tastes and touches that trigger memories. But the brain doesn’t stop with individual perceptions. Continuing neural firing takes them to other areas of the brain where they’re put together in more complicated wholes. We see a child whom we recognize, understand relationships with people, respond to what we take in from them.

These are the maps that guide us through each moment of living.

When you’re depressed, all you have in mind is your me-map. It stands out in bold relief and full color. But you have minimal awareness of your connections with others. The you-map and the we-map are barely visible. You’re not making real contact with anyone else.

The We-Map

Having a we-map requires that many levels of perception in your brain are working well together. You’re sensitive to the sound of your partner’s voice, the tiny changes of expression in the eyes, the gestures of hands or posture, the tones of meaning in spoken words.

There’s a constant interchange of these signals between the two of you, and you’re responding to each other in many ways. The constant back-and-forth flow between two people creates a shared understanding.

The connection deepens and the sense of togetherness, of a “we” emerges. That map of connection, the we-map, generated by thousands of coordinated neural responses and interpretations of mindful feeling – all that is lost during deep depression. The signals can’t get through.

You can’t shift your awareness and brain functions to focus outside yourself.

When I’m depressed, life outside my mind and feelings seems to be happening on the other side of a soundproof glass wall. I watch it dumbly, detached, without feeling. All the while I’m obsessing about everything that’s burning in my mind.

If I react at all to the life around me, it’s only to feel yet more guilt or self-contempt for not being able to participate, to be a real-live human being.

Where You Are, Where You Want to Be

So what can you do to get your life back, to get out of that self-prison? Much of the advice on how to get better falls flat.

Get out there and do things. Action is the antidote to depression. It’s the only thing that breaks down the paralysis of isolation and loss of will. Lose yourself in a higher purpose, find your calling that will give meaning to your life and build hope in the future.

In other words, do all those things you can’t possibly do when you’re severely depressed. Despite the considerable insight and wisdom behind much of this advice, the recommended programs often boil down to a set of directives that sound like platitudes.

The best things they do are help you recognize where you are, to see the full scope of your illness, and then to define where you want to be, all the elements of recovery and a fulfilling life.

Learning to Cope

Getting your life back isn’t so much a matter of ending depression altogether – though that blessed event can happen. For most people, it’s a problem of adapting to the reality of the illness.

I don’t want to suggest that you shouldn’t try to recover, but if you wait for total healing your life could collapse in the meantime. To begin with, you need to find ways to get through each day despite the illness.

When I’ve been depressed, getting through the day has been the biggest challenge I could handle. I usually started out with a belief that things would likely not go so well during the day ahead. After all, today was going to be a follow-up to yesterday, and that couldn’t have been much worse. So I convinced myself that I would have similar troubles this time around.

I tend to stay in this circuit of frustration as long as a serious episode lasts. My only hope is that I’ll finally heal and be done with the problem. Until then, I limp along.

I see the possibilities as all or nothing. Either I’ll continue in the misery of isolation and failure, or I’ll come out of depression completely healed. It’s harder to imagine that I’ll have to handle the day as well as I can while still preoccupied with depression.

That’s not my ultimate goal. Full recovery is what I want so that I can get my life back. But daily coping with its modest victories is the only place to begin.

For the time being I can’t escape self-confinement in depression, but I can try to make do for now, even if I have to fake it.

There are a lot of skills to learn about making do, and I’ll be going into them in the next few posts in this series.

How do you manage to get through a day when you’re depressed and can’t stop thinking about yourself?

Image by Vincepal at Flickr

46 Responses to “If You Can’t Escape Depression, You Can Try Making Do”

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  1. nancys says:

    I am in the grip of depression. It has been with my for all my adult life, over 20 yrs, but it has gotten worse in my 30s, and at this stage I do feel like I have lost hope and am just getting through. I am on my own therefore if I am to keep ‘living’, I have to go out to work. It is dark and cold where I am at this time of year, and I would like to stay under the bed covers and not face the world. But every day I don’t face the work, and am tormented by my neighbours, is another day I have wasted, so work kind of saves me. I do feel like I am going through the motions, and I don’t want to do that for the next 20 yrs, but for now it’s all I can do.

  2. The Strongest Nobody says:

    Sitting here at work in my own shame, guilt, shame cycle…barely able to lift my arms to type, much less concentrate on the tasks I should be completing. So I did a search for “I can barely do anything” and this post was the top hit. It’s a little step to hear someone else’s words echo my own feelings so well. My poor family can’t understand this, and I’ve had some pretty bad scares with depression in the past, and I don’t want to drag them into this again. Therapy is out of reach, and there’s no one I can talk to without them putting me on a suicide watch and handling my every word with kid gloves, which just makes me feel even more selfish, ashamed, and guilty, and thus the cycle continues. So I’m pretty much on my own with all my swirling self hate, going through the day with a plastic smile and a professional quietness that most mistake for efficiency. Someone asks “Are you ok?” and the person in my mind screams, “NO NO NO I AM SO VERY FAR FROM OK!!!! PLEASE LISTEN TO ME AND HELP ME!” But the grown-up wife and mother says “I’m fine, thank you. Just a little tired,” and walks on down the hall trying to hold my tears until I get around the corner.
    So thank you for at least helping me know on this day that I am not the only one.

    • Sharon says:

      You are not alone at all. I too feel exactly the same as you. I daren’t tell anyone the truth because I don’t want them to think me weak. I don’t want out of this world, I just want some relief from the torment that is depression. I feel like I need a break from life to a place where I will be cared for and be given time to heal.

      • Annie says:

        I have used the exact same words so many times: “I need a break from life.”
        My depression is an abyss. No end at all, total darkness, and immense pressure.
        It’s so hard to pretend everyday that I’m ok. If this is the rest of my life, I’d rather meet my Maker now. I made the decision today to check myself in to a Psychiatric hospital.

  3. pluto says:

    inspiring. truly needed this…

  4. Lebohang says:

    Hey everybody! Well my story is as follows: I have lately had this amazing crush on my friend and told him but he rejected it. I know I must move on but I cant. I have become so anxious to fall inlove with a guy but I do not see where it goes. The problem is, my entire family, cousins and friends are so not bisexual friendly and if they find out that I might be back to my roots they will get disappointed. It comes to a point where I just want to go far away from all the people and just listen to myself. I really love my Family atlarge so I thnk I should stay hetero and comprimise my happiness!

  5. manpreet says:

    i work hard for my exams but i dont get results as i expected .please tell me what to do .i always get less marks .

  6. Nadir says:

    Hello everyone!

    Just now i couldn’t sleep and like always was going through this trance of me in my past being self critical telling myself why this why that and then i was like “well may b i deserve this” …and then suddenly i got up, which is unusual, saying to myself ,enough, and started looking up to find a solution to this problem.

    Finally came across this website. The moment i read the article i realized that this is me and the following comments all of them really deep and depressing just like a typical depressed individual. And then it came to me (like an eureka moment) that what depression is really and how to actually control it and overcome it.

    Honestly speaking, before reading these symptoms and comments i never knew that its depression that is keeping me awake at nights and dreaming during days making me under achieve at almost everything good in life.

    If i can have the attention of anyone who is reading this please pay attention to this because if this made sense to you now it can most certainly change things for good.

    Okay, here it goes:

    Depression is an emotional state which we create ourselves! we talk to ourselves;

    Our inner-mind or the inner person or the subconscious what ever you may call it, will talk to us in a way that is like someone condoling a great misfortune or something. It will slowly and gradually hypnotize us over time into believing that we are incapable, worthless , losers in extreme cases and similar demoralizing things that will effect us and eventually in the long run we are completely brainwashed by ourselves into believing all this and in some cases some people are so affected by this that they decide to sadly end their lives.

    Okay i am assuming this theory is making sense to all of yous. So, whats the point right ….
    the point is that it takes a lot of effort, seriously a lot of effort. Years of self talking and inducing this emotional state and then living in the memories of the horrible past it does take a lot of effort and the result is perfect without realizing we are depressed and thanks to ourselves.

    Okay here comes the solution; keeping all this in your mind now start talking to yourself of the exact opposite things that are all great and fun and full of life all the things you want to achieve, excite yourselves make the effort this time for the better not for the worse do this for as long as you have to. Make your inner mind listen, tell yourself that you are powerful and your heart beats, things are still there is your life left unexplored no matter what age you are in. If you believe in God then that’s also good gather your power from your faith make it stronger all the negative talking that you’ve been doing took a lot of effort accumulate all the anger inside you and fight it with positive talk back .

    This will stop your from more damage by halting the poisoning and then with regular positive conversations to yourself will start to reverse the venom. Depression is killing yourself with a slow poison. So start as soon as you can and get motivated. I am not a scholar or a preacher just a regular person who is going through the same thing, i didnt write what i go through or what mistakes i regret or how bad i want things to change because all of us already know that. Dont we!

    I wish for everyone to get free from this prison of invisible chains and walls and torture, bless you all. Love life its priceless use it very wisely because its yours and only one!

    I hope I was of help to at least someone of you, if i have offended anyone believe me it wasn’t my intention and i deeply apologize for it.

    Thank you for reading and i am open to any feedback.Cheers!

    • jaron says:

      Thank you so much for this! I totally agree. I was in much the same scenario when i came to this site too. I’m so glad to see it is very possible to overcome depression. It sometime seems, at least to me, that rather than finding a way to heal, these site can often become a place for us to kind of ‘share’ our misery. I’m in no way saying that finding someone to trust and confide in is bad. As a matter of fact, it is so important to share our experiences, our struggles with people. I just love that you took it a step farther, and shared how we can overcome, or at least begin to overcome it.
      It may seem crazy that to win the battle, you’ve got to do the hardest thing you could possibly do, but with the hardest work comes the biggest reward! You can feel better about yourself. It is possible to live life again. you are worth it. And if you try now and fall back into old mindsets and habits, don’t give up! It’s not over. You’ve tried once, you can try again. As long as you put forth some effort, you are succeeding. And let your faith fuel you.
      Thank you again so very much, and good bless:)

    • Tub3 says:

      Intellectually… I get it.

      But emotionally it breaks my heart.

      ”I wish for everyone to get free from this prison of invisible chains and walls and torture, bless you all. Love life its priceless use it very wisely because its yours and only one! ”

      May I second that emotion…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM

    • aarzoo says:

      thanx nadir…i found ur message here to be really helpful

  7. Emma says:

    I am really struck by listening to all of your pain and it helps me to have some empathy for my own. I feel so bad and wish I could really help others climb out of their hell even though I can’t climb out of my own. My heart is really with you. I feel you!
    I am not “clinically”depressed but have been a tortured soul my whole life. I have fought my entire adult life to climb out of this abyss that seems to grow deeper as time goes on. I am now 54 and my life has been not just a living hell every day, but has been wasted. Have not been able so far to utilize my potential, talents, gifts, etc. Have never found a career, a decade’s long nemesis. I have seen 160 therapists, read over 50 books dealing with this subject, I have gone in hospitals, have had suicidal ideations many times, which is always sitting on a shelf over there. Although I do much contemplating about it, since the age of 16, I recently realized I don’t have the constitution for it. I am gripping on to life and trying to rescue myself too tightly to give up. I don’t have enough of a Self to do it. Perhaps suffering and inner torture is a long time friend that I can’t abandon. Get busy dying or get busy living but it seems the depressed have to slowly boil alive in between the two. And, for me it feels like I got locked in a vault from when I was very young. I see how wonderful life is and can be, but I can’t access it. Yes, deep down I believe I have the key to get out but I can’t find it. I have attended courses and classes and workshops, climbed mountains, rock climbed, a solo in the desert, walked on hot coals, tried 15 different therapeutic modalities, 12 step meetings and countless and endless attempts at trying to climb to freedom and find my authentic real self, which I know is still there. Have explored the Spiritual side of things as much as I am able . When I was formally introduced to New Age philosophy and Spirituality 30 years ago, I instinctively and intuitively had to put it on a shelf. For me, I knew or felt, that I had to find myself through the traditional means of psychotherapy -feeling my feelings and working through them in order to be free of their claim they had over me. It took 38 years to discover I have a Massive Inner Critic, Core Identity Issues, Shame, Self hate, Trauma, Severe Abandonment issues, A complex Defense system bigger than a Roman army, Fractured Ego Structure, Internalized Rage, Hyper Sensitive to Stimulation & Arousal, Little ability to sustain and Self nurture, Emotional Safety Deprivation, Frustration Intolerance (that clearly excludes a life time of depression though), Self Alienation, Engulfed and Overwhelmed, Severe issues with Trust of Self and Others. Guess after that I don’t need “clinical” depression too! Bibliotherapy helped me as much as gaining an intellectual understanding of myself and therefore why my life isn’t working, so that was a huge help, it ended the Why which was huge. Although I would only recommend like 3 or 4, because they can’t cure and fix you and can become an obsession. My mind is my addiction. Never got into sex, drugs or any other vices. I have OCD thoughts 24/7 but that is also due to deepened self isolation. I am also aware of our parallel worlds to this mortal one that our physical bodies inhabit, so for all I know there may be other factors to seriously consider. Although Spirituality resonates with me at a heart level, I am still very much attached, to this mortal world which prevents me from delving deeper into other possibilities. Curses, arch angels, astrological dis-alignments, the paranormal, supernatural, occult, mystical, and so on. Even with all my issues stated above it just seems to feel like one particular powerful other entity may be at play here. Or it could just be the massive sum and weight of countless dynamics manifesting themselves, and so it feels like it’s singular thing. One lock. Just don’t know. I am Agnostic and a Pantheist of sorts. I realized I can’t believe in God because I am holding on too tightly to Let Go and have faith in something so emorphic. I also don’t believe that believing in a God is a substitute for the inner work one needs to do. There are no short cuts. I wish and hope us all well. Be intuitive as you can be about the “help” you receive into your life. Listen to your body and inner soul and voice, as hard as that may be when seeking assistance. Thank you for being here. Sorry for my rambling.

    • Steph says:

      Wow, everything you have mentioned resonates with me. You weren’t rambling, you have much insight. Thankyou so much for taking the time to post your comment, i know the effort it would’ve taken. Your empathy and compassion for others struggling in the same way is a wonderful by product of this insidious illness. We are filled with so much concern and care and hope of recovery for others as we know how painful it is to live with this. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I wish for you healing and continued resilience until then as I do for myself and everyone else suffering. Much love to you :)

      • anna says:

        Thank you Steph for your heartfelt post. I sometimes forget how many of us are struggling with this illness. I wish we could form one big support group, just to be there for each other when we need that. I think of my depression as an addiction, state you never recover from, you are always fighting with that could potentially kill you. I hate it and today has been a particularly tough day. The part I hate the most about it is the fact that I am aware that it’s ruining my life, that I’m slowly fading away and there is nothing I can do about it. I’m 30 now,and I think I’ve reached a point where I need to accept that it is not going away, despite meds, therapy, different therapists.It’s just not working out. I’m still trying to figure out a way to live despite depression.

        • Tim says:

          I feel your pain. I have struggled with this illness my entire life. I see how it effects everyone that cares about me and it only hurts more. I wonder what it feels like to be happy and healthy. I know life isn”t fair but to compound that with mental illness only makes it worse.
          Mental illness is a revolving door that I can’t seem to get out of. I have had glimpses of happiness only to be returned to its prison. It has stripped me of friendship, relationships, career goals, and any interest in life. I can’t live in the now when the negative past and the negative thouhts consume me. It is either that or I stare aimlessly at nothing. When you feel like this all the time there is no hope for a better future. I’ ve tried all methods of therapy and this fucking disease always seems to prevail. I know I am a good person I just wish I was a healthy one. It makes me sad to see my siblings and friends live happy productive lives knowing my illness has kept me from joining them. I was dealt a shitty hand at the game of life and it is getting harder and harder to play as the years go by.

    • ego says:

      … I’ve had depression since I was in elementary school. Abusive life from others, and pure circumstances yet I know I’m the only one who is responsible for it and my “now.” I’m too tired to get up after the real or perceived knock downs. My memory wont release me. Especially since I keep failing at everything I try, no matter how positive I (sometimes) force myself to be. Motivation completely evaporates then I find a new goal in life. Then get ridiculed by inescapable (because I still care for them) family. Love is all I wanted, and paranoia, self hate, lack of any esteem and too vivid of an imagination keeps taking that away, I keep pushing life away, even friends. Im too observational and ask too many questions and too open and its not appreciated and ive changed so many times I come back to the old cycles that I know what to expect from. I don’t want the rest of my life to be this wasted; so many many opportunities fear shut doors upon, and most of all I’m tired of ruining the lives of those I love and am in love with, whether I trust them or not. I know that it is what I say and how I act that drives people away. Then I avoid everyone (and i dont try to talk about it anymore because either no one cares, or they have so much pain already i’d be making it worse, or complaining becomes an addiction in itself, or i’m yelled at and told its my ungrateful self that makes it all up.) I don’t bother anyone anymore. No one likes a complainer. Internet is different. Im hiding behind an invisible wall this way. I can say what I feel without inhibition, like the trolls of youtube teach us. (Haha?) Why do people look at suicide like it’s so wrong? If you’re already dead inside, no matter how stupid or shallow it sounds… What about child rapists and people with so much guilt and shame that cant be medicated or therepied away? Isnt it a service to let them finish hurting themselves and others for the last time? I know I take so much away from others, from living quarters to energy and creating worry. I know why it’s illegal, because many times it’s only a temporary disturbance, and impulsive peoples lives are at stake, thats why you cant just get euthanized. But im not impulsive, and a whole entire life of pain in one person spread to others.. what solutions are really available? I only get worse as time goes on too. Id rather people remember who I was when I was at my best times. Then forgive me for finding my escape. Selfish is a dualistic word for both sides.. the one who is being selfish, and the one who is claiming the other person as such. Im sorry, I know you’re all trying not to die and find hope.. but im tired. I dont want a single thing anymore, no desire for career, family, competition, beauty, no sexual desire, no more friend desire either. All I want is the nothing. Im just here because I was searching how to escape a depressed life in a ridiculous attempt at searching roundabout forms of painless suicide, since when its asked the same answers come up. The last time I was in a hospital for accidental deep laceration I convinced them to let me go because it was thanksgiving and I didn’t want my sort of inlaw to have a ruined day. If I stayed, what: more meds? Roulette is what meds are. A vacation paid by taxpayers? I wish I was a an old time japanese farmer with a communal purpose. But im just another complaining person, I know.

  8. Joe says:

    I grab my guitar and sing whatever I’m thinking and feeling out loud. I find this to be good therapy. A preacher of the gospel I love named Perry Stone says to just visualize yourself communing with God- its not a rote routine or speech but the depths of your being desiring to embrace God- I’ve had some beautiful moments doing this. I do feel your pain just know God is bigger than your problems and I love you. Ill pray for you right now- blessings in Christ. I hope we can all connect through prayer. Find a good Bible believing Church and fellowship with God there as well. Be blessed.

  9. Gopal says:

    Hi John,
    What an accurate and wonderful description in your posts. Your words echo my own experience and can tell you that there is a solace in that. Just to know that there is someone else who goes through the same experience that you are going through is healing. So, what do I do when I feel depressed?
    There are some anchors I find to be immensely useful for me:
    (a)Therapist – A good therapist is worth her/his weight in gold. No cliche’ here. I have come to realize that even though I possess an extremely sharp mind (graduated from a top school and now work as a researcher), it can work against me when I try to intellectualize my depression and build reasons for why it exists. A therapist is more experienced and knows more than you do and she can help. Let her. If there is a particularly bad day, I try and put what I feel is the core issues bothering me in a mental container and lock it for the time being. Then I open the box during the session and we go through the contents.
    (b) Psychiatrist – Same goes for a psychiatrist. Someone who is willing to listen to you and diagnose you is important. For me, it took a year to build that trust. My “intellectual” mind and fear of any medication made me suffer severely during my depression. I was trying to minimize reporting the severity of my symptoms and that backfired because the dosage was too low. Being honest with you psychiatrist is as good as finding one who will give you medication only if he/she feels you need it.
    (c) Having good friends with whom I can be completely honest. These are people who have “earned” my trust and I can simply cry on their shoulders when I have a bad day. Just telling them about what I feel can get some of the pain out of my system. Sometimes, they will “get” you and sometimes they wont understand – so I have to exercise my judgement. But continuously reminding myself that I live in their hearts and that they are there for me is solace.
    (d) Work – This is as important as any. Having meaningful work is core to me. I got into depression because I was spending my time at home and not doing work. I work in education and I have noticed that if I dont get something authentic to work towards, I am slowly edging towards feeling low. Mind you, it is not an addiction – I dont work weekends but getting out there and going to work is critical.
    (e) Play- Having a hobby. I have a motorbike. I have a dslr camera. Great tools that have given meaning and literally build new neurons. And any act of focused creation works.Writing, photography, drawing, –anything which leads to something creative.
    Having talked of these anchors, let me share that during a rough day – it will take effort to try these anchors too. Not easy at all. Wont feel right at all. And that is all right! I deserve happiness. And sometimes i have to make a massive effort just to live through the tough times. I keep reminding myself, that with time, such times will slowly become lesser and lesser sharp and more and more bearable. I am in a good space and I am surrounded by a universe who will take care of me. The faith keeps me going somehow. Will be happy to share more if you want to email me. Just hang in there…

    • Rod says:

      Fantastic advice. I have been battling depression/anxiety off and on my entire life and recently have hit rock bottom. Thank you so much!

  10. Catherine Boyle says:

    Hello.
    A lot of people don’t realise that depression can be the symptom of an underactive thyroid. Sadly the Drs go by the THS test and not symptoms and so treat people for their symptoms rather than the cause. So many people are palmed off with antidepressants and told their blood tests are “normal” and their problems are nothing to do with their thyroid. I was told this myself and went to see a private specialist who was brilliant I now feel great. I saw a wonderful website called http://www.stopthethyroidmadnesss. Please check it out. Sadly we are brought up to believe our Drs know best. Believe me they don’t.

  11. Nibor says:

    Hi guys.
    Check out on YouTube with search terms “Depression” and “Anthony Robbins”. He cures depression in public within seconds. Believe me, it works. However, you have to follow up with strictly disciplined thought control and repeated targeted change of mood by imagination. But the more you practice, the more and faster it helps.

    Just do not any more allow yourself to fall into the trap of promoting noise in your head and refrain from over-analyzing and thinking negative. For example, make yourself a mantra, like “I am getting more and more happy and confident every day” and repeat it each time, the noise or negative thoughts come, such that it overrules the negative thoughts. I may not appear easy from the onset, but if you have strict self discipline, it cures you within days or weeks.

    The only thing you have to realize is whether the depression is giving you a connection to yourself that you are reluctant to give up (think about this one !), because you may have to find a substitution that gives you the same connection (Listen carefully to Robbins on this subject). For example, if you are depressed because of being alone, the depressive thoughts may be around a loving wife and family; and you may be reluctant to give up this wishful thinking, which is the core of the the depression. In this case, you have to find a substitution in order to give up the wish and the related depression. For example, you may connect more to your mother, brother, or likewise. Or you are in a family and are depressed because of lack of freedom, in which case you have to exchange the depression by creating an activity that gives you the feeling of freedom sometimes, for example going sailing or running in the open field.

    You will realize that there is no real clinical depression that needs medication. It may sound arrogant, but so it is.

    You may also promote curing by drinking energy drinks, conatinig Taurin, guarana and vitamin B. They do not help all equally, so try a selection and see what works for you.

    Good luck and do try this alternative approach, which will make the pharma industry angry.
    Nibor

  12. Tracy says:

    I’m new at this and I’m not good at computers. I have been suffering I guess with depression It has affected my health and vision. I can’t eat and when I do I don’t feel relief. I’m having trouble smelling anything perfumes, soap deodorants, air freshners etc, I’ve lost my will, beliefs, faith. I’ve tried to take advice to get out of this but nothing works. I have a counselor and she said without believing that she or no one can help. I work n force myself to breath. Music, tv, bathes, getting a pay check and taking care of accomplishment haven’t helped. I can’t seem to relax no matter what I do . I sometimes just want to give up. I can’t breath or escape it. I tried to visit friends, sex, food and work and it’s just not working help

    • Danielle says:

      How are you now Tracy?

    • Steph says:

      When I’m going through an episode I can barely see anything. My writing becomes jumbled as does my comprehension of the written word the same as a dyslexic. It’s amazing the various ways it affects you as a person. It truly robs you of your simple functions. At least you know as we all do here, we are not alone in this struggle.

  13. swamiji says:

    i never came across this depression in my life but when i completed 60 on 15.11.2013 it started i became sick seriously and stop doing any physical work, even mental work and to day i have become a wreck physically and mentally sick i can not broom, mop, cook, wash can not afford servant maid since i am in a big city, i am alone and the city traffic snarl is sickening so many factors have made me sick loneliness, oldage, sickness, but somehow get relief when i listen to devotional songs in my laptop i used to sing loud but now i can not god only should help i have tremendous faith in god right from childhood, i am good at so many things but unable to do anything i dont when things will improve i am getting calls to come and work but due to so many factors i am unable to take up just two months back when i got an offer to teach 4000 kilometers i jumped and took the offer but after going there i could not bear the 2.5 degree temperature cold and came back home, i hop god will be kind in a month or two he will show mercy so that i can go and teach children 36 kilometers away from my home
    god bless you
    swamiji
    monk and social worker
    india

  14. Anonymous gal says:

    Great site.

  15. Anonymous gal says:

    Stumbled across this site looking for support to try and sustain a good relationship with a man who has recently, finally admitted to me that he suffers from depression. He also said that talking about it and focusing on it make it worse, but I have questions and want to open an honest dialogue so we can achieve individual and couple health. He says everytime he has talked to a partner it has been relationship ending. Yikes. Not sure if it is because others were not able to cope with the work involved, or if there are some deep dark scary secrets. I am trying to tread lightly and respect boundaries, but I am walking blind. How best to broach? I feel a need to understand what he/we are dealing with, if not all at once. That seems fair, yes?

  16. Belle says:

    Dear John,

    I just wanted to give a heartfelt thanks for this site and all you do to help others get free from depression. I cried really hard today after finding and reading this… I could have written this myself. I am 28, a divorced mother and have been depressed all my life. I knew it at 14, and was sure of it at 16 after a failed suicide attempt ( which I decided was something I could never try again because I don’t want to hurt my loved ones, or go out as a ‘selfish coward’).
    My depression (as well as side-effects from Zoloft) ruined my marriage and now the guilt I have over not being a full-time mother and breaking up our family is too much to handle most days. I only went on the medication hoping it would make me a better mom and wife in the first place. My depression only snowballed, causing me to lose a job I held for years, lose my marriage, my family , myself.
    I’m currently unemployed and have not had much motivation to find a new job despite being divorced, having a child who depends on me, being penniless, and living back home with my parents who have been a great support through this ‘fog’, I call it.
    Many times I’ve been able to relate to other depressed people online who have been brave enough to share their stories… but not in any way that gave me hope… because they were all people who had given up like me and chose to accept a life in the dark while occasionally commiserating online, believing it is their only option. But -my finding this post and this blog today renewed my long- dead hope that I, too, can recover someday through persistence, slow progress (progress nonetheless), winning over my relapses one at a time, and a lot of experience.

    Thanks so much- I am forever grateful!

  17. Steven says:

    I am 42, and have been struggling with depression since age of 21. I have gone through great seasons of joy as a result of finding help for my hurting heart. I have experienced a lot of pain in my past. As a child, I didn’t know how to deal with the pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonement. One of the most helpful experiences has been for me to feel my feelings. I started doing this with a counselor and then joined ACA( adult children of alcoholics, 12 step program) It is for people whose parents were addicts, and people who’ve had disfunctional families. I also participated in some role play therapy. I reenacted my abandonement issues and re processed them as an adult. I experienced a lot of forgiveness for people who had hurt or abandoned me and continue to pray for them to be blessed when they come into my mind today, which breaks the power of resentment. I have grieved in these groups my losses. I believe that God has a redemptive plan for my life. To use the brokenness and transform it for good. I find that sharing my story helps me greatly.
    I chose to medicate my depression with porn prior to finding 12 steps. Talking about my secrets, my addiction, my feelings, confessing sin with others struggling like me has been life changing. The 12 step program is about a spiritual awakening. My heart was awakened to the fact that I couldn’t manage my life, God can, When I turned the will and care of my life over to Him, he walked me through steps of healing and recovery.
    I see recovery as recovering myself. I had literally supressed myself as a person. I had learned to be a zero. I didn’t give myself permission to express myself. Now I have a voice that I know matters and can make a difference in others lives. I am loveable, cared for, and valuable.
    It helps me when I share this with others. I still have bad days where I am depressed. But I call mentors, friends to talk through it. I also take a newer antidepressant called Lamictol. Which has very little side affects. Processing my life with others verses isolating is very helpful. I ask to be prayed for, I ask to be reminded of who I am. I keep confessing my sin to others and to God.
    I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe that he is my portion. I don’t have to feed upon resentments and the idolatry of porn. I must consume him by hearing his word, and reading it. He is life to me. I believe that He is a gracious God who forgives me when I fall. His dying on the cross for me paid the penalty of my sins. I am now His child and His Holy Spirit dwells in me. Understanding His grace has helped me immensely.
    So, I have found many joyful experiences through my search for peace. Joy that surpasses understanding at times. The four bacic feelings are gladness, anger, fear, and sadness. Shame is what binds us and keeps us from feeling. Begin to find help processing these feelings with people you can trust and feel safe with. Find people to pray for you and who have and do struggle like you. Find a counselor to talk to. Get prayed for. Also, I would suggest nurturing your grief when you can. Give the sadness in you a voice. It is healing to cry. Take it one day at a time, cause it is a long process. You are loved, I promise…..

  18. SRK says:

    All the symptoms mentioned in this post are true for me currently. I am from India and have been in depression for the past one year. And each day is a battle. I work for a famous consulting firm and my job requires me to be extrovert and outgoing. I remember being so when I started on the job after completing Masters from a premier Institution. That was 3 years back. But since the past one year, I have become a recluse. I hate talking to people and have withdrawn into a shell.
    So much so that, for the past 8 months I have started working majorly from home and even avoid going to office. I simply hate sitting with people and what normal folks would call, having a good time. It becomes so bad sometimes that I go for days without a shower or a shave. I have simply lost all motivation to live and thrive. My parents keep attributing this to my laziness. They simply don’t understand. Dad says that “It is you who have put yourself in this mess and only you can rescue yourself. You should wake up on time, eat properly, socialize and change yourself.” The problem is that getting out of bed itself is one of the biggest victories of the day, leave alone socializing :-(
    I have lost interest in everything that I loved to do before. I used to work out regularly and took pride in my eight pack abs. The depression has cost me my abs along with 5 kg muscle body weight. Taking cue from the exercise method to suppress depression, numerous times I have tried to resume workouts. But every time something bogs me down. I have no motivation, zest or spark left to do it. It is a very painful feeling seeing my most prized possession, health, wither away like this.
    I do not see any meaning in life. No reason in anything. Its like there is no purpose to anything I do. I have no desire to continue living and I am only alive because committing suicide would be an insane thought (& painful, nonetheless, if I survive somehow & the tribulations that follow).
    I simply don’t know when or how this feeling will go and just don’t know what to do. I don’t expect an answer from you, but still, thanks for hearing me out !!!!
    Best Wishes from India.
    SRK.

    • Brett says:

      Can’t offer any help except that I feel the same way about life and have before too. It passed and came back, now it’s lasted longer than the good times and I have trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I have quit almost all commitments in my life and have horrible physical and mental health, after being an athlete my whole life. I just tell people I’m still standing when they ask how I am. That’s all I got at this point

    • Gopal says:

      Hi SRK
      Hang in there. Have faith. You deserve happiness. I wrote a reply separately on this website (jan 24) of things which have helped me. For the time being, just focus on getting out of the house. I totally hear you when you say that you hate it. It might even be very anxiety provoking for you and you might feel that no one even understands what you feel. Yes, in india, depression is put under the carpet as if all one has to do, is become tougher and do things. So, please dont listen to even your close ones because they simply dont understand you.
      You sound like a sharp and intelligent person. Unfortunately, your intelligence works better at work than at figuring out what you feel. For the time being, get back into whatever gives you peace and happiness. If it is volunteering for an NGO, so be it. But get out of the house. Your sharp mind, a gift, needs to express itself creatively. That locked up energy is no good inside. Let it out.
      Try yoga. If you are in Mumbai, try the yoga institute in santacruz. They also have their talks on chirbit and their approach to dealing with depression is sensible.
      Finally, get a therapist. A good one. You will know after you meet him/her. So, meet a few and see what works for you. But do it for yourself. It is EXTREMELY BRAVE to ask for help. Therapy is not for the weak who continue to run away from their legitimate suffering.
      take care

    • john says:

      Hi SRK.
      All I know is I have had a great life until 7 years ago when I got depressed!! you struck a nerve with me about the fitness etc, and my kids are all into the gym etc. I can put my problems down to rejection , and failure type stuff, but am wondering why you were so healthy , and into fitness , and all of a sudden it crashed ? there must be a reason? you had a good job , etc. think back and try to find the reason when it went pear shaped? was it a relationship thing? I am still depressed , although seem to maintain a normal ( to them ) life, and hope you sort it out. cheers. jwm

  19. Nicola says:

    Hi all. I have suffered from depression since I left school. I was always a perfectionist and had to achieve the highest marks and the hottest boys. I had three episodes which were all solved with pills. Now I am suffering from depression due to a drug induced manic state. I am divorced and have A gorgeous 3 year old child. But I feel dead every day, numb, and in the vicious cycle of depression. No pills have helped me this time. I don’t do anything, just lie around my flat in isolation waiting for a day I will just snap out of it and my anxiety has killed my body. But I just know that day won’t come cos I’ve gotten so used to feeling depressed that I know it’s a habit. The psychiatrist tells me it’s not a habit but I just know it is. Boredom put me in and now I’m stuck cos I’m bored but I can’t do anything. Does anyone know that feeling? I’m lucky I got money from my divorce settlement so it’s not urgent to work but I know if I stay in my flat it’s also not helpful. Anyone stuck in that rut?

  20. Gabor says:

    Dear John!

    I found your blog and I am interested to know about depression as lot as possible. I tried to understand depression deeply and I have to say that my view over this thing quite different than yours and others who posted on your blog. My experience is not as old as yours and therefore I dont think it is an only valid one, but I want to highlight a few things and I really want to know your overall opinnion about the following.

    In my opinion depression is a result. Although many times we feel there is no trigger at all, but it is a result. We feel how we think. And vice versa we think how we feel – but this is not a good chice (I will try to highlight is later). Thoughts are always comes first and the feeligns just follows thoughts. It is true for me too, even many times we just not conscious about what we think really. Our emotions many times seems just popping up without any reason or cause. What we do with our emotions? I concentrate now the sad emotions. We feel them, and we think we cannot hide. We cannot hide from depression, it is follows us everywhere. We brings with us the problem. What is the problem with that? We dont want to feel this way. We dont want to be sad. We want to understand why we are sad and we want to solve our emotional state. We dont want to feel anxious. We spend enormous energy to solve our emotional state. We want to be happy. We think that if we dont have any big problems we have to be happy – like others. We see others much more happy than ourselves. But what is happening when we fail during this solving period? We lost. We feel that we lost the control over our emotional state, we cannot do anythink to feel better. We are anxious about that. We are brooding over that. Endless brooding. We cant think, eat, sleep, having sex, we are not interested anymore in anything what we have enjoyed once. We feel physical pain, emotional pain, emptyness, numbness, we feel ourselves like a robot, like a dead man. Hopeless, helpless, trapped, tyred, anxious, irritable, brooding over endlessly how we feel! The complete wreck and fail.

    Okay, this is depression isnt it?

    Lets see the professionals description: (I will mark the symptoms list with different marks, later yo will see why.)

    DSM IV

    Major Depressive Episode

    A. Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

    Note: Do note include symptoms that are clearly due to a general medical condition, or mood-incongruent delusions or hallucinations.

    (1) depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood. +

    (2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others) +

    (3) significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gains. +

    (4) insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day +

    (5) psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down) +

    (6) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day +

    (7) feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick) +

    (8) diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others) +

    (9) recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide +

    B. The symptoms do not meet criteria for a Mixed Episode.

    C. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

    D. The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., hypothyroidism).

    E. The symptoms are not better accounted for by Bereavement, i.e., after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than 2 months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation.

    I have marked + the symptoms listed here because they are all anxiety related.

    1. Hopeless, helpless, trapped. „No way to get out from this hole. I am totally sick and this feeling never ends. I dont know what to do. Maybe I have to use the medications for the rest of my life. I cannot understand why I feel this way. Not a well worth thing to live anymore in this way….” Brooding over how we feel. But wait a minute! What if I do not brood anymore. I allow myself to feel this way without judge it, I dont be upset if I feel empty. Hey really! Everybody have to be happy everytime? Is it a realistic goal?
    2. This one is happens because of the 1. point. We lost the most important ability for us. Being in peace with us. No matter how interested we were in something. There is no more interest because the most precios thing – although we did not recognised it before – the feeling of peace – we lost. There is no need further explanation this feeling is the result of the 1. and the result of the tired mind because of anxiety.
    3. Why worth to eat anymore. Explanation is the same as point 2.
    4. Result of high anxiety. Brooding over why we feel this way, or brooding over what fails we have done or what we will do in the future. Brooding over what will be the result of this journey. Death? Mental institute, ECT, antidepressants for the rest of our life? Neverending anxiety.
    5. Hurry up due to anxiety, because how we feel or what we think about how we feel and what can be the result of how we feel.
    6. The torture consumpting a lot of energy. Emotionally and physically we feel completely exhausted by time. The battle costs a lot. We dont have any energy for doing simple things. Even thinking, concentrating. Doing some cretive thing? What is that? A joke? This is a result of anxiety and brooding over how we feel and why do not feel good as others seems.
    7. We do not understand why we feel this way and therefore we try to find some very clear causes. We did something or we born with some huge fail or sin which is unsolvable and the world is will be a much more better place without us. We magnify our weaknesses for finding the clear cause. We focus ont hat. This is the result of the „there is must some answer for our feeling” habit.
    8. Same as point 6.
    9. Hopeless, helpless, trapped and overly anxious. There is no other way to get out from this hole just to dye. No further explanation is needed. This is the end result of ultra high anxiety.

    All of them serving the way going to be depressed and anxious – a well known vicious cycle. As we lost our energy, our self esteem, we see our future as bad as possible. We use the medication we focus on how we feel, we test scan and monitor all of our body and soul. We focus in instead of out.

    I think that all of the above is anxiety related. Prolonged fight or flight response occurred in this state. Adrenalin, cortisol and related stress hormones are filled u pour body. Our nervous system is on the highest alert and we cannot calm anymore or sooth ourselves. Emotional containment are seems impossible. Many recent studies showed the unclear link between stress and depression. I know, you stated somwhere, the picture is not enough clear, but I started the view of the experinece of depression from the „psychiatric” or „biological” side which is not precise and not answere the real questions in my opinnion. They stated, that the listed symptoms are derepssion related but the do not answere to the very easy question: What is the cause of the listed symptoms!? The cause is anxiety and stress. Anxiety from inside, anxiety from outside, which cause stress on our emotional state and on our body. The stress has clear effects of the body and after enough time: SYMPTOMS. The listed symptoms are symptoms of stress. The result is depression, but I think, depression itself is a symptom of stress. The DSM IV and the psychiatric field simply mix them and dont answer to what is what. There is a saying: the first thing what is needed for the depressed person is not happyness, but calmness. And yes, calmness is our source of happyness through the self control which feeded by calmness.

    In my opinnion, the most harmful thing around depression and related things (which is not an illness in anyway – no matter the results which caused by the depression) is the fabricated and mystical fog around it.

    The psychiatrist said: „ I am affraid if you disontinue this medication, you will setback and you have another episode…., and therefore it would the best – regarding the future – if you will remain on the medication for more time.” Allright, how more?

    What if I do not fear of any more „episode” (the word itself: episode cause little nausea in me  – this is the part of the mystical and created root of „depressive illness”. What if I can get free of that because I accept ALL my emotions without judgement? What if I do not brood anymore over how I feel? I guess, I do not be depressed really anymore.

    The psychiatry is in big trouble, the SSRI myths are collapse lately or will collapse in time. The promises of psychiatry are not fullfilled. I dont think that there are only ways getting rid of depression, but I think, that if we fear from derpession, we brood over how we feel, we WILL depressed in time. Self fulfilling prophecies. Because brooding is thinking, and these thoughts cause stress. Stress cause symptoms and we brood more because of how we feel. Vicious cycle, not more. This is why I think, all the listed symptoms are stress-anxiety related. What cause anxiety? It depends on us to find the answer, but anxiety can come many places from inside to outside, but the very fact is, stress and anxiety cause symptoms after anough time. These symptoms not just physical, but emotional including: depression, fearfull thinking, catastrophic thinking, negative, repetitive, crazy, racing thoughts, see our future in black way and so on. But these also the results of prolonged stress.

    I was able to get rid of depression and axiety, panic attacks by myself, without medication with this view. I dont fear depression anymore. I do not need to really fear too much anything anymore. Fear for what? Death? Going crazy? Lost something or somebody? No way. I dont say, that I am completely feel good, no, but 95 % recovered, and I can contain my fears, I can sleep, eat, work, having fun and so on. I hate the fabricated myth around depression and anxiety and I think many people „just” fear and they cannot get rid of that because they „just” dont understand realy what is going on.

    Best wishes for everybody!

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Thank you, Gabor – for explaining your experience with depression in such great detail. I can’t do justice to everything you’ve written, but I like the basic concept of accepting the feelings of anxiety and depression without judgment. That wasn’t the path I followed to recovery – at least consciously – but I think acceptance is a good description of the way I handle any remaining depressive symptoms these days.

      I agree that the medication approach has limitations that should make it less widespread than it is – but both physicians and people like simple and fast remedies. I believe they’ve put far too much faith in antidepressants.

      On the other hand, I have to respect the experience of anyone who has been able to recover from depression by whatever method they have found effective. There isn’t much evidence to resolve the question of what causes depression, and the meds and therapies seem best at dealing with selected symptoms but not all the changes that depression can bring about. It’s usually up to us who live with the problem to put together the combination of treatments and changes in thinking that help us the most.

      Thanks again for giving us so much to think about. I need to think more about many of your ideas.

      John

      • Gabor says:

        Dear John!

        Thank you for your answer. I can go back far in my life to my early childhood deeply remembering the details of my life:

        ” I could feel any kind of emotions, just like sadness with the childish awareness of the feeling. A bad mark in the school, disappointed friendship with somebody, argument with a parent or even a little broken self esteem becuse of some misunderstanding with a young girl or a bullying classmate. All of my friends have had these soo normal feelings and experineces like me. One or two days or even minutes, the feeling flight away. The time pass. No scars, no emptiness, no concentration on the feeling and no questions like: Why I feel this way? Just feel the life how it is going on and feel the vibrance which is sometimes unconfortable or even painfull.”

        What is the difference between this and defined depression? Brooding over how we FEEL. Brooding cause stress and it’s symptoms. I mean helpless, hopless and trapped BECAUSE the lost of self control, the lost of controlling the feelings. Test, scan, monitor over and over again. Tired mind, poor sleep, concentration problems are the result of emotion driven life experience. Of course, emotions are important. On the other hand, we must believe in them without any question?

        I never had derpession or anxiety before my first panic attack. It was little more than one and half year ago. I have spent nearly half year going into the tunnel with the typical experience of extreme anxiety and resulting depression, BECAUSE I did not realised what is going on. After I have found a really good online site which described the hole thing deeply and offered online support. I have learned a lot about this and finally, nearly completely recovered. I think, the body do its work well and when we feel the symptoms listed above in my first post, we just dont understand what is going on. Slowly I realised, that the symptoms are connected my mind through my bodies language. These are just symptoms of stress and before I did not realised that I symply felt hopeless and more likely dead than alive. Emotional storm all day with overlapping panic attacks. I was dizzy, felt fainting, numbness, jitterness, muscle twitched, trembling, shaking, my heart was like a race, and felt I will going to be mad at time with all day depersonalisation. As I have recognised slowly my ability of making choices of REACTING the emotional and physical symptoms, they are started to alleviate slowly, very slowly with setbacks. They come and go. Every single setback give me opportunity to practice the reaction of the event. Slowly I can feel vibrance, warm light on my face and my childish awareness of the flowing life.
        The end of the story is just the start.

        If you ask me I have used medications or not, i say I have used approx 4 months long a year ago. It was xanax and cipralex. I stopped using them because the limited effects of them. Xanax worked well – I felt like a robot. :-) Withdrawal was quite hard because my body and mind was in high alert so the typical withdrawal symptoms hitted me, but I did not gave up the “fight”. I have learned, learned, learned and more learned about the condition.

        I feel good. Sometimes little anxiety waves or symptoms coming up – mostly related to stresssfull events in job, but I am okay, I know now what is it – of course not in the byologic or neuroscience way, but the way of acceptance. It will pass away. Neuroplasticity is on our side.

        Best wishes,

        Gabor

        • John Folk-Williams says:

          Hi, Gabor –

          I’m glad to hear that you’ve come through this so well. I agree that the key thing is to be able to catch the symptom and block the usual reaction of giving into it. It took me a long time to learn that skill. Viktor Frankl calls it the moment of freedom that helps us find meaning in our lives. If we recognize that moment and can free ourselves from the reflex-like response, we see that we have the ability to make a choice. That’s been so empowering for me. Thanks for your many insights.

          John

  21. Angie Mustard says:

    This post touched a chord with me. It almost made me cry. I have been struggling with depression since childhood, with various treatments, counselling, anti-depressants and the works. Not once, EVER, has someone ever said, “you know what? Its okay to wake up tomorrow and not be completely fixed”. Its always been about seeing how fast you could throw the bandaid on it and pretend it was all better, trying to have more good days than bad. No one ever told me it was ok to just muddle through, and just be satisfied with making it from one end of the day to the other. Reading through the above post, and coming to the realization that sometimes, just making it through the day IS a small victory, absolutely floored me.
    My biggest mistake always seems to be pretending I’m more OK than I am. I am a wife and a mother and I have a full time career, and these demands on my time and conciousness seem overwhelming a lot of the time. For my family’s sake I try to put on that happy face and try not to let it show, but all the small frustrations build up until I erupt. Then its a fireworks show followed by a relapse into that deep dark pit of self-loathing. How can I do this to my children? They don’t deserve to see me like this. What about my husband? How much longer is he going to be willing to put up with me? (For the record, my husband is incredibly supportive of me in my illness, which in turn is a source of guilt that he needs to be).
    So its nice to know that “making do” is ok, and in a misery-loves-company sort of way I guess its nice to know that other people out there are stuck “making do” as well. Its ok to be no better today than I was yesterday. Knowing that, in itself, is a big victory for me.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Angie –

      I’m glad the post offered a little help. I can sympathize with your worries, even guilt about how your depression affects the family. Especially with kids, though, I’ve always found that it’s better not to hide what you’re feeling. For one, you can’t fool kids about your emotional availability. It might work for you as it has for me to be up front with everyone, as in, I’m having a really bad, no good, rotten, miserable day, and I’m sorry I can’t be there for you as much as I’d like. But I want you to know that I love you, and I’m working on getting better… That sort of thing is probably better than keeping it in, exploding and then feeling even worse. I’m always amazed that my kids (now three grown men) weren’t more deeply affected by my depression – but part of the illness is exaggerating how bad an influence you are on everyone in your life. We have a loving relationship all round. It’s easy to forget that the core bond in a family is pretty tough.

      All my best to you —

      John

  22. Judy says:

    “Making do” seems to be about where I am at lately and I’ve just recently become aware of what an effort every day seems to be. And, of course, there’s that, “Oh, no – not THIS again!” feeling, feeling like I’ve once again failed to beat it. The hoping that nobody notices and pretending that nothing is “off.” And the guilt for being dishonest about it, the shame of not talking about it even though I said I would and wishing to God that something else would distract me from it. Oh, things do for short spells but then it’s back to the muck. I can barely summon up the energy to use some techniques I’ve learned because right now, I find it hard to believe they’ll work. Yes, I’m sure I’ll get over this eventually but it has me questioning now my idea of trying to get off the antidepressant I’ve been on for a gazillion years – yet, is this not proof that it’s not working, anyway? So, for now, it’s putting one foot in front of the other to get dressed, get my chores done and pretend to feel like anything matters. I know, somewhere, that it does.

    • Hi, Judy –

      I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this again.The cognitive techniques sometimes work when I’m in that state, but I think it’s uphill with those. They’re too rational, and the intensity of emotionally charged depressive thinking can usually make short work of them. Deep breathing, sunlight and outdoor work help in little but important ways. I hope you can tell yourself that you haven’t failed and that you will try whatever has worked for you before. Thinking you’ve failed and that all the tricks won’t work anyway is, as you so well know, symptomatic and not remotely close to true. About the antidepressant, I have to say I’m pretty disillusioned at this point. How could it be working if depression comes back? I used to stay with antidepressants because I figured the repeat episodes would be even worse without the medication. But they were as bad as any I’d had before. Obviously, you have to be careful about getting off a drug you’ve been taking for many years, but I’m at that point of getting off and staying off, instead of moving on to the next New Thing.

      I hope you feel better soon,

      John

  23. Donna-1 says:

    You said we could probably swim the Atlantic with all the energy displaced by depression. I think I could walk over the Atlantic on all the freely-given “hey, cheer up!” advice that has been dumped around me. You know, when I gave my “depression testimony” at your site, I was guilty of doing this. I intimated that exercise, nutrition, volunteer work, and positive thinking drove me out of depression into some semblance of recovery. But I was really just talking off the top of my head, not thinking deeply about what it was really like to try to recover. I did use any means necessary…but only when I could lift my hand from the plate and my head from the pillow. Only when I could make sense of an unbalanced checkbook register and fill out a job application. And so much of the time, I wasn’t capable of doing any of this. I was not even capable of brushing my teeth or caring what day of the week it was. Because it simply didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Except for that me-world you were discussing. Yes, my cognitive abilities were barely above zero, except when it came to writing in my morbid journal for hours every day. I could make sense for hours and never get tired of doing it. I delved into my relationship with my therapist, with my parents, with my siblings, with my psychiatrist, with friends I hadn’t even seen in years! Everything was grist for that slow-turning mill. But in that other-world that actually involved communicating with people, I could barely mumble a sentence that made any sense. I have the impression now that I was actually nurturing the depression by ruminating on it day after day. But what could I have done differently? In another way, now that I look back, it makes sense that I had to “get it all out.” Even just to a word processor. I stumbled onto many insights about myself and life that I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise. I learned to express what I was feeling, and defined some of the edges and excesses of my world, even if it was for my eyes only.

    So what can you do? All you can do is all you can do. If you can get out and walk, then good for you. If you can’t do that then, well, you can’t. If you can cook a healthy meal and eat it, by all means do. If you can’t, well, you can’t. What you are able to do (what I am able to do) changes by the week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Sometimes a lot, sometimes very little. Sometimes brushing my teeth is grounds for redemption. If not, maybe I can do it tomorrow or the next day. I tend to be hard on myself and ashamed of myself if it seems I am not doing enough, or doing what I should or ought to do. But I have to be content with what I can do.

    • Hi, Donna –

      I love the way you put things: all you can do is all you can do. That about sums it up. It’s amazing how whole chunks of reality disappear in the midst of all this in the sense that they don’t matter, don’t fire anything in the brain. When they come back, you have to learn how to walk with them all over again. And whatever steps you can take on a given day are what you have to be content with. At some point, though – big hopefully here – you want to get farther along. I’ve finally managed to do that, but it’s probably due to all the painfully slow practice of relearning that went on forever. Don’t really know.

      John

    • Gopal says:

      Hi Donna,
      So well said. The amount of advice given, rather showered, on cheering up is often enough to push one into a shame that one is not perhaps doing enough. As if depression is some weakness which can be always overcome with sheer willpower. A lot of harm has come from such “well-meaning” individuals.

      Depression has embarked me on a journey to know so much about myself that just reflection would not have brought to the surface. Yes, a day of dullness and anxiety is difficult but it teaches something. Sometime the meaning of it becomes clearer much later and I noticed how I am responsible for some of my own suffering. And that is powerful!

      I am almost at the end of my therapy and journey with depression and I understand that there is no one way which works for everyone. So trying whatever gives you a nudge ahead is your vitamin.

      “Do all you can, with all you have, in the space where you are, in the time you have” said Nkosi Johnson – a young boy who lived with AIDS. And if all you can do is get out of the house – then so be it.
      cheers to the brave souls who engage with depression!

      • Donna-1 says:

        “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

        ― John Wesley

        This, of course, applies not only to “all the people you can” out there in the undefined masses. It applies foremost to the person who is considering doing the good. I would paraphrase it this way: “Do to yourself all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. In all the relationships you can. As long as ever you can.”

        Too often, I hope that doing good to others will become goodness to myself. I feed them, I visit them, I meet their needs, I worry about their worries, and so forth. And in doing so, it is so easy to deplete all my stores of goodness. I have none left for myself. Doing good to others helps, yes. But it doesn’t make an adequate substitute for doing good to yourself. Goodness does not come out of emptiness.

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