Has Depression Become Part of Your Identity?

I can pinpoint a moment when I came to believe that depression was not just an illness that struck from time to time but part of my identity as a person. I was talking with a friend one day about how big a problem depression had become. He thought it must be brought on by feelings that life had no meaning. I told him it wasn’t like that at all. It wasn’t caused by anything but kept coming back on its own, for no apparent reason.

When I said those words, I suddenly realized that there was very little in my life that had not been influenced by depression. It was at the center of everything I thought about and tried to do.

I didn’t just get depressed. I was a depressed person.

It was David Karp’s Speaking of Sadness that summarized this realization as taking on an illness identity. I mentioned his ideas briefly here a few years ago and more extensively in this recent post at Health Central. Based on interviews with 50 people living with depression, he found a pattern of four broad stages that each person went through in dealing with the illness that led to this new identity.

* First comes a period of inchoate feelings when you notice a number of problems long before you have any idea about depression, or even the words to describe it.

* Next comes a recognition that these are serious problems. You start to think that “something must really be wrong with me.”

* Then a crisis happens. You’re in more pain and chaos than you’ve ever known. Things seem so out of control that you know you need some sort of help. That’s when you get into the world of mental health professionals and receive a diagnosis of a depressive disorder.

* The fourth stage is coming to grips with long-term depression. Something changes as you go through recurring episodes and perhaps find that treatment isn’t getting the job done. You start to think of depression as part of who you are. As Karp puts it, you develop a depression identity. Then you need to find a way of living with it indefinitely. Karp finds that people tend to go in one of two broad directions as they adapted to the chronic illness.

Some accepted depression as their dominant condition that was occasionally interrupted by periods of partial recovery. Others believed the opposite, that they were basically healthy but sometimes got depressed. They tended to recover completely after each episode and believed that the recovery periods could be extended into a permanent state.

However, these were not static beliefs. Each person went through critical times when new crises or information forced them to redefine themselves and also reinterpret their previous experience. These are a few of the typical identity problems they dealt with, as many of us do.

Diagnosis. Finding out that you have a diagnosable condition shared by millions is often an enormous relief. It enables you to make sense of confusing, frightening, even chaotic experience. Now you have a name for it that satisfies a basic need to see your life, past and present, as having some kind of meaning.

Recurrence. Understanding that you are now and perhaps have been depressed in the past is one thing. Looking ahead to a future of recurring depression is quite another. There’s often a lot of sensitivity about the words used to describe the condition since they now feel more like permanent labels. Many cannot accept the idea that they have a mental illness. Some feel better with “disorder” or settle on “condition” as a word carrying less stigma.

Others take comfort in the idea that they are sick with a disease caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It has to be managed with medication like any other chronic disease such as diabetes or lupus. Anyone can get a disease. That concept carries none of the stigma of being mentally ill.

Ineffective Treatment. When medication, therapy and other recommended treatments fail to end the illness, most go through another crisis of having to redefine their experience. I well remember the relief I felt when I learned that I was probably “treatment resistant.” Suddenly I had an explanation that kept me from giving up hope that ultimately the right treatment would come along. Life became a continuing experiment with new medications and reading up on the latest innovations, like deep brain surgery or transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Long-Term Coping. Eventually, you have to find a way you can live with to explain depression over the long-term. This explanation becomes the basis for understanding what your life is all about. David Karp found a great range of attitudes and meanings. In paraphrase, these are some of the typical beliefs people shared with him.

  1. Depression has a power over me that controls what I do. I can’t escape it and somehow have to adapt.
  2. I know this will be with me for the rest of my life and that I’ll be taking medication forever. But the treatment has helped me reach a balance. Most of the time I’m very functional, but I know sooner or later a really bad depression will knock me down again. I can live with that.
  3. It’s like there’s a happy me and a sad me that take turns in my life. I’ve gotten used to it.
  4. I really think I’m having a reaction to adverse events in my life and that counseling and medication will get me through this. Eventually I’ll find a way of feeling better that I can maintain.
  5. Depression has been an important part of my spiritual growth. I don’t follow any particular religion, but I have felt something like a spiritual conversion. I know it’s come out of the struggle with depression.
  6. I’ve learned to see pain not as bad or to be avoided but as part of life to be accepted. Buddhism has helped me see pain as caused by excessive attachment to things. Depression is a part of life to be explained like any other.
  7. Depression has no benefit. It’s nothing but pain that has crippled my life and caused terrible losses of all sorts.
  8. I think of depression now as the price paid for achieving special insights about life. These are insights that most people never achieve because they haven’t had to live with a chronic disease like depression.
  9. I’m pretty well recovered now. I think depression has made me a stronger person with skills and abilities I never would have developed without it.

Since I’ve lived for several decades with recurrent depression, I’ve gone through many of these explanations, and my expectations about the future have changed considerably. A few years ago, I thought all my hopes for recovery depended on new treatments that would work better than the current antidepressants. That was a desperate time when I felt I’d have to resign myself to a lifetime of depression – and that meant, among other things, losing my job.

In recent years, however, I’ve shifted completely and believe now that I’m no longer primarily a depressed person. Instead, I’ve gone in the other direction that Karp identified, feeling healthy and dealing only with residual symptoms that no longer add up to depression.

How have you thought about the impact of depression in your life over a long period of time? Do you feel it’s a part of your identity as a person, or more like a problem peripheral to the core concerns of your life? Have you been through shifts in your view of what depression means to you? How do you think about it now?

Image by abufaiqa at Flickr

99 Responses to “Has Depression Become Part of Your Identity?”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. jonathan says:

    Study the human needs by Maslow and Robbins. Study Robbins tape pack called personal power 2, it defines what makes us all tick, though it’s old… Spin it at least three times. It will redefine your self perspective. We all need certain things, things society and it’s jealous and selfish ways tends to keep away from us…. For simply too long! Also Beware of the cluster b people… The “walking brains” which want to deny our hearts… As modern science also does, in attempt to squeeze the last drops out of us, as we pile up all the gold for our leaders. …if our hearts are not allowed to be open, Because they will surely be stabbed and looted, then that right there is unsustainable , for ANY person. Jonathangino at gmail [dot] com . I be alone as hell. Worst family, most evil pos family, wishing for over ten years for a non backstabber friend or family member, as I Travel coast to coast many times, alone. Wishing and wishing and wishing and wishing and strive ng pushing and begging

  2. jeff says:

    Hello My Name is Jeffrey

    I have been suffering from depression all my life.
    Im an over achiever and perfectionist. My parents made me that way.
    As I was diagnosed with a learning disability when I was very young. In the same token I was identified as gifted. Strange I know.
    what was even harder was being told that my learning disability would lead me to having a rather difficult statistical life.

    My father was verbally abusive and mentally abusive.
    my brother also called me stupid and a dummy most of my life.

    Now at 31 one years old im the most successful ive ever been.
    I hate myself even more.
    because thats all people see is a man trying to prove he is not a failure.
    always saying yes to everyone. Even if it puts me in harms way i still will give my last.
    I am black and gay, and a former Jehovah witness.
    everything about my upbringing tells me im a sin
    and will surely die at Armageddon.
    I love and adore the things god hates.
    That makes me a vile disgusting abomination in gods eyes
    and the eyes of my family.

    My partner of ten years has walked out on me
    because of my depression
    cheated on me.
    sinking me further into my sadness.

    I dont even know why im writing this…
    every one has problems….
    there are people dying everyday……
    and just trying to make it from one day to the next.

    I want to die. I have for many years….
    i guess the reason i haven’t is because i feel like so many would say what took so long
    and i dont want to give anyone that satisfaction.

    • Tammy says:

      Jeff, how bad would it suck if you took your own life and then the next day something happened that would have helped to change your life for the good. What if a new depression medicine came out on Thursday that would have fixed you but you took your life on Tuesday? What if your soulmate, the person you were meant to be with started their new job on Monday, at the same place you work but you took your own like on Sunday? Life changes on a dime. You might feel better tomorrow, or in a week. It might even be in a month or three months. You have to find the right medication and support. Keep trying even though you don’t feel like it. Make yourself. One foot in front of the other. One word at a time, one minute at a time. Don’t die. Everything is figureoutable.

  3. Cory says:

    So sad… I too have been depressed, probably since I was 10. I am now 44. I have given up 99% of any hope of being and feeling like a normal person. Anxiety consumes me. I have a high IQ but cannot function socially at all. I barely graduated from college with an economics degree, which has pretty much done me no good. It is rare that I meet anyone that I can talk to. I have been so quiet and reserved my entire life that I have lost any creativity I ever had and I feel my brain is shutting down. Drinking doesn’t even numb my pain anylonger. The only thing that truly relaxes me is opiates. I used to do adrenaline sports like skiing and surfing to distract me, but my body is not what it used to be, so I feel like I’m losing one of the only outlets that ever made me feel good about myself. I’m thinking of trying Ketamine treatments.. at this point I’ll try just about anything. I did find out that I have severe sleep apnea recently and am working on getting that resolved. I have a little hope that getting this under control will help with my energy levels at least. I have been contemplating suicide lately, but not quite there. I have a real fear that suicide may be my fate eventually. I can’t stand the thought of any of my family or girlfriend finding me with my head blown apart. Like others here I feel like life has passed me by. I also married a woman I didn’t love and for unknown reasons I had 2 kids with her. We are now divorced and she and my kids live in a different state. This has really fucked me up the past 3 years. I have a great girlfriend now, but not sure why she wants to be with me. I am having a hard time dealing with her kids and I fear they will cause me to abandon this relationship. I wish all of you luck in your own fight. I am open to any ideas about treatment please… I have tried just about everything.

    • Judson says:

      You sound a lot like me..
      My life ..
      Forgive your past life.
      Forgive yourself.
      Do it with absolute honesty.
      Tell your too smart brain to think and believe in positive not negative thoughts..

  4. sher says:

    the only time I leave my bedroom is if I have an appointment or go to work, I don’t see the point and have no wish to do anything anymore Ive tried the exercise the meds etc nothing has worked and I read the replies to realise that there is no cure I am 51 now and am thinking of going to dr but don’t see the point I have no energy to do anything and have lost interest in everything Ive lived with this depression most of my life and as long as I remember I am sick of fighting to feel awake or be interested in something now I’m realising its a waste of time anyway

  5. Jaycob says:

    I am 19, and have felt depression for a long time I guess, but I really started calling it that in high school, or at least that’s when it began to come on much stronger. I did not ask for help or tell anyone really, I just knew I was very sad and unable to feel enjoyment in a lot of things. This was also brought on by my extreme feelings or loneliness that I have always had. I have never been very good in social situations, and also find myself with self esteem issues and thoughts that others find me worthless and unneeded or unwanted. I began to feel better throughout my senior year, but once I went to college I fell deeper into depression. I stayed in a dorm with a roommate that i did not know, and because of my social anxiety I never got to know him at all. I didn’t really know where he was from or what classes he was in or anything. I always stayed in my room and was afraid of others. I would not leave my room if I could hear people in the hallways, and was terrified of using the bathrooms because I did not want to run into anyone else. One day, after skipping my classes and going to a friend’s that was close to campus to be with other people, I came back to my dorm room to find that my roommate had moved out without telling me. After this, I let my room become very dirty and would never leave except about once a day for food (which was a chore to do anyways). I eventually had to explain to my mother that I needed to withdraw from the school because I had not been participating in classes. After moving all of my things out of my dorm, I went home and stayed at my mother’s, and harmed myself for the first time one morning in the bathroom. After this, I was taken to the psych ward, where I stayed for three days. They had me on medication, but I stopped taking it. I was feeling great after I stopped actually, and once I was back at my grandparents, but after so long, I have become extremely depressed again. My mother is the only person i feel comfortable trying to discuss these things with, but she hasn’t been helpful and is upset with me because of my problems with the medicine. I think I have more problems than just depression, and have asked my mother to take me to counseling since I was 15 or so. Now I am old enough to go on my own, but my extreme social anxiety keeps me from going.

  6. Cæsar says:

    I can’t believe I’m doing this.

    I am 34 years old and I just can’t remember when it started, but since I remember everything tends to be cycling through sadness and anger… I feel like a dangerous person, so I isolate myself not to harm others.

    Since last year I had a good moment. I work in an investigation lab, pharmacology. I studied to be a pharmacist but (can u imagine?) this illness always breaks my dreams, but knowledge stays. I can’t afford a psychological treatment, but after analyzing this with many contacts and acquaintances and summarizing knowledges we came to the conclusion that venlafaxin was the treatment I needed. Standard dose, I started and suddenly I was able to control my feelings, I became functional, I could keep people around me, I felt at least controlled. I even inscribed myself into classes so I could become a lab technician and have a title finally. I was feeling I was going somewhere.

    Today it happened. Yesterday I was late for work and under pressure to finish some cultures, so in the rush I forgot to take my medication. Was a long long day and I came exhausted to the room I rent so I just went straight to bed. After a night of nightmares with very obvious meanings I woke up at 16:00 (I usually take my medication at 8:00), I felt funny and kinda sad but, after just an hour, everything became hell. I had a collapse in my room, cry and anger and I was just unable to control it, I went to visit my mother and I just send her to hell, screaming and slamming doors. I walked all the way back to my room (it’s a 45 minutes ride in bus), crying, talking loudly to myself and just not giving a fuck about people around me. Suddenly a guy asks me for money in the streets and I spent all the remaining willpower in me just not to beat the hell out of him. I could have killed him.

    Now I’m in my room, just thinking that everything I am in the end was dictaminated by a molecule, that I am just a molecule in my brain telling me to be a little less batshit crazy. I am afraid, specially because I almost forgot what it feels to think about suicide several times a day. At least before I was so used to it I could control it, now… I don’t know anymore.

    I don’t know if I am afraid or if I don’t care anymore. Just 2 doses was enough for me to became the hellish monster I used to be all my life. And even now that I’m writing this words I don’t know why I am doing it, I am just following some urge I don’t understand completely. I feel like I’m nothing more that a maelstrom of sadness inside a body, I just don’t know who I am, I’ve never had the chance to know myself, to know who I really am. It always has been me through the veil of depression or medication, and I can’t talk to anybody because a) I’m afraid to hurt them and b) people like this is a problem and nobody wants to be around them. I feel alone, and the worst part is that I feel that it’s correct.

    I don’t know what to do, and doing nothing feels so damn fine. I can’t visualize a future, and the only things that stop me from ending this is fear to fail (I don’t mind to die, I’m afraid to survive) and that the few persons that have enjoyed my presence for a few moments would suffer. And I talk about 3 people.

    I understand why nobody stays around me, if I had the chance I wouldn’t.

    Sorry for the bad English. I’m from Chile.

    • Isaac says:

      Hello, Caesar.
      I’m 28 years old and I’ve struggled with a lot of the same things you have. Since as long as I can remember I’ve had intense feelings I can’t control, and I too isolated myself, thinking I was dangerous and strange.
      It sounds like you found a medication that worked, and for the first time in your life you were able to experience life without the depressive urges. When you missed your dosage, it was too difficult to cope with the return of those feelings.
      I noticed your post is almost a week old now. I only saw it today, but I hope you haven’t made any rash or suicidal decision. It can be difficult to look to the future when your mind is clouded with uncertainty. It really sounds like your medication was working very well to clear your head. Please try to resume taking it.
      You may need to keep taking the medicine for a long time. It can take years for a person to gain some measure of control over their depression and moods, and medicine can only help with that a little bit. You say that you don’t know who you are, that you’ve never had the chance to know yourself. If I could make a recommendation, it would be to resume your medication, and when you are feeling right again, take measures to connect with yourself. There are counselors and priests who can help you to discover who you are if it proves too difficult alone.
      Please don’t hurt yourself, Caesar. It sounds like you have the potential to be a very conscientious man. You say that you can’t talk to anybody because you’re afraid to hurt them and people think it’s problematic. If you need a person to talk to, I don’t mind at all, we can work something out.
      I hope you are well.

    • jonathan says:

      It’s the same for everyone. We need our human needs, at an acceptable amount… Most of us who have that horrible issues don’t get one or more of them, at all. Study the human needs as listed by Maslow and Robbins. I have nobody but my parents are the kind of people who do nothing but destroy you. I want to say they’re narcissists,but , lol everyone says that. Lol. I’ve been alone traveling coast to coast USA for over ten years alone. Girls look at me, and all the hagits cockblock me, like to me, just like mom and dad did yesterday. Iron out what human needs u need. It will be dead obvious. Jonathangino att gmail

  7. Bethany says:

    I genuinely thought I had over come it this time, but apparently not. Mind you I have had the feeling before of feeling free but like always it creeps back upon you. Now I am scared, fed up and just exhausted. My last
    Ajorepisodewas inmarch last year and lasted a good 2 months where I took an overdose, wouldn’t get out of bed, lost weight (which was great) but since then I have mastered the art of pulling the wool over every bodies eye, I’m funny, out going, popular, hold down jobs. But inside I’m dying. I take fluxotine usually, however stopped taking it a few weeks ago as I thought fuck me ive done it, I’ve finally over come this. New job, new lovely boyfriend. But no it’s back and has caught me completely off guard this time, no medication there to fall back on, just the shit! I need to start taking my tablets again. Is this just life now, it coming and going, and I call it ‘it’ because I don’t even have a word to even summarise the ballache that depression is. Do things get better? You don’t actually know that. I read alot about the universe and being positive, meaning the universe will give good things back to you. Does this work? I’ve had no luck yet. I haven’t had a specifically tragic life. Which almost makes me feel even more sorry for myself. Why am I feeling like this if that’s the case. I’m so disappointed. I want a therapist, I had one before. It I can’t afford it. But it was sooooo helpful. Don’t really know what to do. Not sure if I’m having a shit day or gunna have a couple of shit day, weeks, months. Who knows.

  8. Apple says:

    Ive been sad eversince i could remember. Ive been traumatized by my parent’s physical and emotional abuse. Physical abuses were consistent up until i was 20. While im still suffering from emotional abuse up until now(im 25). Ive been also bullied since elementary since i was so introverted and afraid, they saw me as weak person. When i got married, i had to give up my job and live with my in-laws. I love my husband and he’s a good man but sometimes i feel he’s coward on saving me from his relatives’ evil. Sad life.😭 God help me

    • deborah says:

      You’re too young to give up. Try to forgive and find some good thing in each day. Sorry this probably sounds like shit but I’ve been depressed for 45 years. Planning to die or disappear in the next 10 years but you’re too young. Try whatever presents itself, I mean if God speaks listen, if a life coach or shaman touches you don’t close your mind. God bless you apple

  9. Trevor says:

    Hi my name is Trevor and I’m 20 years old and I have been living with depression since I was 16 depression has took my will to want to live it has made everyday a complete struggle I wake up crying and I go to bed crying. My depression came from a terrible relationship that I am controlled and have no courage to fight back for myself I fell in love with a psychopath with terrible past my life is a constant roller coaster but I would say 70% of my day is controlled by depression I’ve tried many different medications I’ve tried drinking away my pain and I’ve also tried many drugs but I can not escape depression it has turned my life upside down and I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to deal with it

  10. Chris says:

    Hello,
    At the age of 56, I’ve lived with depression for 40 years. Following initial diagnosis, the years gave been spent undergoing various medications. None of which have ever worked, or if they did, the positive effect has gone after a time.

    My doctors over the years eventually came to the conclusion that I am resistant to treatment. I was advised that I will just have to live with it. On a day to day, year to year basis, it affects everything I do. I don’t know how I would be without living in this state.

    The state of a sense of detachment is now complete. My family tend to live in to their 90s, so I’ve got some time yet to live like this.

    Chris.

    • deborah says:

      Me, 55 depressed since 12, what are you going to do. I also have mother in her late 80’s not uncommon in my family. I have a 12 year old daughter, I know its not that good for kid to have mum who kill themselves but how long are you planning to put up with it.
      My bucket list is almost empty. I’m definitely staying around until my daughter is 20. How I’d love to have grandchildren…. see her married etc but what can you do…. wait until they legalise opiates? Pass the time in bliss

  11. jim says:

    I have lived with depression from the age of 5 and still am at 56 yrs old it is what I am. I was born to a girl thay was 13 in 1960 I was taken from her and adopted to a couple that didn’t love each other my adopted mother would whip me with a forsythia switch she would leave welts and in the summer mom and dad would work I had to leave the house when my mom went to work I was locked out until they came home my live has been bad luck back stabbers users I have never won anything never depression is me I settled for a wife that I don’t love really she holds me back she doesn’t want to work depression is me and always wwill be I guess I was born to live like thisi guess

    • Jack says:

      I’m old now and have several disabilities to die from. There is no one to care fore me when I get worse. I cared for my parents before they died, then I finished highschool. There a siblings that have assured their contempt for me, since I was born. Especially the eldest, what an evil biotch. She causes me grief to this day. Since I was born, she has done everything in her power to make sure my life is regretable. I was born late to my parents, she already had two kids when I came along. That’s why I was the only one left to care for my parents when they got ill and died. Noone else was at home. She even made sure they regretted their lives. Both of them died after being around her. Her evil contempt had been extended to the nephews a neices. Considering I was not raised around her, she commandeered to retelling them my life, her way. They don’t talk with me either. I had gone to visit them all at one time or another, or baby sat them. Now, they don’t know me. So, I can’t get to the point that I can’t work. I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, but don’t want to live in an apartment and want a dog around. They say it’s, living a lifestyle I’m accustomed. But it’s short, my life, and I don’t want to live another way. Like thousands of other old people, I don’t get enough to live on and work helps supplement. But I can’t keep doing it, physically and people are thieving cheats. Remember for every stir you hear of some workman swindling someone, there’s a few that jip a workman out of their wages. I have no future to look towards. Hell, if I wasn’t depressed my whole life and lived like that, surely I would’ve killed myself long before this. Suicide is highest amongst the old and imfirmed. It’s easier to, especially with the drugs they give us. It’s as simplease as taking two of the wrong meds. Even one can be from over the counter. If I didn’t have such self loathing and believe I should suffer, oh, I would check out. But there’s the dogs. One is old and getting close , the other, well, he’s just so devoted, but not desireable.I don’t want to condemn them to death cause they’re not adopt worthy

  12. AV says:

    Hi Charlotte,

    I feel like you in many ways. I live in the USA and I too suffer from depression and I am 24. I have never felt this way until this year (2016) where things have been getting worse for me. I feel sick every day and my family doesn’t understand what’s wrong with me. I used to smoke a lot of cannibus thinking it would help me be happier only to realize that it hasn’t helped because it’s caused my depression to grow where I had to stop completely and I no longer take medication either because nothing has helped me. I feel like depression may be a part of who I am and I don’t know how to deal with it. All I can say is hang on, maybe think about tms therapy. I haven’t done it but since it’s a non invasive procedure, it may help for some time and until then you can look up other ways to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Your not alone and I know it doesn’t help to read people’s stories but we are all in this together and we must help each other out because this is what life’s about. My life had no meaning until now I want to help people and make sure we are all happy because life is tough there is no doubt about it. If I may suggest something, medication is not for everyone. I have had scary reactions to medication where I now refuse to take any. If the meds aren’t working, tell your doctor and suggest an Mri cat scan because there may be something inside that’s causing all this for you. I need to do the same thing but this is just my opinion.

  13. Charlotte says:

    I have suffered from depression since I have been 17 or 18. I am now 34. I live on my own and although I love my family very much, I can not go on.
    Medication has not worked and my depression has been getting steadily worse, particularly since approx. 2010.I have seen many doctors and psychiatrists and been prescribed everything from Prozac, Ability, Risperdal, Deroxat, Effet or and Lithium and the list goes on.
    I exercise regularly, I manage to hold down a job (although I don’t like my job at all).
    I feel extraordinarily alone, and very sad. I no longer want to be alive.

    • Kayla says:

      Charlotte! Do not let this defeat you. Please seek out help immediately. You may need inpatient treatment. Your life hold tremendous value! You can rise above this. I’ll bet you’re an incredible person and very loved by many. I can whole heartedly relate… But it gets better! It may get worse again, but again will get better. We must find a way to cope. Please do not take your life. Seek help now.

      • Charlotte says:

        Thank you Kayla. My next appointment with a psychiatric hospital (as an out patient) is 8 July. I thought, last week, about trying to get a sooner date because things are excruciating for me but I think I can hold on until 8th. The last time I was there, last week, the doctor said he will put me on Nardial and perhaps cranial stimulation. I am too tired to give much of a fck, I’m afraid.
        I am waiting for news on a job I applied for. If I get the job, I might do this over the summer. It would still be nice to know I could get a new job even in the midst of very grave depression. If I don’t, I might go into hospital long term, although it didn’t help me before.
        Thanks again for replying.

        • Chris says:

          Hi Charlotte, just wanted to check in with you to see how you are and if the Nardil has been of help. Any news on the work front. I have an interview on 5th August which I’m preparing for, it’s with a University, so similar senior administrative type of role.
          Anyway send a reply to let me know how you’re doing.
          Chris

    • Matt says:

      Hi Charlotte

      Same age as you, about the same time with the illness, live alone, no friends, hold down a job so on the surface appear to be a functioning human being.
      It just gets so tiring, thinking that you are going to have to continue on with this for another 40 years plus.

      Fair play to you for seeking the treatment, I have kind of given up on it as it just seems to be circular. Whenever I have got to a point that I start feeling a little better my mind seems to drag me back down again.

      At 34 it feels as if life is starting to pass me by and that i am running out of time, but I am not sure for what, if that makes any sense at all.

      Daily suicidal thoughts, don’t seem to be going away and are the default position for an evening in before work starts again in the morning. Weekends are avoidance through novels or films.

      I do hope we can somehow push past this, what I wouldn’t give for one happy year. Anyway if you want to talk about it with someone in a similar position I would be happy to do so.

      What Kayla is saying is spot on, it is just getting to a point where you can believe it. Anyway I hope you make it, I think everyone deserves a bit of happiness in their lives.

      Matt

      • Charlotte says:

        Thanks, Matt, but hearing other people’s stories of depression and misery makes me feel even worse.
        I wish you all the best.

        • Chris says:

          Charlotte, how did your outpatient appointment go?
          Chris

          • Charlotte says:

            Hi Chris.
            During my appointment on Friday, the psychiatrist wrote me the prescription for Nardil but he stupidly forgot that its use (in France at least), its use has to be approved by a governing body. So I can only get the prescription tomorrow, at the pharmacy in the psychiatric hospital grounds (apparently it is not stocked at many pharmacies). I am working at the office tomorrow, which is approx. 40 minutes away from the hospital, but I will make time to go there at some point, although it will be difficult.
            I don’t mean to be rude when I say that reading other people’s experiences of severe, life-threatening depression really does not help me, but I’m afraid it makes me feel worse. I wake up every morning with profound sadness that I have woken up.
            While I have had brief moments of being less depressed since I was 18 years old, I never have never been free from depression, and I don’t want to keep hanging on just for a few days per year of feeling “less depressed than usual”. that really isn’t good enough, given that my default setting for many years has been really, chronically depressed, even while managing to hold down a job.
            I don’t have a romantic relationship and I never have, and I don’t have children, as much as I would love to. I do not want to be told to “think of my family” and how they would feel if I died- I think very often of my family, and I am a very loving person! But nobody ever says to someone with cancer , “think of your family! You have to keep holding on for them!”
            I am going to see how the Nardil goes, for a few weeks, anyway.

            Thank you for asking.
            Charlotte

          • Chris says:

            Hi Charlotte, I was really pleased to hear from you. I fully understand what you mean about hearing other people’s accounts and I know that it doesn’t help to hear as it doesn’t make the feelings any less. Hope the round trip to get the Nardil goes ok tomorrow. My dad was a pharmacist, so I started to understand more about my medication when it was prescribed for me. Which part of France do you live in? I lived in Paris for a year, but that was quite a while ago. My French is still good and I’m going for a job at Imperial college which would use it as part of a study in sub Saharan Africa. I wouldn’t be going there, rather I would be supporting the academics working in the field on an anti malarial project.
            When I read your message, I thought of the song You’ve got a friend in me for some reason as I fully understand your experience. Anyway keep in touch. I used to think that talking was not a help, but it surprised me to learn how to make good use from it.
            Chris

      • RDR says:

        Hi,

        You all are depressed in developed, wealthy and happy countries. Imagine I am in India and my romance with depression started the moment I was born- an unwanted child whose arrival coincided with the catastrophic loss of high-profile Govt. administrative job (without benefit). This turned my family upside-down and finally threw us to the road-side shanty. Along with severe monetary crunch, there came some collaterals to make things literally unbearable, like- all near relatives deserting us least they end up as guardians of four siblings, no monitory support coming from any direction……..Let me cut short…then I lost my mother when I was 13-14 – after one year I lost my father to cancer- me and one of my sisters took to teaching as private in-home tutors in order to survive- then the next catastrophe was my passing the class-X and 12th with flying colours- then I cracked the national joint entrance exam for admission to engineering courses and this was a bad position to be in as engineering needs money-despite scoring good rank , I opted out from taking all major prestigious eng. colleges (needing money and located in far-away states out of my reach) to everyone’s surprise and took mechanical engineering in a small-time college in my native state – then I fell in love with a junior of my college-then completed engg. and managed to get good private job-then helped my girlfriend to come to the state where I was working and helped her to get a job- then I resigned from my job to go for MBA as per her wishes- then as ill like would have it, we got separated suddenly leaving me helpless and quickly she moved to US and married one of my known friend and got settled there- I was really devastated took to drinking and soon exhausted all the saved money- had to leave my MBA course in between……..this time I somehow cleared a central government ministerial job which gave me stability from the very first day- after 2 years I went for an arranged marriage to a good girl who is also a govt. officer- but suddenly she started suffering from severe spondyliticities restricting 60% of her body movements in course of the 1st year of our marriage- she got critical and had started taking pain killers and even steroids – then after some years – I suffered a severe heart-attack and somehow survived with two stents in 100% blocked arteries – this attack was a severe one and turned me weaker by the day and put breaks on my work efficiency, agility and even mental strength – then got to know that having our own baby is a risk considering the pain killers my wife takes ( chanches more complications and possibility of giving still birth or brain damage)- then both decided not to go for own kids (not easy to convince others in India)………and finally, I got, perhaps the best thing I was destined to—we adopted a 8 months old boy—he now 6 years old- strangely he is ditto like me in appearance–now this angel has changed our like-even my wife’s health improved–the occasional heart pain I have just vanishes when I get my boy sit over my chest & when I restle with him…slowly catching up with age, we both (mommy & papa) are catching some health complications but, as I told-when I look at my boy’s face, I sort of get some extra energy quite enough to leave me with the inner strength and spirit to even stage war with God this time should he desires to take me along–…so get a responsibility and get into the best job in this world… the job of bringing smiles to the hopeless and merciless destitute children…I do this and also sponsor studies of such children…..obviously, I get the best package for this job–the smiles on their faces…believe me I was never better than what I am today……

  14. Samuel says:

    I think depression is the inability to express certain emotions such as anger or sadness because they are too strong and subsequently deemed wrong in this society, which is exactly what creates a fear that can’t be overcome.
    The feelings could be expressed if we didn’t live in such a fast-paced time. Because that’s my theory: depression exists because we don’t get the time to process the past. Evertime I go to the therapist I feel pressured to perform. I feel I have to do something. It’s so pointless.
    Anyways I’ve had it for 9 years now. I can live with it because I’ve been living by trial and error pretty much. Oh this I can say, this I can’t. This i can do, this I can’t. This person likes me, this person doesn’t. I memorize what people do or say so that I can act accordingly. I am just numb. Sometimes there’s pain, but I don’t care anymore. I am the one who has to deal with my suicidal thoughts when I’m alone, so fuck this. Everyday is just survival. Everyday is fighting the exhaustion that comes from functioning. I could be anything or anybody because I’m nothing and nobody. Whatever life throws at me, I’ll just keep going. Whatever happens, I’ll just keep running until it’s over.

    • Valentina says:

      Wow, is just what I feel, gosh, am I going to cope with this for so long? The only reason I haven’t tried anything yet is because I don’t want my mom to feel guilty, mostly because I know guilt is one of the worse feelings ever, and I don’t want to hurt her that way. I been thinking that I’ll survive till her death, after that I have no plans, there’s no one else.

  15. maquita says:

    I’m 26yo. Single mother and retired from the military barely half a year ago. I am again sorta coming to terma that there is something “wrong” with me. I am diagnosed with MDD. I honestly never took it seriousness until recently. I feel like I’m stuck on my own head amd i can’t escape. I lose the words i wanna say and I’m constantly running but not withy feet. Understanding what is going on is very important. I don’t claim the disorder. But i have been suffering from it for so long that i have adapted into it. I feel like i just looked in a mirror and i almost saw myself again. I just wanted to say that. My feelings don’t work atm buty head is live. It’s exhausting. I just rediscovered myself reading this…Thank you for posting this. I’m glad i read this .it’s crazy how my shoulders just relaxed .one day at a time huh?

  16. Aaron says:

    So I’m 26, I have felt kinda effed up pretty much my entire adult life until about an hour ago. I met a girl about a week ago and over the last week, I realized she wasn’t for me. Last night I realized that brute force honesty is the best policy. Just now, ( I have a online dating profile) I erased everything. I put looking for brute force honesty as my headline and within 5 min, I got a message from a… Turns out it was just spam for a webcam site.

    Anyway, can I post this article at work, I want to make it a cover that just says “deep shit” in bright letters or it wont get picked up. I can think of a couple people it might help. Thanks.

  17. KatG says:

    I completely feel this way, I felt like I’ve always been a depressed person, even as a child I just wasn’t normal. I was always sad or upset, didn’t like to hangout or play with the other kids, I always was the one that stayed in the corner. I used to cut myself when I was 6 years old. My parents never even thought to notice anything was wrong with me, because I always seemed happy to them.

    Now, I’m 26 and I just adapted to it and have gotten used to the feelings of depression. I work most of the time and spend time with my small family as a distraction. I do have my days where I feel like I am happy or I’m having a good day, but when something happens that’s chaotic, it brings me right back down for a long time. I always feel like I hit back to square one with my depression when something uneventful occurs. Once I feel like I’ve recuperated though, it always starts back up as a vicious cycle. Depression to me feels like this scar that never completely heals, and reopens over and over again. I’ve tried to read so many different self-help books and tried meditation and natural remedies to help depression. I even tried changing my own thought processes and rerouting how I react to certain situations, however nothing has worked for me.

    I do wish everyone the best of luck and thank you for your time.

  18. Marie says:

    Kate, Hope you are alright. I understand your post (been exactly there, too; decades of treatment with no results.) I know that depression is evil and a life-destroyer. But I also know that God wants us to persevere. We live in a fallen world, and are combatants in the struggle between good and evil. Hang in there. I am keeping you in my prayers. Let us know you are okay.

    And Peter, I too was suicidal as a child. It’s NOT normal. But you’re not alone. Keeping you also in my prayers. Let us know you’re okay.

    “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. ” ~ Psalm 34:18

    “But the one who endures to the end will be saved. ” ~ Matthew 24:13

    “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” ~ James 1:12

  19. Peter says:

    People have given up on me getting better because apparently ‘I don’t want to get better’ and people tell me depression only should last a while not forever. But I was a suicidal child – I don’t think that is normal. Now at 40 I am tired of living inside this brain of mine.

    • Bec says:

      I feel you Peter.
      I feel that I’m a victim of my own brain. I feel that my brain is a burden and that it is something that is never going to change.
      Sometimes i actually don’t want to get better. I don’t know who i would be without my depression and sometimes, i just don’t really give a fuck.
      I’m done. I’m exhausted.
      But I’m proud of you and if you can keep battling for this long maybe i can too.
      Would love to know how you are going and praying that you’re still fighting.

  20. Cynthia says:

    I truly believe I’m losing my mind. Dear God why have You allowed this??? Bcuz I’m zero.

    • Lynda says:

      Cynthia, I turned 60 this fall also. I sincerely wish you a happy birthday! I have been diagnosed with clinical depression with panic since my early 20’s. I know I had problems with it as a teen – in addition to the usual girly self-esteem issues.

      I do believe it is genetic as I look around my own family. I still (but it is waning) see things better down the road. I know when in a deep spot it feels there is NO hope. Time to seek help again..I know you don’t want to. I do not either. Everything is chaos in this house and last night my 30 yr old called me a pill popper – perhaps I am, but have never been called an abuser by the MD’s I see – I think I do use opiates to bring me to normal. Keeps me going.

      Sure would love to have someone or someones to discuss it daily privately. I don’t need more ignorant comments coming my way. I am here to help…..at least by the written word.

      Will never preach religion, etc – just need a friend who “gets it”. We are the only ones who do. I do think suicide is the biggest mistake – leave yourself no options. Just my take.

      • Lynda says:

        By the way, I don’t think we were meant to be married. I am 30 yrs into a second marriage I knew was wrong at 3 yrs – just nicer to raise kids with their dad. Financially easier too…he is not the abusive type but I take verbal abuse from my daughters, physical and verbal from my exes, can not even begin to tell you even as an adult the pain my mother caused. I let this happen, looking back. Can only speak for myself..try tobsolve everyone’s problems and make them happy – no good deed goes unpunished, is true.

      • Patty says:

        Lynda, how do you get your doctor to prescribe opiates to you? When I have taken them for pain, they made me feel human and functional again. With all the restrictions now you pretty much have to had an extremely serious condition.

        Patty

        • Linda says:

          Opiate are NOT the answer. There are good anti depressants on the market. Wellbutrin has the added benifit of weight maintenance or even reduction of you need. Opiates only being on another problem. Addiction. Prayers for you.

    • Petit says:

      Hi everyone – I stumbled on this site while searching for something else. And I just can’t help sharing this with everyone. I suffer from depression too and what I read here is very familiar to what I go through. The main thing I wanted to share is that I have recently read something called Ho’oponopono – not a religious thing okay. Here are two links for more info http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/practice-hooponopono-four-simple-steps/ and in5d.com/free-hooponopono-training-learn-how-here/ I have noticed there is a huge need to release emotions, and let go. Am hoping you would all read and give it a try before saying it sounds too weird. And yes, I would be glad to know how any of you felt if they did try it. I find it helps tremendously in stopping the huge flow of useless thoughts and makes me calmer. And that made me find Joe Vitale’s book called Zero Limits. Let me know if any of you want me to share the link where you can download it for free. May this bring light to everyone. TC

  21. Cynthia says:

    I still don’t get it. I wasn’t born this way. I’m 60 yrs old today. I have been tormented and abused, physically and mentally by so many people. 2 marriages of pure hell. The verbal abuse I think is the worse. I’ve been publicly humiliated and embarrassed. I have always been the first person to give help, financial or emotional. I’ve never been treated the same way. I’m less than zero. It’s been proven to me dozens of times. Now I’m old and I know I am out of time. There’s no time left to hope for love or happiness. I have no hope. No meds help. They can’t change my reality. Do I feel like killing myself? Sometimes. I don’t know how much longer I can endure. I never asked for any of this. I’m bitter sad lonely and heartbroken. I was not born this way!! Can you understand the difference?? I wanted to be happy. All I ever wanted was what normal women want and I see them getting it. Sometimes they do nothing to deserve it but its happily handed to them. I just don’t get why God would love terrible ppl and not me. I’ve been a good person bcuz I wanted to be. I have treated ppl the way I wanted to be treated. And now after 60 yrs of this I have no hope. I’m zero. A joke. Nothing. But I don’t even know why.

    • Jay says:

      Cynthia, Wow, I am 32yrs old and male…. I have 3 kids 2,3 and 4 and a very hormonal misses who has been hurt badly in the past. My mother and father went through a rough divorce after 19yrs, (police, violence and verbal abuse) lived together for 2 years while it was being “finalised” and left me and my younger brother really shocked at how life could turn out.
      Since then my mother has been lucky enough to re marry however she is still very bitter towards my father (even though she is a christian and apparently about forgiveness) and is still obviously holding grudges.
      Being the older son I have learnt that karma does exist and I am happy my mum and dad did divorce as they grew apart… taught me that life is full of chapters and if one finishes, dont keep reading back on it, look for ways to write to the future,,, kinda like a diary although I never kept one.

      Just my 2 pence worth.

      Hope its made u smile at least

      Regards Jay

  22. Kate says:

    I am about to give up. Too much pain for too long. Depression has to a great extent ruined my life, and treatment after treatment doesn’t work. Who needs this? Now my husband has died, so I have no one and nothing in my life.

    • Marie says:

      Kate,

      Hope you are alright. I understand your post (been exactly there, too; decades of treatment with no results.) I know that depression is evil and a life-destroyer. But I also know that God wants us to persevere. We live in a fallen world, and are combatants in the struggle between good and evil. Hang in there. I am keeping you in my prayers. Let us know you are okay.

      And Peter,

      I too was suicidal as a child. It’s NOT normal. But you’re not alone. Keeping you also in my prayers. Let us know you’re okay.

      “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. ” ~ Psalm 34:18

      “But the one who endures to the end will be saved. ” ~ Matthew 24:13

      “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” ~ James 1:12

  23. Jason says:

    Been having a really bad time of it lately and just stumbled across this sight looking for answers, it’s made me cry a lot but it all makes sense

    Jason
    Oxford
    UK

  24. Susan says:

    I really liked your article and I could relate to some of the things you said..I would like to obtain feedback to my situation whether by you ar your fan base as I am really stuck and don’t know where to go from here…here is my story..I moved from ontario to the canadian arctic in 2002 and resided there for a period of 10 years. The arctic is very isolated, has no vegetation due to the climate and has its own series of social problems…in 2007 while working as a labour relations consultant with the territorial government a new boss by the title of Director of Employee relations was hired. This woman was a bully from day one and either chose to pick on me or on my coworker in order to feel powerful. Both my coworker and I were openly lesbians. Well after about 3 years of this I filed a harassment complaint following an external investigation was founded. My coworker also had file a human rights complaint against this woman while her complaint was waiting for resolution she committed suicide and I suspect cause she couldn’t handle the abuse anymore. A year later my close friend and her ex partner attempted suicide an I found her luckily she was ok. After these events and additional harrasment treatment for the year in between that the employer did not address I saw a medical practitioner that highly recommended I leave the territory for mental health reasons which I did. Once back in central canada I encountered many pitfalls when it came to healthcare as I was not a resident of ontario until I had been in ontario for 4 months. During this timeframe I grew more and more depressed and when I was finally able to obtain healthcare and phsycho therapy the employer I worked for up north terminated my employment and benefits. I grew extremely depressed and turned to gambling and lost many tens of thousands of dollars. My plan was to gamble all my money away and eventually commit suicide myself as I was so hurt, sick and screwed up. I was also experiencing numerous physical health issues that just crept up and had not been diagnosed while in the north. 2 years ago I met a nice woman that helped nurse me back to health then the lies started in regards to her alcohol consumption and her disclosure of having a head tumour that doesn’t exist. We recently broke up. I feel like my depression temporarily gets better and then I fall deeper…I have very little support as I came back as damaged goods and fear that my only option will lead to my vomitting suicide as I am no longer current in my field (haven’t worked in 4 years), I have had to cash in my pension to sue my employer for wrongful dismissal and harassment (court system is slow and I have filed w the courts 2 years ago with a mini,u, of 2 more years to go). I just couldn’t live with myself if I just walked away and accept them ruining my life and causing me ongoing hardships. I fear I will never live a normal life again and I am turning 50 in August. Any help, suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated as I feel very alone, isolating myself from the few people I know and unemployed therefore have no distraction from my situation. I also have newly developed physical health problems that keep me away from excercising as with any small amount of exertion my blood pressure drops to 60 over 40…appreciate all comments whether positive or negative. Should clarification be required on any points of my story please feel free to ask.

    • Penny says:

      I am 55 female single and have recurring depression. Just when I thought I would look forward to life and made a move to Cyprus from London with careful planning depression has came with a vengeance and I feel I will never come out of it. Any encourgement is welcomin

  25. Silk says:

    P.S. forgot to say I had to apologise to her because I got angry because she rejected me just like every other woman in my 36 years of living.

  26. Silk says:

    I use to be happy being sad. I know that sounds weird. But then I met her. Fell in love with her she rejected me. Tried to apologise. She rejected that. Now instead of being happy sad. I am miserably miserable. And don’t think I’ll ever get over it. Depression has become apart of my identity.

  27. ms saira says:

    I wish I had been able to print out and give a copy of this article to my CBT therapist two years ago. I described myself as ‘not ready’ for the treatment when we accepted an unproductive result. I think she agreed on the basis that she could report me as failing to engage, but this wasn’t the case at all. Suffering through decades of depression makes you experience life in a completely differnent way to the non-depressed…well everyone experiences life subjectively- but she was trying to introduce scenarios to me that simply made no sense. My depressed mine has built a different world to one that even I hadn’t recognised as being so limited. Basically I have gone into damage limitation and survival mode. Only as I’m ageing and experiencing hormonal changes am I able to have insights into a world and life that could be lived differently, but a few decades earlier would have been more useful. I haven’t seen such a good breakdown before of the different phases of depression and identification that a sufferer goes through. It’s hard to self-identify as depressed when you can’t appraise yourself in the third person, and a diagnosis becomes a stigma as much as it may also come as a relief.

  28. MP says:

    long tem depression in my life for more than 20 years. Medications haven’t really helped. Always working to get back to that stable happy fun loving me.

    • cassie says:

      I think I’m similar, it started for me around age 9 and has come and gone since then, as I got older the ‘lows’ for worse and longer whilst the good times got shorter. I believe that happiness doesn’t come naturally to everyone, my natural state is depressed but as I’ve got older I’ve learnt to ‘manage’ it. Medication hasn’t helped but changes in my lifestyle has. From time to time something happens and Im consumed by depression again but eventually I regain my balance.

  29. T.D. says:

    Conversely, “Finding out that you have a diagnosable condition shared by millions” but that is not treatable, taken seriously, or socially acceptable is incredibly dis-empowering. After wasting thousands on therapy and being told that I’m being unreasonable in hoping the “cure” might include not wishing I was dead every waking hour (and in most dreams), I just return to status quo doing my work, taking care of other people, and hoping for a terminal illness. I think 50+ years of depression is enough suffering and at 66 I’m not going to bite another time on the depression cure myths. Not only are the medications worse than the disease (which is often the case in the for-profit medicine business) but therapy is barely more than a way to transfer money from my pocket to the therapist’s.

    A few years ago, I lowered my sights from wanting to be reasonably happy to just hoping for a periods out of the year when I was glad to have survived a day or two. So far, even that low bar has been unattainable.

    • bb says:

      I too have suffered from depression my whole life. Now @ 50 plus yrs old, I feel as though I have ‘given up’ up on life. My husband says that one day I will wake up and there won’t be anymore time to live. Him telling me this only makes me feel more depressed and stressed out. I’ve lost my depressed identity all these years because I have (for the most part) put on a front and pretended to be happy and normal for my family and especially my children). Now they are grown and out of the house, I feel as if I have no reason to fake my happiness.

  30. Allan says:

    i was diagnosed with depression in the mid 90’s in fact my GP surgery have me on a program that lets me get last minute appointments and i also have a copy of my current treatment plan and a list of notes entitled,”Paitients Medical Information”. here it lists significant details about my medical past, including, and i quote directly from the document,
    “DATE Problem Associated Text
    28-Jan 2001 Anxiety with depression. long history of condition.”

    today i am picking up my prescriptions for medication on a weekly basis, this is to prevent me from overdosig, which is a distinct possibillity. but this action keeps me from harm, the medication itself, i’m currently taking mertazipine, although i have not noticed any improvement in my mood or my black outlook over the last 11 months of taking it, the only medication that does seem to have shown remarkable results is propranolol. i have lost all but a few of the physical reactions to my anxiety, i am of the thought that i have depression, i know in my own mind that i will never be the same again, it has been a long road this last 19 years especially as i haven’t been able to work for 15 of those. i will and have tried various treatments varying from CBT & psycology, psyciatrists, and even just going out for a walk with the dogs to try and alter my mood for the better, but to no avail, walking the dogs in itself, i used to find relaxing, but now i dread the time outside and potential exposure to people, i find myself on and off the loo for a while before i go an any planned expedition, weather it is to walk the dogs or get my groceries. i no longer have any kind of relationship with either of my daughters, concentration is a big issue with me, like just now, this prompted me to write of it, i find myself in the middle of doing something or going somewhere when i am completely at a loss as to what i’m doing or where i’m going or what for. i have taken to have the sat nav as my permanent driving companion as i only have to look at the screen to know where i’m supposed to be going, saves me a lot of frustration and at least i don’t just go home because i couldn’t remember.
    the other thing is i cannot live without my mobile phone!! the calander and alarm functions completely run my life, reminders are set and forgotten about for appointments, meeting up with my mum or other family member, all reminding me the night before and then in plenty of time on the day to get me there on time. i also have alarms with reminders to take my medication, otherwise i’d just forget and then i get into all sorts of (especially physical) stmptoms rearing their ugly heads!!!
    but thanks to my phone i’m more or less regulated with my meds now. but even after going through this for 19 years is draining, i still, regardless of treatments feel no desire for anything, have no hope that this will improve, when i do have a “good” day (usually more like a few hours) i just do the normal things that as a rule i normally have difficulty doing, like shopping, or even something as basic as having a filter coffee at a cafe.
    i don’t know weather this will make any sence to many people.

    good luck to anyone achieving some form of balance.

  31. dyan lynn says:

    Sorry, u can tell, Ive gone stir crazy, No1 Talk.2, Family, Friends can’t talk2, Live far away + don’t understand. I see new Dr.in town reg.but Drs. don’t give U time of day n.e.more o trustm, I can’t trust any neighbrs here,tried + allm just take advant.,In kind,giving, I know Im lucky not 2 have been suffern as long as sum,rest of u seem 2,=Im So Sorry 4 this is my 1st.ever, even, reading bout it, as Ive got symptoms much worse as uve described, o want +pills, revisit childhood, Ive over active brain, Been ref.2a Psychologist + Im financially strapd, ins.maybe $?, Im afraid 2 talk 2 any1, If go, going nxt town over, I think Ive bcm a paranoid schitzo, lost mind, gone crazy, Been told 2 leave stores cuz can’t make mind, have 2 do A lot, U Dont, barely get thru it, Been tryn get SSI, since 2006 Was told B, PD, by neuro, TOS, nvr wanted thought,try work, 10 yrs,many failed jobs, crisis,deaths,+Surgs,, Still denied cant find way, 1 pers.cares enuff, o listn, help, tried #211, hotlines, send U County, its impossble 2 find right, trusting, non-corrupt, tiny towns do know talk find judge +++, than where, whom, what ? IDK, Im Scared. Thanks 4 reading or listening

  32. dyan lynn says:

    1st.+4most, I’ve been physically disabled 14 yrs.chronic pain issues,startd 14yrs.go,ERs/Surgs,Diagnoses of So many different cond.due 2 Dr’s lack knowlge,.Apoligize4 my Text,spellnSpine,neck,nerve damg, makes hard2read..2003Drs took me off work,cuz my wrists elbows,shoulders=pain, put Wrk comp.sent2so many Drs. All giving diffrent op’s,ER trips,weight=345;Morbidly Obese” they cald me,Im female,was happily married w/kid,job luvd,friends,tried diets,so on, tryn make short as posbl, After ER trips 3kidney stones,pancreatitis,gout,(borderline)Diab,5 yrs.of WC drs, diag,Carpel,Cubutol,Tendon,sent me all ovr 4phys.therapy,(o Mri or Ct), Alln agreedn said Gastric Bypass Surg.lose weight + All ur probs go away,(Wrong), lost200#, my stom(old fash.o rubber band), My Sis 32yrs.beautuful followd suit,single2kids,in2Bikini & She killed herself lsst yr.Foundr body in Freezer as she drank,Xanax,strugld w/Dep.feeln hopeless, despair,lost kids,+Nobody Cared.She couldnt Ever get/find Real Help, Any1(Fam,friends), All thought Addict,nvr listening2 real probs..Ive Nvr been So Lost, Dep,Isol,Angry,Al feelngs of major depresn,my fault, made Bad choices,still am, $home tiny town bcz cheap 2$,0 loan,husbnd startd drugs,now jail,All Fam.no talk,no friends,can’t trust 1, find n.e.1,can’t kill myself2,cant do it 2 em,(nor have guts) -since 03,150#s ,loss=200#w,Every Yr.,Had new Surg.following, Hernias,Infectns, Diabetes,Galstones +Diab.Now, given list 15+ Cond.like T.o.s.(no1 knows), D.D.D.,Fibro Dep.believe maybe Bipolar?Back+Neck disc.hern.buldges,Cerv,dystonia, Tendonitus,,constant Anemia, HBP, last was 2012, infectd. mesh,+probs Drs All said, Lose Weight, Id Live longer, Healthier+Happier “! Life, WRONG, All much Worse since, now im150#Same, painful,I Lost my Life,ay(haI now Hate 1st.Home,Town,People finding out now, physically1st.time 1y,from c

  33. miles says:

    John
    the effect of depression on self definition is enormous and insidious and for those whose lives have been dominated by depression ( as mine has) the real self can seem small and only fleetingly experienced. I think people who suffer in this way need to be reminded constantly that they are so much more and if they have missed conventional milestones ( whole developmental phases even )because of their isolation and non participation, there is a still a pure brave wise and healthy flame inside that longs to be recognized , encouraged and needs to be supported. I never tire of hearing testimonials to this effect and it is a storyline that can be reiterated in many nourishing forms. John I really started thinking about this topic a lot after reading your expose where depression had defined so much of your previous life …so thanks for that. Yoga has played a big part in healing my depression , accessing the undamaged self beneath the often negative traffic noises in the mind etc etc .This true self/ false self divide might be a bit of a simplification but when you first become aware of the difference it does seem that stark. I realize I hardly knew myself -the self I thought I knew was loaded with shame and loss through missing life’s prizes ( good relationships , career, material rewards ) I am working to find values and a narrative that aligns with the self I am discovering.Stories that expose how depression insinuates itself into personal identity are of great therapeutic value.
    Miles

  34. Silvio says:

    Hey, this is pretty much what happens to me. Depression’s been my allied since I have use of memory. In my particular case, it was due to my family history + genetic inheritance, of course.
    My mother and her mother were extremely dramatic, manipulative and sick people (the ultra catholic type): you absorb all that, unfortunately, and becomes a part of your essence (self-destructive type).

    I’m 32 years old, homosexual, cut all communication links with my family and it’s hard for me to bond with people at work or socially speaking in general. I’ve been in a mental institution when I was 24 due to a suicide attempt. I’ve been medicated my whole life, but no matter what drug I try, the side effects are awful: if you don’t get a sick stomach, you turn into a zombie or get eternal headaches. It’s awful.

    Doesn’t matter how many people tell you the rules for happiness; nothing works sometimes.

    I guess the solution is just to hang in there. Today I’m in one of those days (and a bad one), but I guess it’s just a matter of “passing the moment”.

    Today I don’t feel up to giving an advise, sorry. My heart is with all the people that suffer this condition.

  35. Maros says:

    This is the ABSOLUTELY best insight into major depression I HAVE EVER READ in my entire life. And I’m a life-time sufferer of what they called ‘endogenous’ depression.

    This article presents facts and crucial association of facts that make sense and explain the true nature of the illness/disorder.

    I am tired of website that tell you how to breath, talk to self positively and put exercise before medication. These people mistake blues for real major-to-severe depression that sucks souls out of people.

    People often see us as wimps or lazy folks who cover behind the disorder. How little clue they have. The fact is that long-term sufferers are people with OUTSTANDING survival instinct, enormous will to live and battle every single day, in hard times every single minute. We are brave and full of life despite the rusty cage of depression that paralyzes us in our efforts, dreams and goals.

    My heart goes to all co-suffers of debiliating conditions of depression and anxiety and everyone can anytime talk to me. I’m a good soul and great listener and no one’s suffering leaves me untouched.

  36. omicroneridani says:

    Thank you so much for this article. This is the first thing on depression that I’ve read in awhile that actually gave me something to think about.

  37. Kevin says:

    Great posts and honesty here I’m 30 yr living with depression major issues frm youth still at force in my mind never remember much happiness except my kids battery dying now but il be bk for sure we all sharing symptoms so understanding is present this helps no end love you all sad and worried souls out there …

  38. Chockfullofdepression says:

    When I was a child, a toddler, I believe, my mother used to start each of my days asking me to open my mouth, she’d look inside and say, “Now let’s see who is inside there today, Happy or Sad?” I am 45 and have been dealing with life-altering and shattering depression since my teen years. I have, been fighting my self for as long as I can remember. I have, thus far, won my battle with my depression, but I know that it will probably kill me someday. It sneaks up on me, it starts slowly with a thought, an irrational response to a stressful situation. My mind, quite simply says, “You should kill yourself.” Anything can trigger it and it happens out of the blue. It is both a comfort and a terror – so familiar that it bathes me in its arms, and tells me to give in completely. Sadly, there’s such an attraction to being morbidly depressed – there are no expectations, I can lay in bed, avoid everyone I know and not be a part of the world. It’s a feeling that I am familiar with, one that I actually miss when I am happy – I realize that’s sick, but it’s what I’ve known for so long that my mind starts to miss it if it’s too far away. Don’t get me wrong – I love being happy, but I know that my depression is lurking in my mind, that it never truly leaves me. I have come to accept that is who I am and will always be.

    • Maros says:

      Don’t worry buddy, it won’t kill you. You’ve came this far and you’ve grown very strong. For us, the terms happy and unhappy means very different conditions as for most people. I am happy when I feel free, decisive, able to relax. Unhappy on the other hand, means being virtually housebound, super fragile, avoidant, scared, anxious beyond imagination. So what. They say, depression doesn’t kill, suicide does. And that has to be avoided for all cost. Because being from very down, to kinda ok – this still constitutes life. Our very own, unique and only chance on this planet. So why back off? No way! I’ve dealt with maybe 15 excruciating episodes. They left me on 50% disability. Every time I (sort of) overcome one and get back to (sort of life) I am like, wow, I would miss this and that if I didn’t hang in back there. And I’m glad I swallowed all that pain and live through it.

      Have a hope in development in the medical field as well. Life with our disorder gets shitty, a lot and often, but maybe it gives something to us as well. Me for example, am very fair, kind and compassionate, empathic person, very sensitive to suffering of others and willing to help. Not saying it was all worth it, but it made me a better person towards others.

      I’m wishing you best of luck and I hope one day it’s all gonna start to change for the better.

  39. Bruce says:

    A bit of background. I have been struggling with depression and anxiety, recently diagnosed as PTSD, most likely being a result of being born premature, into a traumatic family situation as my mother hemoraged badly at home and at hospital. I was born 4 pounds 4 ounces, came home 3lbs 8 ounces. My older brother and sister had been left to clean up the mess of the mattress and room and to become my primary caretakers while my father attempted to care for my mother and guide my siblings on how to care for me. I was an army child, so we moved a lot in my first 7 years of life. I was often ill during these years, and my father was often off base leaving family at home. On his retirement, he didn’t adjust to civilian life well. My father had dealt with PTSD ever since the end of WWII. I would often sit and wonder what was wrong with him when I would find him awake in the middle of the night, staring at nothing, with a drink in hand.
    The first civilian town we moved to, I was first placed in the wrong grade, and I had trouble getting accustomed to the difference of life on base, which was very rule oriented, versus civilian life. I was bullied by the neighbours and emotionally and physically abused at times. We moved to another town to get away from it and it really wasn’t much better. We moved to my father’s home town when I was 11, and it was a very happy time, but he died suddenly in his 56 year when I was 12. I was devestated by it and my mother went into a deep depression. I felt alone and on reflection, I was very angry and depressed. I had frequent illnesses again during this period. My mother and I used to fight a lot when I was a teenager. I was lonely had poor relationships in high school and a few very difficult relationships with girls.

    I joined the military at the age of 19 and was washed out due to severe lung infections.

    Throughout the years after I got married, I had a very happy time, was very successful, and am now married 33 years. I have two adult daughters. About 15 years ago, people suggested I speak to my doctor about depression, and I was identified with depression and placed on meds, with no therapy and off work for 6 weeks. I returned for 2 weeks, then I was ordered off and received therapy and increased medication. I gradually returned to work over 9 months, but I remained moody over the years. I was laid off about 3 years later and changed careers to become a teacher. I was successful in my new career, but depression and anxiety began to take over me again, and after 4 years, when in a difficult school, I was ordered off work, attempted only one return, and now am off for over 4 years.

    I sleep poorly, have little to no stamina, and I schedule my week to do very little, for fear of the lack of stamina. My family is close to me, but have become tired of me talking about my disease.

    Recently, my psychiatrist of 4 years suggested that I had come to identify with my illness and it was now my identity, defining who I am and what I do. I do agree with him, but have no idea how to get out of this.

    I am now defined as treatment resistant, I have learned to work through the difficult times using meditation, but I just can’t seem to find the motivation to eat well, thereby my IBS flairs up and digestive problems occur, my gastreal reflux is severe now, and causing sinus problems, I can’t sleep and can’t get back into the habit of using my CPAP machine, so sleep is not really healthy without it. I can’t motivate myself to exercise. I keep trying new treatments, have declined to consider new medications without intensive monit0ring because I have had so many side effects from medications. I have been on clonazapam for 4 years now and cannot withdraw without symptoms of withdrawal, but it does manage anxiety somewhat, but I keep having to gradually increase the dose about once per year as I become tollerant to it.

    So I know that I am restricting myself from making choices in life to have fun with my wife, I fear driving any distance and used to love driving, I fear taking on too much at a time, as it tires me, and with that my anxiety and depression gets worse and my sleep goes with it.

    I have tried volunteering, but had to stop due to stamina, tried various activities and dropped them again due to stamina, or I just could not find joy in anything. So the outcome is that now I have little physical strength, frequent health issues to deal with, and depression and anxiety symptoms that come and go in an unpredictable way.

    So, with this reality that mental illness is now my identity, I am stuck on how to move on.

    Any thoughts, Bruce

  40. Jo says:

    Princess. Please don’t act on those feelings. You are currently of school age so you must feel trapped by the predicament and behaviour of your parents. In a sense you are currently stuck physically in that situation but your imagination is boundless. This is a temporary, transient situation, you must not fall victim to other’s difficulties, no matter how much they impact upon you now. There are many solutions, though they won’t come clear all at once. One current solution is simply to know that nothing stays the same and when you are of adult age you can ‘escape’. Mentally, prepare what you would like to do for your future even if you feel trapped now. You need to have some ‘escape’ dreams so that bit by bit you can make them slowly materialise. Most of all, confide how you feel, without inhibition to someone you trust. Talking helps. Take care

  41. Princess says:

    I really feel like killing myself right now.. My mom is in a sick bed,my dad can’t work enough to get me into school and my life to me has no meaning.. Am about putting an end to this miserable life of mine,, I just wanted someone to know what I’m going through…

    • justcallmesally says:

      I can honestly say I feel the same way, and what is more truth, I have felt this way for at least 35 yrs. I feel I have put off the inevitable, to end my life, by trying to find ways that I never feel such deep depths of depression, which some findings or past experiences have helped, but they do not last. Now in my mid-50s it has only got worse and meds and counseling do not seem to help.

      What’s more sickening, in my heart of hearts, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why I feel this way. Yeah, I had some traumatic experiences as a younger child and in my late teens and early 20s. But, I was not depressed or ever felt depressed then. I saw myself as strong, roll with the punches kind of gal. Knock me down, I get back up. And, even threw my younger years of serious depression, I moved forward, still feeling like I could, would and will do anything to inspire my self-image to keep on trekking. To feel happiness, fulfillment, contentment, while helping other people to have a better day or life.

      For more than 30 years, I worked out, mtn biked, camped, hiked, dated, fell in love, out of love, raised a daughter, have a beautiful granddaughter….and then in the last year, it’s like my mind fell off the cliff and I’m falling fast or crashing fast — but my body hasn’t caught up with my mind. I feel dead in spirit and that my body is a shell that is keeping me upright and walking, but there is absolutely no other reason that explains why I am still alive. I think about dying more, now, than I do living…a curse that I have lived with most my life; but in my younger years, it has been more like seasonal flu than the actual state of my mind.

      When I reflect on my past, my depression definitely explains much of my behavior during certain experiences, and my constant dislike for being around other people. I have managed to push any friend I ever had, completely out of my life. I have never married because I see or know no good that comes from a marriage. At least it is far and few between. Same with friends and dating, I don’t have or do this anymore. I just don’t have any energy for people or dating. My life feels soooooo empty, and being around other people or trying to date, just accentuates my emptiness. And growing up in a believe in God, go to church home, I have tried Church in recent months again, praying, reading the bible – and I get nothing. I feel absolutely nothing that other people say they feel when he/she talks about how happy God makes them feel. It’s God that gives them life and purpose. Since I don’t ever feel this, it adds insult to injury for me. Why do I not feel the spirit of God and life like other people? It only leads me to think and feel that I am truly not worthy, and my life is even more hopeless.

      It’s okay to be a strong, confident and independent woman. But it is not okay to be like this and have depression take over your mind. My constant depressive state of mind keeps drawing me back in to the circle of thinking that I have failed life, I have failed my family, former friends, coworkers, and I have failed my own life. I serve no purpose in this world then to just exist. And what hurts even more, are the innocent lives of the young and very very happy people that bring goodness into this world that his/her life is taken from them. Just makes no sense to me why someone who has more to offer in life, then me, and yet I am alive and that person’s life is taken from them.

      I have planned so many ways I could end my own life, but it’s like I’m testing fate. Do I really want to cross that final line! Especially when I know this is what I am going to do at the 11th hour. It’s no longer a thought of will I, or if I do, but a destined goal of when will I? When I hear about someone ending his/her life, it awakens a reality in me. A wow sensation; I feel sadness for the person and their family and friends, but I feel I understand why the person ended his/her life. On the flip side, suicide is what it is, to stop existing NOW. Whether you believe in the afterlife or not…this is what stopped me most the time in my younger life. I believe in an afterlife, and I thought man, if I end my life, what guarantee do I have that I will not feel this pain in my head, in my thinking, in my value-system? If I didn’t believe in an afterlife, then I think I would have ended my life way back in my 20s. Life goes on, other people manage to be great at making life great for their community and for other people. They are happy — or they see beyond their own self-image; he/she realizes that life is not about him/her; it is about living and using what God given talents he/she has.

      Unfortunately, I have no talents that will shake or shift this world into a higher realm of thinking or productivity, let alone improve my intelligence or way of life. I’ve tried, or least I feel I have tried, and I shoot blanks and feel more depressed because each time I try, the results add to my insecurity of feeling more and more like a failure.

      As mentioned earlier, there is no reason for me not to wake up and feel so blessed with my life. So many people have it so much worse than me…100x, 1000x worse…yet that person finds happiness in living, the inner-desire to survive and live each day to the fullest – no matter what crap is thrown at him or her, this person is a true spirit.

      • jen says:

        Sally,
        The life experiences that you described are similar to my own in so many ways EXCEPT I did decide to marry and have kids and it is a chore to enjoy life most of the time even though my kids are FABULOUS. I can relate to your desire to be more intellectual…I want that every single day. I feel guilty for being this depressed and not having found the “meaning of life”, etc. There is no REASON for me to feel the way I do either, but the bottom line is that I still do. I am on meds. and did therapy for several years. How can I still be like this? I have no idea what to get my doctoral degree in. None of my choices seem to be worth it professionally. I’ve always wanted to put PhD after my name on my tombstone, so that’s something, I guess………

    • Maros says:

      Princess, when depression hit me when I was a teen, I tell you, it was the scariest one, bacause you lack experience and get too scared easily. If you’ll be brave and go through it there are very good chances it will never return, or not for a very very long time of happy life. And even if, you’ll be more prepared to battle it.

    • Annalie says:

      Hi Princess, I hope your situation is better now and you have found something to keep your mind elevated beyond despair. Families are wonderful and terrible units, tied by blood and duty to each other. Other people seem to have better families full of love and fun. If you don’t have that then it must be that you doesn’t deserve it, that you are worthless. Please don’t believe that! You are the product of your parents union but you are so much more. You are the latest generation of humanity, from a long, long line of ancestors who worked ceaselessly to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation. You. You can have your own children and pass on your lineage if you choose and if that works out for you.
      Nobody knows what’s going on. Nobody has found all the answers or asked all the questions. Nobody is perfect or close to perfect or on their way to perfect. It’s all an illusion. We’re all humans being human and we’re all making it up as we go along.
      Society is structured to protect and control us. For some this works really well, for others, not so much. Even those in charge of maintaining society have no idea if they are doing it right. Every step is an experiment and a guess.
      Find a place to stand and be quiet or be loud or be angry or peaceful. Whatever. Just carve out enough space around you to be you. Discover yourself, find your strengths, support your weaknesses.

  42. ircurts says:

    For me I came to a realization shortly after getting back on some antidepressants. I am addicted to my depression, well I was before taking steps to break this addiction. Many of the characteristics of addiction were as real with depression as with substances I had become addicted to in the past. Isolation, seeking company of people that validated my depression topped the list.

    I totally get the identifying as a depressed person.

    • stefan says:

      Hi. I am intensively reading on depression now and in my research I have identified the same correlation between addiction and depression.

      I find myself identified with my depression as myself and since I’ve had it for such a long time (undiagnosed) I am reluctant to take the necessary steps to overcome it. I find myself sad having to depart from my companion and I even see it as a necessity to my spiritual discoveries. I train to visualize myself as not having depression and I feel utterly lost there in that world. I say to myself, well that has to be a totally different person living a totally different life altogether.

      It might be the same for an addicted person, especially for someone who’s been at it for a long time. Depression as well as substances have influence on personality, and not only personality but on the outtake on yourself, life and how you relate to other people. Both can really shape your world and who you are.

      So, it is expected for people with long-term depression and people with long-term addiction to experience resistance to treatment and this resistance can be quite similar, especially that both types have built their identities around their conditions. Personally, it has been useful for me to read up on addiction treatment, especially to read about the inner world of an addicted mind. It was enlightening for me and it thought me how my own depression works.

      I am trying CBT self help since me and my therapist never tackled the issue directly. She practices gestalt and I read somewhere that depression is not recognized as such in the system but don’t take my world for it. CBT opens new perspectives for me and I like it because it is focused. Gestalt works wonders with some issues and goes Really really deep. This resolve might or might not contribute to the improvement of depression.

      Wishing everybody good luck in your personal fight with depression.

  43. Amber says:

    Hi John,

    In my case, I think depression actually came first, and my personality developed and is still developing in order to make sure the depression doesn’t kill my body. Actually, in a way I think I am developing several of them, even though they are all me, to spread out the emotional overload and deal with different aspects of the depression. It feels kind of sad when I think about it, but I guess it is, as my therapist would put it, just as it is and neither good nor bad.

    The positive part I think, is that I seem to have much stronger sensory experiences than most people I have met. Sometimes people even tell me that the strongest emotions they have ever had is when experiencing me having a physical sensation, such as touching a surface or eating a cake. I have no idea what it looks like or what kind of energy I emit, and I am not even sure I would like to know. But usually people seem to appreciate it, and call it charming or enchanting, so I guess it cannot be that bad. I know that they probably exaggerates, but it still feels a bit weird.

    Unfortunately, these sensory explosions are both a bliss and a curse, because either they are positive or negative, and I can have both, sometimes even both at the same time, they are so strong I couldn’t possibly ask for more ever again. It feels like I have had my share of experiences for a lifetime a long long time ago, yet I’m not even 30 yet, and the last four years are kind of dimmed due to medication or the sensory overload I guess. Sometimes I only wish for relief in the sense of not having them at all, because just having them tears me apart on daily basis, and I really don’t understand how and why my body hasn’t yet burst into pieces. If people only knew what “living in the moment” or “being completely in the present moment” meant, I don’t think they would ask for it as they do.

    On the other I guess that not having those sensations would make life kind of pointless, now when I have experienced what sensations can be like, and if they were reduced I would probably walk around feeling like somebody had pumped me with sleeping pills and put a blind folder over my eyes, so either way I see no way out. I never thought I would survive my 25th birthday, since I figured my body or mind or both would burst under the constant pressure, but apparently I did. Unfortunately I have a really hard time feeling thankful for it. The more I struggle to keep myself sound and healthy, the more it feels like I am putting myself up for a lifetime of misery, something I would never be able to do to somebody else. And yet, nothing is really the matter, but it still feels like the sheer existence is to much for me to bear, and I don’t understand how I can possibly take yet another day in all its meaninglessness.

    Amber

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Amber –

      You’re describing a condition much different from anything I’ve experienced – except in a momentary way. The pressure of these extremes must be incredible. I think of the intensification of sensory experience in trances or drug-induced states. It’s hard to imagine as an everyday occurrence, and I get how explosive that could be. It reminds me of a line by George Eliot that I read in college, about how impossible life would be if you could hear the grass growing.

      I’m sorry this way of living is such misery for you, but I hope and hope that you can stay with it to find a way to reduce the intensity of the extremes without simply being drugged into a stupor. Most of the psychotropic drugs either deaden or stimulate the brain – perhaps that works for some problems but it’s doesn’t help much with chronic conditions that you live with all the time.

      Stay with us! — John

    • stefan says:

      Hi Amber. What you described sounds to me like a person going trough some-kind of awakening or an enlightenment experience, especially because you are describing it trough the present moment. Depression usually has to do with the past event or a future anxiety. You know your condition best, but maybe you could benefit from talking to a reiki or kundalini person, especially if you don’t benefit from traditional therapy.

      Best of luck

  44. Risa says:

    Severe clinical depression (when it was actually diagnosed) has consumed my life since 2003. It took over my entire life, emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally. I have always been a strong, useful, purposeful individual who allowed no challenges to get in the way, regardless how difficult or awful they were – I managed (and believe me, I’ve been through my share of TERRIBLE experiences on this journey). But for whatever reason, I let myself down and have not yet been able to find a way out of this awful darkness. It is all-consuming, overwhelming and has scared me to the point where I totally do not recognize myself at all. I have chosen to isolate, become blocked, self-loathe and everything else you are aware of that accompanies this syndrome. Yes I have gone the gamut of all western modalities and they almost killed me. I attempted many alternatives as well, however my finances at this stage only permit so much. I am well aware that only WE can help ourselves, however, I’m tired and lost and simply no longer know what to do. I would be so very grateful for any advice anyone has to offer as I cannot take much more. My wish is simply to be purposeful once again; know what it is to feel joy — be of service, help others (people and beloved animals) and ‘fulfill whatever purpose it is I was sent her to do’. Certainly it could not have been to wallow in misery and repetitive cycles day in and out. Blessings to all of you and much love and light. Thank you for listening. I have no one to turn to for support.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hello, Risa –

      Please don’t blame yourself for being unable to bring such a severe episode of depression to an end. You have not let yourself down and you are not “wallowing” in misery. I agree in part that we need to help ourselves, but no one can get out of such a deep depression unaided. It is up to us to recognize the problem and commit to treatment, and you’ve obviously done that. But you do need help. I don’t know which types of treatment you have had such a bad experience with. There are lots of people who have had terrible reactions to medications and have been overloaded with too many prescriptions. Going through one type of medical treatment after another without success is terribly discouraging. Isolating won’t help at this point – it’s probably the worst thing you can do when you feel this despairing. If you should start to feel suicidal and have no other recourse I would definitely try a hotline. They can usually help not only with immediate counseling but also with locating other sources of help. My blogging buddy Merely Me at Health Central has a good post for those with limited funds and no insurance. Given the direction of the depressive thinking you describe and your hope to restore a sense of purpose, I think some form of therapy or counseling would be especially helpful. The problem is always finding someone you feel comfortable with – and money is always an issue. It may be small comfort at a time like this, but I’ve been where you are at several points in my life. Only now in my 60s have I been able to break the cycle of depression and get a life back without the fear of falling into that black hole once again. Please hang in there. – And feel free to get in touch anytime.

      John

    • Maros says:

      Hi Risa. I am in similar state. Don’t ever lose hope. Watch out of that moment, even if brief, when you are able to calm down and think. Depression is a process that puzzles us, but if we understand it, we are stronger to overcome it or come to terms with it. The illness caused me similar troubles – difficulty to work, focus, feel any reward, be at least remotely happy. I avoid social contact, because everytime i try to live normal life, it throws me back. And I totally relate to feeling – not recognizing myself at all.
      I know this is extremely difficult, but try to listen to your body. You’re depression tells you you’re exhausted. You need to find meaningful and joyful activites. Truth is, you will still feel crappy to some point, but your brain is going to ‘activate’ for the better. Don’t adopt a pet right away, but go and volunteer for an animal shelter. Or find a hobby. It doesn’t have to be a sudden life-changing activity, but you need to lose the self-loathing. You like animals, you feel for the weak, you must be wonderful person with tons of sweet emotion. You need to find something that’s bigger than you. Trust me. There is hope.

  45. Leah says:

    I relate to when you talk about learning about being medication resistant. I am now looking into ECT or TMS, but they tell me I am too young. I say I am too young to be letting so much precious time go by.

    Yes, Depression has consumed me.

    Thank you for letting me share.

    • John Folk-Williams says:

      Hi, Leah –

      There are different definitions of treatment resistance, but they’re usually based on medication use, I believe, rather than the many therapies you can try. If you only consider the drugs, it takes quite a while get through the different classes of antidepressants – alone and in combination with other meds – before reaching the conclusion that none of them work and that you’re treatment resistant. I’d try everything I could before going on to ECT. I’ve always been leery of that because of the effects on memory, thinking and speech that friends of mine have suffered through. And it didn’t help them. However, it’s been a life-saver for many people too. I believe they have found a way to predict whether ECT is likely to succeed or fail in an individual – I’ll need to search back to find the studies on that. TMS, on the other hand, shouldn’t be a problem – it’s not so invasive as ECT and I haven’t heard of any bad side effects.

      I wish you the best in finding an effective way to treat your depression.

      John

    • Maros says:

      My doc mentioned ECT, but docs often use it as last resort. If you are young, maybe you should try a couple of meds – it takes a while to find the right ones, but then it’s worth it. I was put on paxil in my 19 and back then it literrally lit a big bulb in my brain. It was such a relief. Explore your options, and most importantly hang in there. There are zillions of options you haven’t tried yet.

  46. bipolartude says:

    Meredith,

    Such a great post, summarizing Karp’s work. Thanks for that. I can identify with Karp’s stages, but really couldn’t articulate for myself. I also can see where I’m going, a kind of road map for what lies ahead. What struck me was his letting go of expectations. (“I must be happy,” for instance.)

    In answer to your questions:
    I used to not think of depression as an impact over a long period of time. My therapist and I thought it was “situational,” based on recent trauma.

    There’s been a great shift in only these past two weeks of what depression means to me. It’s now a depressive-cycle of a mental illness. (I have no issue with that designation, although my family does.)

    I think of depression now as a a permanent half of a mental illness/mood disorder/condition. It’s as if depression is like someone I know better than this new mania dude who has come to visit- no, that’s not right. He’s moved in. Depression is familiar at least; this new guy bites. Although, when he’s behaving, my house becomes the cleanest it’s been in years.

    In fact, my mother needs to visit
    right.
    now.

    cheers,
    jt

    • John says:

      Hi, jt –

      Karp’s book – and the personal stories it contains – keep giving me new insights. I’m glad you find this summary helpful – but I can’t do justice to his work here. It’s a keeper book, if you can get hold of it.

      I agree with your new understanding of depression and the cycle it’s a part of. The situational explanation was never much help to me, and I couldn’t make much progress until I looked at depression as a much more complicated invader. I resist thinking of it as a permanent part of my life. Recovery and life feel great now and have for a few years. I think I have the tools and beliefs to stay healthy. (Knocking hard on my 2 inch pine desk!)

      By the way, who’s Meredith?

      John

  47. EratHora says:

    I can definitely relate to that. For me, I am most currently in a place of recognizing how many things I lost out on because of my depression. That overly-self-critical voice that prevented me from taking normal risks, experiencing normal social changes. And the big things–like finishing school. Even though I know how very common it is to seek help for years before getting a proper diagnosis and treatment, I feel a lot of anger and resentment about those years. It is hard to reconcile it all together.

    • John says:

      Hi, EratHora –

      Hopefully, you’ll be able to work with some form of treatment and your own self-help methods get to a better place in dealing with depression. After a lifetime of living with this illness, and even though now I’m in great shape, there is always a sense of what I’ve lost. I don’t feel resentful about that – instead I often feel grief, and regret. Those are past times, though, and whatever I may have lost – and I can’t really know how differently things might have worked out – I’m more focused on right now, when I am restored. I really hope you can get to a place like that and avoid assuming that it will never happen.

      John

  48. Kelly says:

    So much of this resounded with me.

    Because I’ve had depression since such a young age, I definitely feel like depression is central to my identity. I think the proportion of time in one’s life spent with it as opposed to without it might have something to do with a person’s thoughts regarding depression and identity. I still feel like a depressed person as a whole because of the significant impact depression has had on my ability to develop social skills and relationships, as well as experience regular life events.

    I look back on high school and college and while other people have friends, boyfriends, and photos to chronicle their time, I have loneliness. I have an absence of these same things that are part of the average human experience. Whenever I do go through a phase where I begin to have these normal things like friendship, I am always waiting for the day things change and I go back to being alone.

    For me, being depressed and alone is normal. Depression is how I know how to feel, how to operate in response to the world. I used to have hope of experiencing life in a regular way, that I could one day become a person with friends and relationships. But now I know that, overall, my days will be spent in darkness.

    • John says:

      Hi, Kelly –

      Please don’t give up on yourself. There really is a you separate from the depression identity. And remember that expectation is a powerful force – the illness turns your mind and feelings around to accept the inevitability of staying depressed forever. If you believe that, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You haven’t mentioned if you’ve had any treatment or worked with self-help tools. I often waited to feel better – and most episodes of depression do wind down on their own – but that sort of improvement is only temporary if you haven’t also been trying one or more of the many therapies, including medication, that are available. Treatments often don’t work, so you have to stay with it and keep trying different approaches. I went through dozens of attempts using psychotherapy, medication, exercise, mindfulness meditation and a lot more – it took years for all that to have an effect. But the key thing was that I came to see I couldn’t rely only on expert help. Once I had the feeling that I had to take charge of my own healing, everything seemed to become more effective. I guess that’s why I put a lot of emphasis on holding onto a belief in the possibility of recovering.

      My best to you — John

  49. Gaye says:

    Hello,

    I can happily say that I feel mostly well, most of the time, BUT, I am well aware that depression lurks very close to the surface. I know I must take appropriate care of myself. I haven’t had an unmanageable episode for about 18 months – just falling in a heap every now and then for some reason or another, or for no reason at all. Mostly I can deal with these incidents on my own, and am back to a reasonably level state in a couple of days time. Therapy no longer helps me – I haven’t been for about 3 years. I am still medicated. I feel positive about my future, and for the first time in my life, have some friends. But I still often feel isolated, alone, and like some sort of a misfit.

    Thank you for your website.

    Kind regards,
    Gaye

    • John says:

      Hi Gaye –

      Congratulations on staying well for 18 months! What’s especially impressive is your ability to manage those collapses and keep them brief. Bouncing back, I think, is the heart of a recovery process. It never goes smoothly and it’s so easy to walk through a self-fulfilling prophecy of thinking it’s only a matter of time before I get lost in depression again. Changing that expectation took me a long, long time.

      Thanks for letting us know how you’re doing. I’m sure you’ll keep getting better at heading off the bad spells. Hang in there – we’re all in it for the long haul.

      My best –

      John

By clicking

*