Friday, April 1, 2016

Depression Revisited

Depression is one of those things that's talked about frequently, but I feel like most of what I've read about it is from an outside perspective.  I've had family members and friends have it, but they always treated it like it was something not to be talked about.  And maybe for them, it was, and that's completely valid.  But for me, I feel like I'm lying by not talking about it, by not acknowledging it.

Last year was tough.  You're welcome to read my year in review post, which will give some context.  In short, a large percentage of my family was majorly ill and work stopped rewarding and recognizing my hard work.  I've been through tough times before, but this time it was extra triggering.  My family has always been largely healthy, and while I'm good with coping with crises, it does take a toll.  But what was harder was that I felt work had declared me incompetent.  They had been so complimentary and then suddenly they turned around gave me shitty assignments and no explanations.  It shook my confidence completely.

I've struggled with self-esteem before, but never in the way of believing that I was incompetent professionally.  And once I began to question that, I started to destroy myself with my doubt.  And so, as the work problems piled up, one after another, I sank further and further into depression. While I've read many descriptions of depression, my favorite being Hyperbole and a Half's which resonated with me, even before I got depressed, but none of them made it so I truly got it.  I don't think anyone who's never been clinically depressed can really get it, though they certainly can be empathetic without that.

It's not overwhelming sadness, which was an image that persistent, even after reading countless accounts detailing that wasn't what depression was.  Hopelessness and despair come the closest to describing it emotionally.  The image that stuck with me on my worst days was just standing among the utter wreckage of my life.  People did love me.  People did think I was competent.  But unless they explicitly said that to me, I didn't believe it.  Couldn't believe it  Even when they said it explicitly, my belief in the truth of their assertion was dubious.  I was incapable of believe that I was worth anything: worth anyone's time, love, effort.  I still am some days.  And that is just incredibly hard.

Going through this has made it so much easier for me to empathize and understand other people suffering from depression.  And it's just not a rational thing.  Some days I'll fail at something, more often minor than major, and it'll trigger my depression (luckily for me, just for a day or so, and sometimes, blessedly, less).  But some days I'll just wake up not feeling myself.  Not feeling much of anything aside from that I'm a failure.

So what do I do?  Anti-depressants nearly destroyed me in an entirely different way.  Everyone I've talked to says that it takes awhile to find the correct dosage and drug, but if the side effects and/or withdrawal symptoms are even half that severe, I can't subject myself to that again.  The side effects and withdrawal symptoms were the most unpleasant things I have ever experienced.  I should have talked to my doctor when things got that bad, but I wasn't even capable of picking up the phone some days, let alone going into the clinic.

The point?  I guess to just share my experience, but also to ask everyone reading this to pay attention to your friends, especially ones you think might be majorly depressed.  I guarantee no one realized I was as bad as I was.  And I was asking for helping.  I was talking about it as much as I could so that someone would just come over and sit with me.  But not explicitly and not as well as I would have had I been feeling myself in the first place.  And when you're already bad at asking for help, it becomes so much harder with depression.

Note: It's interesting reading my first post on depression, which was when the extremely low dosage (5mg) of the anti-depressant was actually working.  Though even that level of dose was tough to adjust to.  I desperately wish my doctor hadn't decided to up my dosage to 10mg. But what's past is past.

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