There are several types of depression and I seem to be vulnerable to all of them. The different types of depression have a range of factors and names but I prefer to categorise depression by cause rather than symptoms.
There are, in my opinion, three fundamental causes of depression and these are physical, cognitive and situational.
Physical depression is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. It requires medication.
Cognitive depression comes from habitually thinking in a negative and pessimistic way about pretty much everything. It requires therapy.
Situational depression comes to almost everyone when something bad happens. It usually passes without treatment.
The three types of depression can, however, be intertwined and I have met people whose situational depression went on for so long they developed the chemical imbalance which fed the negative and pessimistic thoughts and the whole thing went on for years.
Chemical imbalances in the brain can actually rewire the brain so that negative, pessimistic thinking remains with the person even after the imbalance has been corrected.
The best way to treat depression, therefore, is to medicate the chemical imbalances and apply therapy to negative and pessimistic thought patterns which is why a combination of medication and therapy is usually recommended.
I had that combination of treatments and it worked. My depression lifted and I have been doing well but, recently, a few bad things happened and situational depression hit me.
It was a real shock to see how fast the negative thoughts returned and how strongly the illness tried to make a come-back the instant my defences went down!
I had been on antidepressants for about a year when my kids and I decided to pool our resources and rent a nice house. In all the upheaval of moving I let my prescription run out and went off my medication.
Pretty stupid of me really given that I know moving house is high on the list of things that cause stress in people and stress can lead to depression.
Anyway, bad things happened during and after the move.
I moved boxes I should never have tried to carry and basically I strained and exhausted myself physically. That left me too worn out to wash the walls in my old apartment so they charged me most of my bond money to clean the smoke off them for me.
The new house has an obscenely steep and angled driveway which I have damaged my car trying to negotiate so now the car needs clutch repairs and a bunch of dents fixed. I am still 1700 dollars in debt for the new brakes, radiator and so on I just had done so it was hard to cope with seeing the car deteriorate so fast.
I battled the negative thoughts and the feeling of depression for a little while and got on top of it but I went back to the doctor to see if I should go back on the medication. She said it sounded as if I was doing ok and cleared me to stay off the pills.
I shook off the depression by fighting negative thoughts instead of fighting the bond charges. I reminded myself that I did cover the walls with smoke and I should have washed them myself if I wanted all my bond back. I told myself I will stop damaging my car once I get used to the driveway and I can fix the car up then.
I coped but I had to work at it.
Then I hit another car in a car park and tried to walk away without leaving my contact details. I told myself it was only a little scratch and I don’t have insurance so let their insurance pay for it. Even as I walked away I knew I was in trouble. There were two witnesses and, sure enough, I heard the owner being called to her car about 20 minutes later. I was pretty sure I had been dobbed in so I went back to face the music.
The owner of the car was with a carpark security guard so I went up to them and gave them my contact details. First thing next morning her insurance company called to tell me they will be sending me the bill.
Now, if I had not been the villain of this tale, I would have been thinking how wonderful it was that the witnesses were willing to get involved and see a stranger get justice. I am, in fact, trying to see it that way now but it was a different story at the time.
As I handed over my contact details I could feel depression closing in around me. It felt like my world was ending and nothing would ever be any good again.
It didn’t matter that I was in the wrong, that I deserved to be in trouble, all that mattered was my life had gone to shit yet again.
As I stood there I was seeing a future that held a massive debt for repairs, police charges, total ruination and an endless procession of bad things happening to me.
I was a rag doll in the hands of a malevolent fate and everyone was out to get me. The witnesses hated me and that was why they dobbed me in. The owner was rich, young, beautiful, expensively dressed and driving an expensive, insured, car. She had more than her fair share of what life has to offer already but now it felt as if life was going to give her what pathetically little I have as well.
It seemed so unfair. Nobody ever dobbed on people who hit me in car parks. Nobody ever had to pay for damage they did to me or my possessions. Everyone else gets away with carpark damage except me and why on earth was I wasting my time here on this earth when it was really not worth living anyway.
The disintegration was immediate and complete. It didn’t fade or weaken and it went on for days. The physical sensation of being under a massive, crushing, weight engulfed me every time I thought of what had happened and the negative, pessimistic thoughts would start up as soon as the sensation struck.
I hated the witnesses, the owner of the car I hit, the security guard, her insurance company, life and the whole world for picking on me.
I knew the thoughts and feelings were inaccurate so I fought them off but they came back every time I remembered what had happened.
In the end I had to sit myself down and remember every time I have ever hit another car, run a stoplight, gone over the speed limit, driven while drunk, turned or stopped without warning, veered onto the wrong side of the road when distracted, driven while drowsy and generally risked life, limb and bank account since the day I got my license over 30 years ago.
It didn’t take long to realise I have gotten away with thousands of dollars worth of fines not to mention all the accidents I could have had but didn’t and the lives that could have been injured or lost but weren’t.
I have done wrong and gotten away with it many more times than I have ever been caught or had to pay for it so my sense that life was being unfair was a big fat load of codswallop!
I told myself this was a wake up call and I need to be more careful when I drive because having no insurance does not mean you don’t have to pay! Choosing not to insure means choosing to pay if something like this happens. I told myself I have saved over three thousand by not being insured for the past three years so if the other car costs less than 3 grand to repair I will still have saved money.
It did the trick and the depression went away but I am still in shock over how fast, and how completely, it grabbed hold of me again.
Anyone would have felt depressed over the thought of having to pay for repairs to a car they damaged but most people would shake it off pretty quick if they were in the wrong as I was.
It looks like I will have to be on guard and ready to do battle with my depression when anything bad happens for the rest of my life.