Hope Despair
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My Depression

My doctor has me on the lowest possible dose of anti-depressant so the side-effects are not too bad. I always forget about the side-effects yet they are always what make me go off medication for my depression. That and the fact I think I don’t need them any more.

The crisis that drove me to the doctor this time has passed and I feel fine now but I’m determined to stick with it. The change in me surprised the doctor today and I think she has changed her diagnosis a little.

My depression is not a simple thing. Some depression is simple. It has a clear, treatable, cause. Hormonal swings can create an imbalance of the chemicals in the brain that can be cured by a course of anti-depressants for example. It is not at all uncommon for people to suffer from depression when someone they love dies or their marriage breaks down either. Once the person makes the adjustment to life without their loved one the depression usually passes. It will pass without treatment in most cases but it will pass even faster if they do get counselling.

Other kinds of depression are not quite so clear cut. If the person lost someone they just cannot, or will not, adjust to living without their depression may not pass. It may become entrenched and, if it goes on long enough, it can alter the chemicals and pathways in the brain making it even less likely the person will be able to recover without treatment for both the chemical changes and the depressive thinking.

Depression shows itself in a recognisable, diagnosable, set of symptoms and among those symptoms are depressive thoughts. “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” and other things along those lines are depressive thoughts. For some people that kind of thinking is so entrenched it will not be possible to cure their depression with medication alone. They will need therapy to address the depressive thinking.

I’m not up on the very latest theories about depression so I don’t know if they have done any studies into my own theory, that depression can be learned, or not.

My depression began a very long time ago. They used to think children could not suffer from depression but I gather they are not so sure of that now. I made my first suicide attempt at about age ten but I was unhappy long before that. My mother told me I talked about wanting to be dead from the age of seven.

The origins of my depression are, in my opinion, not entirely clear. I was about two or maybe three the first time I was sexually interfered with and childhood abuse is a known cause of depression. There were other things wrong in the way I was raised that were also abusive and could also have caused me to be depressed.

My feeling is, however, that one of the most important factors in the development of my depression was my mother’s own, untreated, depression. I think I learned to be depressed by living in a sole parent home with a severely depressed parent.

My mother did not trust life and she was very pessimistic about what to expect from it and from other people. She was very much into self-blame and did her best to teach her children that we were, at least partially, responsible for anything bad that happened to us. Other people would not harm us, she said, if we did not make them. I absorbed her depressive thoughts and beliefs and I think that contributed hugely to the long-term picture of my depression.

As far as I know none of my brothers or sisters was ever diagnosed with depression but they certainly have the same depressive thoughts and beliefs about life and people as I do. I suspect, if a thorough case history was taken from each of them, it would show they have all suffered at least one bout with depression somewhere along the line and that their lives are not as happy now as they would be without those depressive thoughts and beliefs.

I was trained to think in depressive ways and subjected to abuse that confirmed and added to those depressive thoughts and beliefs. All the years of living with these depressive thoughts and beliefs would, I believe, have created chemical imbalances in my brain making my depression even more resistant to my attempts to overcome it.

The first time I was actually diagnosed with depression was when I was about 25. I went onto anti-depressants for about one or two months and I was amazed! It felt like a curtain had been lifted allowing me to get a glimpse of what life was like for other people. I stopped taking the medication but, when the curtain came back down over me, I knew it was not real – it was depression. Knowing that made it easier to cope.

When I was 32 I began my studies at university. Over the next few years I learned about depression and how to treat it so I began treating myself. I worked on the thoughts and beliefs and I was able to change some and control others.

In time I became less and less vulnerable to falling apart at the seams but, any time something bad happened or I thought something bad was going to happen, I would be completely overwhelmed by depression.

I had two more attempts to treat my depression with medication but, both times, the side effects caused me to quit treatment as soon as the crisis had passed and I was feeling better.

This time I am sick of having times when everything falls apart and I am not able to cope with life. I want to see if I can sort this out once and for all so I am not going to stop treatment until I am given the all clear from both my GP and my counsellor. Studies show that medication works and counselling works but the two combined work best of all.

I’m feeling just fine now and I want it to stay that way not disappear in the blink of an eye as soon as something triggers a crisis in me.

The side effects of medication can be really awful. I have had gagging, nausea, stomach cramps, bloating, restless leg syndrome, disruptions to my sleep and more.

Getting treatment is tedious. Fitting appointments with a doctor and a therapist into my life is time consuming and it can also be expensive. It’s annoying to have to try and remember to take the medication at the same time each day but I’m tired of depression. I’m ready to pay whatever price I have to pay to get rid of it once and for all.

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