First I would like to point out it isn’t always easy to find effective depression medication or even at all. It can be complex and not responsive to medication. Depression in some cases can be far more severe than mine and much more difficult to treat. In my case, I cannot take antidepressants because I am sensitive to them which leads to suicidal thoughts and actions… which is sort of counterproductive really.
But when you do find effective medication it is pretty amazing really. I can literally tell when I would usually be in a major dive and I am just Not. It takes away the deep dives. Which are certainly the most frightening aspect of this depression. Deep dives are when I do have suicidal thoughts. Not to mention a lot less suicidal ideation, period. Coming from someone with chronic pain that is a major boon. High pain would plummet my mood and spike suicidal ideation. One would think the depression was directly pain related, but it was more a trigger. I was told it was Major Depressive Disorder that they had initially thought of as depression associated with chronic illness. And I was saturated in the depression and until I had the medication I had no idea just how much it was actually affecting me. Like I said, I can tell when I encounter a certain stressor that I am not reacting the way I would normally. No massive slippery slope reasoning into a pit of despair. No plummets into that deep dark hole, that just happen really but certainly happened in high pain bouts. Ironically, I rather think this is a normal response to pain all the time. But apparently not. Literally, for years I said to myself it was perfectly normal to feel the way I was because of the pain… I mean, who wouldn’t?
So if my depression was like the ocean with high waves, this steadies the ocean. Not being overwhelmed by rogue waves, yes, but the ocean isn’t placid either.
Basically, it evened me out, like it is designed to do and for that I find it fundamentally pretty amazing. All the power to it for tweaking that brain chemistry. Much prefer this state of mind. But the depression remains in a sort of milder state. You still have a lot of symptoms of it and thoughts linger because those thought patterns are pretty habitual. At least they are for me, who has been pretty much existing in this state without medication for quite some time. The contrast, yes, is startling. Like night and day. But there remains just a lingering depression that isn’t as overwhelming or as staggering but muffling things. And if that is what I deal with, I consider myself lucky. I never have been the glass is half full type of person anyway. And I am chronically ill, so there is a reasonable amount of sucky I expect.
My psychologist says the medication is doing the job it is supposed to and the rest is up to me. In the sense that I need to do all the things to boost my mood, monitor my thoughts and motivate myself. Which a lot of is a monumental task with chronic illness. I’m so fatigued from the moment I manage to crawl out of bed. So much pain which then fluctuates massively depending on what I do. Yet, certain things are easier than others. I do a gratitude journal. I do a journal of my day. I try to do cognitive thought control when I find I am catastrophizing, for example. Things I struggle with: sleep, socializing and exercise. Chronic illness always makes managing mood a challenge. Always will. But it is something we have to put some equal effort into. It is an important factor of our wellbeing. Of our very capacity to cope.