Depression is a deep dark hell I existed in for ten years without treatment and made significantly worse by antidepressants (I am sensitive to them). I am effectively treated with Abilify. Once you are out of the hole it is hard to talk about it but I did learn some things. And it is hard to say what you learn from that darkness that consumed you. I just wish I thought it could end eventually… but I had no hope for that. And I denied it for a very long time. Denied it was a problem. But it really, really was.
I learned our thoughts affect our emotions
That these repetitive negative thoughts I was consumed with affected my mood. My self-talk was cruel, man, just so cruel. I would never say to anyone what I say to myself. And it takes away hope too because of course, you don’t allow yourself to be hopeful not when everything sucks. It takes time to become aware of that self-talk and turn it around to something more rational. Because depression distorts thoughts. Because your thoughts are often true… but the darkest, cruellest, ugliest version of the truth. Magnified truth.
I learned our emotions affect our body
I learned depression makes you so fatigued and adds to the pain you already have. Chronic pain is hard enough to cope with without depression adding to it and obliterating your coping strategies. You are sort of just hanging on day by day in survival mode. And that isn’t meant to be lived in.
I learned depression killed my motivation
Depression made everything in life so much harder to do. And I would give up. Like when my insurance company took me off long-term for some made up bull I was devastated with the depression and the pain… but I didn’t fight. I felt I cannot win. They just all want me to suffer. So I gave in. And you’d miss work because you literally couldn’t get out of bed. You decide nothing because you don’t want to think about choices and options. And I had no motivation to change that. Life is hard to live like that. Progress isn’t made and then that is compounded by horrific guilt you didn’t make that chose or do that thing.
I learned depression destroyed my ability to cope with chronic pain
I couldn’t cope at all anymore. Hell, my brain was telling me I should just lay down and die because coping with this pain is impossible. Pain seemed completely, fundamentally, impossible to deal with on any level. Because suffering was just magnified so much. I thought it was madness to exist like that. And, I wasn’t wrong, it is madness to have no pain treatment and work a full-time job that exceeds your limits and increases your pain until you just think death sounds wonderful. Without depression you know pain will exist, but you engage in things to decrease suffering. And you make the compromises you have to so you are not exceeding your limits.
I learned I hated myself
I learned I really hated myself due to my chronic illnesses. I felt I had no worth at all and was fundamentally useless. And I developed and still have a low self-worth as a result. And learning the develop a healthy sense of self and worth is a hefty task. It is the chronic pain and the limitations with the depression compounding it. You feel like nothing. Like a failure; I mean personally not that I just couldn’t do something but that I was personally a failure at all things and life itself. And you have to rebuild yourself after a bout of depression and have a psychologist help you reframe yourself and see yourself as more than just worthless. And it takes a lot of time. So slow but eventually you get shimmers of your sense of self again. And build on it.
I learned suicidal thoughts and actions can be entirely separate from depression, but they certainly also go together
I had suicidal ideation and my first attempt before I was depressed. The chronic pain, you see, makes the mind think about some sort of end to it. And when we have no hope in any change our mind turns to thoughts and speculation about death- because the pain would be gone. And suicidal ideation in chronic pain is very common. Suicidal intent and actions less common but still a risk factor, especially without proper treatment. And you see after I had my attempt my doctor didn’t help with my pain, I still had to push through work… nothing changed. And my hope, it just died, hard. For a bit I was numb and just doing what everyone wanted me to. Just giving up. And then came the depression. And more suicidal ideation and another attempt before proper pain and depression treatment. I needed both pain treatment and depression treatment, just one or the other would not have worked. I needed to attack it on both angles.
I learned how fragile life is
I had my first attempt. And this made me more at risk for more Suicidal intent and actions. And I felt like I Knew how easy it was to cross from thought to action. Too easy. And that is when I began to see psychologists. I was afraid of myself. A night with extreme pain and work the next day always triggered me. And I was a whim away every time from action. And I did have another attempt, and it was spontaneous. I don’t even know the trigger. I just remember I did what my psychologist said and called 911. It scares me that I know how easy it is. I feel so much better. But one day… maybe I won’t anymore. And I won’t notice right away and I will slip under once more.
Most importantly I learned I needed help
I needed to see a psychologist and those that specialize in illness and pain. I needed to take medication but not the ones that made me so much worse. I just needed to work it out with someone who could show me my distorted thoughts. Make me see my low self-worth. And treat me with medication because therapy wasn’t quite enough for me.
Remember our mental health is just as vital as our physical health.