Monday, May 07, 2007

managing depression

In my last post I wrote about the insight I got from others, including some therapists, that we can "honor" depression. Comments to that post as well as further thinking on my own helped me realize that there has to be balance in all of this. There are different kinds of depressions, some life-threatening. Some depression can be managed with medication. Others can be helped with therapy, healthy self-talk, and positive changes in one's life style, attitudes, and diet. Some of the greatest authors and poets were severely depressed. Some of us can write fairly profound material during depression. Others can hardly get out of bed, let alone think about writing anything.

I manage my depression with medication which I have taken for 15 years. If I decrease my medication or try to go off it cold-turkey, the depression worsens. I am not able to think clearly. Thoughts of worthlessness get so bad that it is painful for me and I am hardly able to function. I am able to do very little work. I simply feel terrible and feel like I am a worthless person.

I have also been helped by good sessions with therapists and by reading books about depression. All my life I have tried to keep the "bad" feelings away by doing things which crowd them out. I am an adrenaline junkie, in the words of one of my friends. I binge on work and hobby projects that keep the "happy" feelings going for a good amount of time. But then when my body tires and I must stop my binging, the bad feelings return even worse than if I had not been binging. Adrenaline crashes are unpleasant.

So I have been trying to live on a more even keel, avoiding the ups of adrenaline highs and depression avoidance. I am pacing myself better in my work. The anger management work I did with my therapist last fall continues to help me.

I am learning to take more pleasure in the ordinary things of life, discovering that what may seem ordinary really is often extra-ordinary if I relax and spend some time with it, such as enjoying a flower, or a piece of music, or playing with my grandchildren.

Is my depression all gone because of my consistency in taking my medication and living with new behavior pattens and attitudes? No. But it is manageable. It doesn't overpower me as it would have in the past. Life is almost normal for me, or at least as normal as it can be when we can longterm underlying depression. And I can enjoy much of life, I can smile and have fun. others.

Your experience may be different. My hope for each of us who suffer from depression is that we can find some joys in life which can balance out the uncomfortable or overwhelming feelings that come from depression.


Blogger Henry John said...

I know too the struggles of longterm depression and the blessings of medication to change brain chemistry. I feel joy that you are finding balance. It is what I believe we all hope for and worthy of rejoicing.

3:36 AM  

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