There is a strong history of depression in our family. I most likely had it as a child and worked around it for years until I had a child at 33 and experienced serious post natal depression which was diagnosed when my boy was 8 months and I was place on anti depressants. One of the reasons I did not have another child was because I was told that I had a high risk of experiencing post partum psychosis and I was not prepared to go down that track. I did not feel I had it in me to make the journey back. Sometimes I regret that decision, but mostly I accept it as the one right for me.
Depression has a lot of media coverage and this is a good thing. However, unless you have been down that track or had someone close to you experience depression I do not think you can appreciate how difficult it is to live with.
There are different types of depression of course, so I can only speak from my own experience which is having had a major depressive episode and also chronic depression. It is not something that goes away, it is something I manage. It is never far away and whilst I am not on medication, and have not been for almost three years, I work at it pretty much all the time.
It is not always about feeling sad. It can be like being an outsider to the world, being a third person, feeling flat, having severe anxiety, being unable to get out of bed, being unable to have a shower, go out the front door etc. Crying at the drop of a hat, misinterpreting what people say or mean, feeling over sensitive to people, noise or even wind. Panic attacks. Confusion. Feelings of low self worth. Anger, irritability, hostility and impatience. The only way I could possibly describe it it to compare it to the worst possible PMT only 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year.
I have been on all sorts of medication. They do help initially. The idea of going on anti-depressants is to give your brain a break from the way it has learnt to process information. The analogy I was once given was to imagine a herd of cows going to have a drink of water each day. They go the same way, day in and day out and leave a deep groove in the grass on the way to the water. One day someone puts a fence in front of the groove and the cows have to find a new way to get to the water source. That is the problem of the mind. It gets in a groove that is not always good and needs help getting out. But once it is out of the groove, you have to make sure it does not fall back in.
Advice like "pull your socks up", "be grateful for what you have", "what have you got to be depressed about", "it's all in your head"(Duh!), "you are selfish" just don't cut it. Depression is not always a choice and you really do see the world in a different light.
When I first went on anti-depressants the effect was almost immediate - that is, within a week I felt this enormous weight lifted off my shoulders. I looked around at my surroundings and realised that this feeling must be what a normal person feels like. It was almost surreal. I was able to do things without confusion. I was able to get out of bed, have a shower, put on my make up, eat breakfast and do things quite smoothly.
Of course, I had to change the habits of a life time, I had to teach my brain how to think differently, learn how to react to situations and, most importantly, I had to eventually learn to accept my limitations.
Here is how I manage depression.