Over the last few weeks, I have been catching up on my Google Reader. As I’ve skimmed and soaked in 1000+ blog posts over the last 3 months, I’ve found a common theme: depression. I read posts on Mormon Women Project, Blog Segullah, Mormon Mommy Blogs, FMH, Melancholy Smile, and other sites I love. I felt like these authors were speaking my language. Depression is my disease.
According to the DSM-IV, the following symptoms may occur with depression:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). (In children and adolescents, this may be characterized as an irritable mood.)
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5 of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with feelings of worthlessness, sadness, inadequacy, and poor self image. I had an extremely hard time making friends as a child, preferring to spend time alone rather than try to fit in. In 1992, the song “Creep” by Radiohead was released. I felt the lyrics so passionately:
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice
when I’m not around
You’re so very* special
I wish I was special
But I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell am I doin’ here?
I don’t belong here
I have struggled with diagnosed clinical depression since I was 16. I have always been an emotional and empathetic person. I am a moral perfectionist, always wanting to the right thing and to singlehandedly solve the world’s problems. I feel others’ pain and sadness. Even when my circumstances aren’t dire, I tend to feel so deeply of others’ struggles that I felt drained of my happiness. Sometimes my depressive episodes are are more cataclysmic than others, but usually I am able to function.
My first depressive episode spawned from qualifying for the state drama meet my sophomore year of HS, but having my drama teacher tell me that I couldn’t go. The principal wanted to limit attendees to one bus. It made me cry uncontrollably to the point I had to go home from school. And then I cried for the better part of a month, feeling so out of control. I met with my doctor, who said that my emotional state was more than an “episodic depression,” it was clinical depression.
Then throw in the times that I was depressed while pregnant, depressed post-partum, depressed when my ex-husband abused me for 4 years, depressed after my divorce, etc. Last summer the depression was so bad that I lost my job because I couldn’t function at work. I spent two months in bed, trying to overcome the dark void that I perceived my life to be. Then I got a new counselor, got on the right meds, made small attainable goals, and pulled myself out slowly. I still struggle everyday, but I’ve learned some wonderful coping mechanisms for getting by on a day-to-day basis.
Other than pills and counseling, my greatest relief comes from spending time with friends and loved ones. When I’m alone, I get down on myself. When I’m with others, I feel like I’ve got the whole world to give away to others. I treat myself to “happy-cations” where I plan out activities for myself where bad thoughts are not allowed. Whether it be time with a BFF, snuggling up with a good book in a quiet house, or treating myself to a cupcake with a neighbor, my “happy-cations” make such a big difference.
I’m grateful that others are willing to put out their depression struggles and stories in their blogs. It seems like blogging about depression is like a 12-step meeting…even through depression is not an addictive choice. Would anyone like to join my chapter of Depressed Bloggers Anonymous?