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The Struggle With Depression


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This past March I sat in on a meeting about one of my students who had not yet turned 10. He has a lot of behavior problems and psychological problems. His mom wanted him to be evaluated for being classified as "emotionally disturbed" (an unfortunate label but the one used in education in California). She was dissuaded because of the "harm" having a DSM diagnosis can supposedly cause. I didn't say anything at the time but I have to laugh because I have several DSM diagnoses. That is the topic of this thread. It something I need to talk about and of the places I can talk this is the safest, I feel.

 

First: Dysthymia -- In a nutshell, dysthymia is a low grade chronic depression. Unfortunately the definition doesn't really tell the whole story. To simplify, it basically means I'm either depressed, was depressed a few days ago or am on the verge of being depressed. It is kind of like chronic pain, it is pretty much always there. So far nothing has worked to treat this. Sadly (no pun intended) insurance companies don't recognize the need to treat this kind of depression so they won't pay for therapy if this is your diagnosis. On the bright side, having dysthymia has given me incredible coping skills -- I'm actually less likely to attempt suicide because I've learned that the depression will go away and won't always be *this* bad. On the not-so-bright side, when it goes away it will always come back.

 

Second: SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder -- this means that from the end of October until about mid-March I'm fighting for air, emotionally speaking. I have the hardest time dealing with it at the beginning and end of the winter season. I pretty much sleep during the winter (I should have been a bear). This is treatable primairly with a special light box. It helps but doesn't completely take care of the "winter blues." My energy runs very low (on the plus side, I usually don't have problems with insomnia in the winter) and it is all I can do to keep up my basic functioning. Insurance doesn't cover treatment for this, either.

 

Third: Major Depressive Disorder -- reoccuring. This means I periodically go into clinical depression which usually includes suicidal ideation (with or without a plan) and have a great deal of difficulty with the most basic of functioning. There are more symptoms then that. Reoccruing means it didn't happen once but has happended periodically over my life (I'm currently 38 and have been slipped into a Major Depressive episode reguarly since I was 9 or younger). Some people go through *a* Major Depressive Episode. What is different is the frequency at which I have them episodes. This is the one that the insurances covers. This is also the one I take Celexa for. Celexa is my miracle drug. I've tried 6 or 7 different anti-depressants which ranged from not working to having freaky side effects -- let's see if I can remember them all: Prozac (good for anxiety, nothing for depression), Effexor (made me have out of body experiences), Paxil (made me inorgasmic, unusual symptom for a female, but then again, I'm unusual), Celexa (will talk more about it later), Lexapro (supposed to be better than Celexa but made my anxiety worse), Cymbalta (related to Effexor in that it touches norepinephrine and caused unusual side-effects for me). Okay, unless I'm missing one that is 6. The reason I've tried two after finding Celexa is that it doesn't completely work. What it *does* do that makes it a miracle drug for me is times when I used to be triggered into a Major Depressive Episode (from something would last most people only a day of feeling "blue") I don't usually anymore. Sometimes I do, but now, I can actually only be dpressed for a day instead of it lasting 6 or more weeks.

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I wasn't sure how much it would let me put in one post, so this is part two.

 

Right now I'm in one of my down cycles. Even though my job is often stressful not keeping myself on a schedule is causing problems in a different way. In this case I was triggered by failing to "get" a new technique I was trying to learn for painting one of my dolls. This meant I had to strip it completely. I was also painting another doll at the same time and I pretty much quit it. It may sound odd, but keeping in mind my brain chemicals and how they work (or don't work) and it makes a bit more sense. I plan to start up again tomorrow. I see my Psychologist tomorrow which should also help. I just needed to talk about it *now* instead of suffering silently.

 

Thanks to all for listening. It means a lot to me.

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Hi OA,

 

Thanks for sharing. I guess everyone at times has a bout with depression though not to the extent that you describe. It seems to me that when the 'feeling' or 'thoughts' come, it is most effective (at least for me) to just watch them and realize that that is all they are (thoughts and feelings) and as I watch and experience with awareness they lose all power over me since it becomes obvious to me that I am more the observer than the body/mind. It is kind of a shift in identification from who think we are to more of who we really are.

 

Perhaps focusing more on awareness will help your experience. It's not a denial of what's happening as you want to be fully aware of the feelings and thoughts without being caught up in them since you can ask yourself "who or what is watching these thoughts and feelings" and re-identification with your Christ nature naturally occurs and they suddenly lose power over your peace and rest.

 

Just some thoughts to consider if you haven't already tried this.

 

Love,

Joseph

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Thank you, Joseph. I've used that process with other problems but never for the depression. I will try it.

 

I did see my Psychologist today (I see him almost every week) and we did something called a "thought record" which basically helped me break down the thoughts connected to the trigger for this depressive episode. It helped give me some hope which helped lower my level of depression.

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Autumn - I can't imagine what it must be like - I live on the other side. I therefore have no advice and I'm afraid little else to offer. My partner has similar disabilities and at times I'm lost in supporting her.

 

But what I do know is the enormous courge you demonstrate to all us living on the other side. I don't know how you do it - manage a life and family and a disability that threatens to turn everything on its head.

 

But, and again similiar to my partner, you have gifts which your diabilities seem to trigger - gifts which the rest of us on the other side lack. You may not be aware but what you write here is of benefit to the rest of us here.

 

I dips me lid to your psychologist - he sounds very supportive.

 

Thank you for sharing.

Edited by Wayseer
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Thanks, Wayseer. Just you taking the time to read what I wrote helps. It is hard to explain but often when I'm in that state of mind I just need to be heard.

OA, sorry to hear of your depressive struggles.Sounds like your psyhcologist is working with you via basic cognitive therapy-a standard practice and a good one. Sometimes, though, working directly with thoughts is not enough and learning to step outside of mental loops is important. One of the biggest rends in therapy has ben the incorproation of Buddhist mindfulness practices and there is now an approach to cognitive therapy based on mindfulnes:

http://www.mbct.co.uk

 

take care, earl

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OA, sorry to hear of your depressive struggles.Sounds like your psyhcologist is working with you via basic cognitive therapy-a standard practice and a good one. Sometimes, though, working directly with thoughts is not enough and learning to step outside of mental loops is important. One of the biggest rends in therapy has ben the incorproation of Buddhist mindfulness practices and there is now an approach to cognitive therapy based on mindfulnes:

http://www.mbct.co.uk

 

take care, earl

 

 

Yes, CBT has had the most success in treating depression, particularly when it is chronic and reoccurring. It is actually my husband who has introduced me to mindfulness. I have not been overly successful in it but I will bookmark the page and read more. Thank you.

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Good Morning, OA...

 

I know exactly what you are going through because I have a disorder that includes a depression cycle as well. There were times when all I could do was park the car and stare out of the windshield. Sometimes I could tell when the depression was going to come on the way that we can see a storm approaching by watching the clouds. In my case, I have, and have had since I was a teenager, generalized anxiety disorder that cycles between mania and depression, although not to the extent of those who struggle with manic depression. It also has an obsessive-compulsive side, too. I ended up becoming an alcoholic in order to medicate myself, but all that did was ruin my life, turn me into a bum, and nearly kill me. It took me many years of being sober and struggling with this disorder without drinking to realize that I have a problem that needs to be addressed on a professional medical level. I take an anti-depressant and it has made all the difference. In some cases, people have been able to learn to cope with their own depression or anxiety without meds. For others, the disorder is so deep it can only be controlled by meds. Hang in there...you're doing the right thing by seeking out professional help. :)

 

Russ

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Russ, as I understand it many people self-medicate with alcohol and drugs (illegal or prescription not used as intended) for both depression and anxiety. I was lucky, in a way, that I skipped that -- an advantage to coming from a household that didn't allow alcohol (let alone drugs) in it! It wasn't until I moved to CA that I found out that many people who are "alcoholics" are actually self-medicating. I can certainly understand how that would work to treat the depression -- certainly providing an escape and thus some relief. Thank you for your post and for your self-disclosure. Even though I wouldn't wish these experiences on anyone it is also good to have the confirmation that I am not alone in them. It gives a different meaning to misery loves company, doesn't it?

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I wasn't sure how much it would let me put in one post, so this is part two.

 

Right now I'm in one of my down cycles. Even though my job is often stressful not keeping myself on a schedule is causing problems in a different way. In this case I was triggered by failing to "get" a new technique I was trying to learn for painting one of my dolls. This meant I had to strip it completely. I was also painting another doll at the same time and I pretty much quit it. It may sound odd, but keeping in mind my brain chemicals and how they work (or don't work) and it makes a bit more sense. I plan to start up again tomorrow. I see my Psychologist tomorrow which should also help. I just needed to talk about it *now* instead of suffering silently.

 

Thanks to all for listening. It means a lot to me.

 

I'm sorry to hear what you're going through, OA, but I'm so glad you've found help for yourself without resorting to alcohol or other non-prescription drugs, and I'm also so glad you feel comfortable enough here to share this with us. I can semi-relate because I have been in a state of mild depression for over a year now (will probably be going on some anti-depressants this summer, especially because I also have some problems with anxiety and with all the major changes I'll be going through next fall...I think I'll need that extra help), but the fact that I know my depression is only mild (even if it doesn't feel like it to me) makes me sympathize with you even more - I can't imagine what real, true, full-on depression would be like. Again, thanks for sharing, I hope you feel better soon!

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Thank you, McKenna. Please take extra good care of yourself. Transition times are hard. The most commonly used anti-depressants can take 6 weeks to kick in. Keep that in mind when you are seeking help.

 

I will, thanks for the advice! :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dear Autumn,

Your posts have struck my heart and the hearts of others. I cannot imagine having to struggle through such drought.

I pray for you as you fight through these crushing symptoms and their causes to implement the cure.

Be not discouraged, but full of hope.

 

God's Grace to you,

 

Davidk

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Dear Autumn,

Your posts have struck my heart and the hearts of others. I cannot imagine having to struggle through such drought.

I pray for you as you fight through these crushing symptoms and their causes to implement the cure.

Be not discouraged, but full of hope.

 

God's Grace to you,

 

Davidk

 

I agree completely. Thank you to everybody who has been willing to share their thoughts with others on this thread. Thank you, OA, for your courage. Thank you, Davidk, for your prayer.

 

Jen

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