Depression can be hard. Attempting to push through life when all you have the energy to do is curl into a ball and grieve every aspect of your pitiful existence. Trying to understand exactly what went wrong when just yesterday, or even a couple minutes before, life was so happy and promising. For those of us with children, doing your hardest to keep the vibrant light of their spirits bright while your own feels crushed under a weight, and you can’t put a finger on what that weight is. And for those of us who refuse medication for whatever reason, climbing out of the abyss by reminding yourself things aren’t as bad as they seem and will rebound “soon” is about as easy as reassuring yourself you stand an excellent chance you’ll win the lottery. Even though you don’t play. For however long the “spell” lasts life is an abundance of “What’s the purpose?” questions with no real answers and no one who really understands why those questions exist in the first place. Especially yourself.
After “fighting” my symptoms for over a decade, I was diagnosed as depressed when I admitted to my then PCP that it was nothing for me to polish off a bottle (or two) of Merlot after work, and that I regularly did just that. She called the behaviour self-medicating and prescribed antidepressants that I took faithfully for about four months before the effect started to wear off. I was then prescribed two which I took for four months more before those were rendered ineffective as well. It was at that point that I decided to struggle along without the meds. It’s been about a year now since that choice.
A lot of things have changed since I made that decision but the fact still remains, I’m still a person living with depression. I know I’ve been depressed for way longer than I’ve been diagnosed with the condition. I’ve been told it runs in my family actually. It took me awhile to admit to myself that I was depressed because of the stigmas attached to mental illness, but it became harder to do so once I learned more about what the condition is for me. You see, depression isn’t just manifested through feelings of despair and sadness. In my case, depression was sometimes a not so silent rage I couldn’t talk myself down from, and that rage most often led to very rash behaviour. My depression is an inability to positively process my disappointments in life. Realization of that was key for me to develop a management plan without meds. What I had, and am still learning, to do is not make a move unless I could do so rationally. Is it working? There’s been some hits and misses, especially under present circumstances, but it’s helping in ways the meds couldn’t. It’s putting the responsibility back on my shoulders which helps me regain control when I feel myself slipping, and that’s more than half the battle for me.