Depression — A Personal Experience

As I’ve been writ­ing my series on how to achieve posi­tive change, a number of topics have kept crop­ping up as obsta­cles. One of them is depres­sion. Obvi­ously we’re not just talk­ing “got the blues” depres­sion, but real energy sapping clin­i­cal depres­sion. The type that pretty much sucks away your life. And that’s what this post is going to be all about.

It’s Always Been There

I was first diag­nosed with depres­sion when I was in my early twen­ties. But that didn’t happen until I had an episode so bad it screwed up my life enough that I quit my job. Well… I just stopped going actu­ally. Look­ing back it’s pretty clear to me now that my first major episode actu­ally occurred while I was at Univer­sity and just fell under the radar.

Even before that many of the elements that trig­ger my occa­sional relapses were already presents. My brain, unfor­tu­nately, seems to be wired in a way that doesn’t handle stress so well and the pres­sure from anxi­ety and stress can get too much if I don’t keep an eye open for the warn­ing signs.

It’s never going to go away either. With the most recent relapse (over a year ago)  my wife pretty much flat out told me that I needed to go and see the doctor and get back on my medica­tion again. I can be stable and entirely self suffi­cient for years at a time. But as soon as some­thing knocks me off balance, I am unable to right myself with­out some assis­tance.

Understanding Depression

It’s very hard to describe depres­sion to some­one who hasn’t expe­ri­enced it. And even for those who have I think it can be quite an indi­vid­ual thing. For me it is a constant bounc­ing from one emotion to another. Anger, fear, misery. My brain won’t slow down or switch off. It keeps re-hash­ing every thing I did wrong again and again, until some­times I need to dig my nails into my arm as hard as I can to distract myself.

There’s also an exhaus­tion to it. Every­thing is so much effort. Waking up in the morn­ing is almost painful for the imme­di­ate panic that I would feel on real­iz­ing I had to go to work. My foot would start twitch­ing and I would lay there for some time, trying to calm myself enough to just get up and get dressed. There are few things more chal­leng­ing that battling with your own mind. I frequently find myself spin­ning in mental circles when faced with deci­sions.

I am fortu­nate in that I have never expe­ri­enced thoughts of suicide. My personal low point was when I simply stayed home from work and refused to answer the phone for long enough that the police were called to check up on me. But I can under­stand how people end up commit­ting suicide and I don’t see it as an act of cowardice.

What are the Triggers?

How long is a piece of string? There many many elements to depres­sion and I’m certainly not qual­i­fied to provide a good answer to a ques­tion like that. I know that I have a number of trig­gers like stress and anxi­ety. And I know that there are things about the way my brain is wired that make me partic­u­larly sensi­tive to certain activ­i­ties. Inevitably then I’ve gone to some effort to insu­late myself from them.

One of the ways I have attempted to reduce stress in my life in the past is to elim­i­nate surprises. I have a lot of routine in my life. I know what to expect and I know how to deal with it. Strong emotions are also some­thing I tend to see as the enemy, capa­ble of send­ing me spin­ning out of control one more time. Some­times this can make me a bit of a control freak, but some­times that’s what I need.

Most people who know me would say I have a strong person­al­ity. I tend to be very confi­dent of my opin­ions and can be extremely stub­born, but none of that is any use when suffer­ing from depres­sion. Then my own mind is work­ing against me, warp­ing my percep­tions and making me ques­tion my judg­ment all the time.

Moving Forward

There is no doubt that depres­sion has had a major impact in how my life is shaped. It’s not some­thing I can just casu­ally ignore. As much as I plan to try and embrace some change, I have to keep in mind my own limits. Stress, anxi­ety, strong emotions, these all have the poten­tial to send me completely off the rails. Any plans I make have to include meth­ods to handle stress and anxi­ety and give me time to adjust to new things.

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?


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