Many people suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Some suffer from major depression. Some of those suffer from recurrent major depression, and on average will have four episodes during their lifetime. And some of those people suffer from chronic major depression, meaning they will suffer repeatedly throughout their lives. Based on the way my life has gone so far, I’m just waiting to see if I end up an above average recurrent sufferer or if I fall into the chronic category.
Depression feels as though it’s been a constant in my life since college, but the reality of it is that I’ve had several episodes of major depression with relatively happy periods in between. After my first bout with major depression which lasted throughout my last two years of school and part of my first year out of school, I felt pretty good for several years. I got married and got a couple of promotions at my job.
But that first round of depression was deep and long. I removed myself from all but my closest of friends, and I hid my depression from most of them. When we suffer from depression it’s often much simpler to remove ourselves from our social circles than it is to continue to try to deal with our disease while in often uncomfortable social situations. The isolation really doesn’t make it any easier to deal with depression, but it removes the possibility for social discomfort and the potential for having to face social stigma to depression.
The major depressive episode I’m currently recovering from is probably the fourth or fifth major episode I’ve suffered. It has been – by far – the most severe and most damaging incidence I’ve been through. It has also been the first time that I have decided to talk about my depression openly. I’m still in recovery, I’m making some progress, but I have found that being publicly open about what I’m dealing with has been very beneficial to me.
Being open has helped me on a therapeutic level, it has helped my processing of what I’m going through. The support I have received from others has helped me immeasurably. I feel as though talking about my issues publicly has been one of the largest steps I have ever taken to making a full recovery from my disease.
After my first go-round with depression, making positive changes in my personal and professional life helped my recovery. I was a newlywed and I was successfully climbing the corporate ladder at work. I was feeling pretty good about myself. So good, that I stopped taking my medication for depression. For a while it didn’t matter. I was happy and things were heading in the right direction. But as our family grew and I took on greater responsibility at work, I began slipping into old, depressive habits.
I should have gotten back on my meds immediately when things started getting hard, but I didn’t. I was stubborn, I felt like I could beat it on my own. But I kept spiraling down. Eventually, I fell into another major depression.
I got back onto antidepressants and after some time, worked my way out of the depression. But again, I went off my medication. And a couple of years later, I fell into another major depression. And I got back on the meds for a while. After a few more years, during a busy and stressful time, I ran out of my prescriptions and didn’t bother to go to the doctor to get them filled. I crashed badly, and that was the beginning of my current depressive episode.
The lesson, which I’m hoping I’ve finally learned, is simply, stay on your meds. If insanity is repeating the same action to get the same result over and over again, then I’m the king. Proper medication is important when dealing with mental illness and many of these medicines shouldn’t be stopped without a doctor’s involvement. I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining your prescribed medication regime.
Lastly, and most importantly, life is worth living. This is a lesson I hope I never forget. More than once when I’ve suffered from major depression I have been suicidal. The suicidal feelings I had were more intense than ever in the last episode I suffered. Luckily, I was scared enough by what I felt that I went and got help. Considering death so closely and intensely made me realize how valuable life is. It’s not something to take lightly, we should value every minute of it we have.
This doesn’t just go for those of us who have been suicidal. Anyone who’s been depressed knows that you miss out on life because of your disease. Days where we stay in bed, times that we avoid spending with our loved ones because we don’t feel well – we’re missing out on life. I know it’s hard to fight through the feelings and it’s even harder to make ourselves do something when we’re feeling down – but this is part of life that depression is taking away from us, and we should try to remember that. We’re not always going to be able to participate, and that’s ok. But the times when we we’re on the fence, when we might be able to make ourselves take part – those are the times we should try to make the effort. Those are the times we’ll regret the most when we look back at what we missed out on.
Life is short and depression already takes enough of it away from us. We need to value what we have and try to make the most of it.
Author Bio – Jason has suffered from depression and anxiety for over twenty years. He can be contacted on his Facebook.