I call it “the dark side of the Force” because depression is terribly dark and has tremendous power. Like a black hole. This is the story of a case of depression, my depression, the like of which confronts many others day by day. Every year, there are more.
The long ordeal of depression
It was a slow process. It took about a year for depression to reach its full extent. Then another year for me to admit and confess to being in a depressive state and then several months more till I went to the psychiatrist and said “I can’t go on. I need help.”
It’s astonishing how much suffering a person can endure, how tough they can be. It needn’t have been such a long ordeal. Yet like many other people I played it down, telling myself over and again that it would work out somehow – despite the symptoms. The day after, next week, a month hence; I can carry on. It’ll get better somehow.
But if you finally get to the point where there’s no joy in anything anymore, where all you’re doing is functioning, sleeping becomes an alien concept and you’re completely exhausted, then nothing will get better of itself. That’s when you’re stuck deep in depression, completely unable to cope, like you were disabled. You withdraw, just want peace and quiet, no longer want to see, hear anything, just sleep. Catching up with sleep during the day, because the turmoil of thought during the night robbed you of it. Till one day I simply couldn’t get out of bed. I was no longer capable of living my life. At this point, I had to admit to myself that I couldn’t go on, was depressed and needed help.
First aid from the psychiatrist
I went to the psychiatrist, received an antidepressant and embarked on psychotherapy. Relatively quickly after that I felt somewhat better, even just because of the feeling that I had done something against the depression, which had given me a lift. Furthermore, I took the bull by the horns and informed my family, colleagues and friends. I had the good fortune that the levels of understanding and consideration were great. Over and again, someone would ask how I was doing, send me an SMS, to let me know that they were thinking of me. Some people went on trips with me, told me stories, cooked for me and gave me the feeling that I wasn’t alone. That was moving and very helpful.
The journey out of depression
My journey out of depression, which had been my continuous companion for almost two years, was long and hard. I needed lots of patience and patience isn’t my strong suit. Over and again there were little setbacks, forever giving me the feeling of not moving forward. But ultimately, at some point, I succeeded. My ability to implement what I had learnt in therapy improved steadily, I could integrate it in my life, to the point that certain processes became automatic. Interaction with animals helped me lots, because they accepted me as I was. Devoid of drive, weak and incapable of functioning. Back then I spent lots of time with cats and dogs; they calmed me whilst also giving me strength. In the meantime, that worry that depression might return, that I might fall back into the old habits, might not spot the point where I could slip back, is no longer that big. It’s always there, like a warning light in the background, alerting and reminding me to be look ahead, observe myself, set limits and take breaks in good time. Having said all that, the fact remains that I know I’ve beaten depression and, should it ever return, I can manage that again.