Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Depression Post #1: My History

I’ve been struggling to write this post for the better part of two months.  I have always thought of this post-- ephemerally, anyway--as partly a way to contextualize my flakey blogging ethic and partly as a way to share my experiences-- both for my benefit and the benefit of others.  So let’s give it a go, shall we?

Let’s start with the basics: I, along with a sizeable portion of American adults, have depression and anxiety.

As any Wikipedia Sigmund Freud can tell you, the two disorders often go hand-in-hand, feeding off of one another in a vicious cycle of emotional misery: you’re depressed because of x, then you start to worry and twist yourself in knots over x, then you feel even more depressed because of your anxiety over x, which just makes you more anxious about x-- with these two buggers around, you can take an emotional nosedive quickfast.

Both disorders run in my family, so I have a strong genetic predisposition to them, though, through therapy, I have been able to trace both back to traumatic experiences that began early in my childhood.  Since my triggering events happened very early in my life, just as I was beginning to form an identity, there is no telling what my personality would have been like without the depression and anxiety.  In many ways, the disorders are as much a part of me as my freckles or fingerprints.

I treat my depression through a combination of medication and therapy; it took many, many, many years to find the right medication and dosage for me and a bit longer still to find a therapist who was the right fit for me as well.  In the past, I use to have bad months, bad years; with my current care plan in place I only have bad days or, at the very most, bad weeks.  While I am sure  that still sounds dire, it’s a tremendous improvement for which I am very grateful.

This talk of improvement, however, isn’t to say that I have magically be cured of my depression or that my anxiety has magically disappeared.  As I said before, my mental health concerns are a part of who I am-- though perhaps the freckles analogy is a bit too flip.  If I am completely honest, depression, in my experience, is a chronic illness that I have to carefully manage. I’ve no Pollyanna-ish hope that I will one day be cured; you can’t wait for some nebulous pipe dream to become a reality and make things better for you.

No, if you have depression, chronic depression-- tempered with a particularly crippling anxiety-- you have to be vigilant and strategic with your care plan: take your medicine regularly, go to your medical appointments, when you’re having a bad day use the strategies you have been taught to mitigate the low.  For me, these self-help strategies include taking a relaxing bath (with soothing salts or bubbles), using a face mask, watching a movie, cuddling my pug, or . . . just playing Angry Birds.

This year, however, I have hit a bit of a rough patch and it seemed that even my tried and true care plan was coming apart at the seams.  I was crippled.  I also know that it was my own fault for not being vigilant with my own care and for not paying any mind to my personal limitations.  I’ll talk about these in my next post, however; this entry is getting a bit long winded . . . so until tomorrow . . .



No comments: