I haven’t talked much about the fact I have depression, here on the blog.
It’s not because I’m ashamed of having depression – it’s more because it feels like ancient history, and it’s really not that much of an issue in my life anymore.
I was first diagnosed with depression, around the time my youngest child (the delightful Miss 20) turned two – yes, eighteen years ago!
In hindsight though, I definitely had problems with depression long before I was actually diagnosed.
What It’s Like to be Living with Chronic Depression
I’ve been living with chronic depression ever since, though I’m one of the fortunate ones – as long as I’m taking medication I’m okay.
When I go off it however – which I have tried a couple of times, under medical supervision (once for six months, and again for just over a year) – life just becomes really hard. Imagine trying to go about your daily tasks, with heavy weights on your arms, legs, and eyelids – every single day. There is no reprieve.
Everything is grey and fuzzy, and you may as well be walking through thick pea soup. It’s really, really horrible.
Nowadays however, I know that life doesn’t have to be that way. It was a no-brainer for me to go back on medication when I realised I was struggling again!
Depression Risk Factors
I’m not sure why I developed depression – but I certainly seem to have scored a “full house” in the deck of cards handed to me in life, with all the common risk factors:
- genetics (my mother and grandmother both suffered forms of depression);
- dysfunctional family of origin (see above!);
- childhood abuse (see above!)
- perfectionist, type A personality;
- social isolation (when I was first married and had kids, I moved to the other side of the city).
There is a myth that depression occurs only in people with a sad and miserable life, and that they cry all the time. Maybe this is why it took so long to work out that I had depression – because I had a GREAT life (happily married, 2 kids, nice home, etc).
Signs I was living with Chronic Depression
Although I *did* get teary at times (what woman doesn’t – it’s called hormones!), my depression manifested in other ways.
Mainly, I was extremely cranky and irritable (poor hubster), and absolutely exhausted all the time. When my GP queried me on the latter, I was like: I’m a mum of two tiny tots – of course I have no energy! (And, just to make things even more fun, this symptom was further exacerbated by my struggles with low iron).
Living with chronic depression had a negative impact on so many areas of my life: I withdrew from friends, from our marriage, from fun, from anything that made life enjoyable. I suffered constantly with illness, aches and pains – particularly migraines (I’ve since learned that the pain centres in the brain become over active in depression sufferers!).
I’ve not saying anti-depressants are the be-all and end-all – I’ve also seen a psychologist about some of my issues. But being on medication has definitely helped by balancing the chemicals in my brain.
For nearly twenty years I have taken medication, and am so grateful for the quality of life it has given me. Perhaps you know somebody with epilepsy or asthma, who feels the same way about how their medication has helped them? It’s really no different.
I wouldn’t say I’m cured, but I’ve certainly found a way to manage living with chronic depression, so that it pretty much takes a back seat in my life.
Have you suffered from depression? What works for you?
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