The day I was diagnosed with OCD, I was also diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. I told my therapist that I agreed that all seemed plausible, but that the depression was a bit off. I explained that if I had any symptoms of depression, they were only there because I have severe OCD. That’s not the only time I have been diagnosed with depression, and each time, I reject it.
I had these seizure-like episodes as a teenager. For years, a few times a week, I’d get dizzy, fall over and go into convulsions. Joints locked, including my jaw and when I came out of it, I was exhausted and done for the day. Doctors didn’t know what it was, though drug use and stress were the two common suspects. It wasn’t in my head, and I took offense to being told I was stressed.
Since then, I have not taken kindly to being told that stress is causing any of my problems and I associated depression with stress, and thus rejected that as well. Why I don’t reject it now is because I have started to learn what it really means.
I have Dysthmia which I think of as rain cloud. It’s a mild form of chronic depression that feels like a little gloom all the time. I do get happy, it’s just that those moments are rare and I am very aware of when they end. It’s hard for me to stay happy because I know it won’t last and I get antsy for the crash. This triggers major depressive episodes for me where everything feels like work and I lose sight of things. I sleep and sleep and sleep, lose my appetite because I can’t feel my body’s physiological reminder to eat, get flooded with old cravings to binge and cut and get so hazy in the storm cloud, I can’t see the way out. These episodes get triggered once in a while and when I come out of them, I feel like a completely different person.
The reason I am posting this is because I misunderstood and rejected depression so much, that I hoped in sharing a bit of my story I could help clear up that for anyone else struggling with it.
Some important things to know about depression:
- Depression and sadness are different
- Depression is not weakness or cynicism
- Depression feeds off of isolation
- Depression, anxiety, joy, etc…all are temporary
- Like OCD, depression may be a part of your story, but it is not who you are
Lastly, have a plan. If you find yourself caught in a rainstorm, it’s easier to handle if you already know what to do, because when the storm hits, it’s easy to forget what to do. It takes practice to create habits. When I get into a depressive episode, I journal. I remind myself to eat and that it won’t last forever. Exercise is on my list, but it’s not yet my go to. Working on it.
Sometimes, mental illness makes it feel like we just can’t catch a break, but we just have to take things one day at a time. And most important, be kind to yourself. When depressed, do not team up with the bully in your head.
Stay strong my friends.