For years I have been able to deny that I suffered from depression, always being able to blame it on something else or think that it was temporary. I was never ashamed of it, but I never wanted to admit to myself that I struggled with it. After all I had been through, how could this tear me down? I am too strong, I have survived far too much, it's time to celebrate, I thought. But when the time came (when I finally finished school) to take a deep breath and feel relieved that I was finally free from all that held me down, I couldn't do it. I was unable to feel the joy that surrounded me. I was unable to feel any sense of happiness or peace. Instead I felt angry and tired all the time, immune to everything with any sort of meaning.

I thought it would go away. But it got worse. It was really scary because the idea of living with this sense of heaviness the rest of my life just terrified me. I thought it was unfair- depression is completely unfair.

The worst part about this all is the fact that depression is often caused by past events. I guess mine was about growing up with health problems and certain events during college and supressing all the anger and hurt I felt during those years. It's hard for people who don't suffer from depression to understand how events in the past, events that are clearly over and far away, can affect the life you continue to live. "Getting over it" is something I want to do, and feel I have done, but I'm not sure the depression understands that part.

I've been on several drugs for depression: Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Trazadone, Paxil, Effexor, Cytomel, and Strattera.

Zoloft made me feel like a zombie, Paxil soothed me but made me a little too quiet, Wellbutrin didn't do much of anything. Effexor worked for a while, and then stopped. I went to an amazing doctor who finally diagnosed me with treatment resistant depression, and we began to explore medications that might work for me. After months of different mixtures, I found that a combination of Effexor (low dose anti-depressant) and Strattera (an ADHD drug) worked for me. The combination gives me energy and life, and even a ray of sunshine from time to time. I don't know if it's the solution, but you learn that you take what you can get with this disease.

I despise change, and I take a great deal of comfort in my things, and knowing where they are, and having them just where I need them. I always say that because my health has been unstable in the past that I need to avoid change in every other area of my life. Not the healthiest outlook, but the one that has made it easier for me to deal with unexpected events.

The biggest change that I have made in the last year is that I am recognizing the depression and trying to work towards understanding it as opposed to fighting it. I will no longer deny that nothing is wrong- but I won't let it destroy me, either. It's part of who I am and I am working to be able to step around it as I live day to day, not try to move it out of the way (if that makes any sense). I think understanding comes only when you realize that depression is its own living and breathing thing, and that it has its own free will, and there is very little you can do to intercept it or prevent it. The scariest part of it is when you come to terms with those facts. It's so hard when you realize you have nothing in your current life to "blame" it on. Nothing you can fix to make it all better. It's just there, lurking.

When I am busy, I crave a day to myself, with no projects nagging at me, and no one waiting for anything. I want to do so many things. I have projects to start. I want to paint. I have letters to write. I want to be out on my bike, riding around and snapping photos. I have so much I could be doing that would make me happy.

So why do I only find the energy and motivation to feel so tired and blue? It's so damn frustrating. I want to be doing things and accomplishing everything. I despise this exhaustion that comes with depression, the energy only to eat and sleep. I am so mad at myself that I waste perfectly good days just laying around and not feeling well. A day with nothing in it is so rare, and I waste it. I shouldn't be mad at myself, this is what it's all about. I need this downtime. I know this, I understand it. But the thing I hate most about this stupid disease is the hours it steals from me. It's a small price to pay, considering what some others have to sacrifice for their depression. Like I said, it could be so much worse.

I think the biggest frustration is knowing I should be happy, and feeling a ray of light trying to push through it all, and not knowing how to clear out the fog and let it out.

 

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