Depression: A Story of Many Beginnings
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John describes his recovery from depression as a messy one that includes many starting-points, but no clear ending. At the age of 8 he first began to experience feelings of depression, and he recognizes how photographs from his childhood always seemed to show him lurking in the corner looking as sullen as he could manage. Meanwhile, his mother was dealing with a depression of her own, where she would find herself sitting on the couch and suddenly falling asleep. Napping was her past-time, and she explained this away with a non-existent term called “knockophobia”. Of course John was never able to find this term in the dictionary, but at the time there wasn’t very much that anybody knew about depression. The only thing that anybody would hear about was somebody’s “nervous breakdown”, which evoked a sense that somebody had practically died. The whole thing was misunderstood, ignored, and generally avoided as a subject of conversation.
How This All Began
John remembers that his pain first began with migraine attacks and intense anxiety while at school. He would miss days and days of school, spending hours in his room ruminating about how he must be faking an illness and the shame that he felt in ditching class. However, this was actually a form of severe anxiety and depression that nobody fully understood at the time.
John’s teenage years were spent burying his feelings, which he considered to be shameful– He experienced unusual feelings of intense anger and hostility that were potentially dangerous. Locking these aggressive feelings away, he experienced some artificial peace for a brief period of time. However, once John entered his 20’s, everything flooded out. Fear, anger, arrogance, and intense anxiety resurfaced with a vengeance.
As a result, John decided to visit a psychiatrist, one of many who were predominantly focused upon the Freudian theory of Psychoanalysis. The psychiatrist was extremely helpful during their first 3-hour session, where John was able to express himself and explore his past – Putting the puzzle together enough to settle down for a while. Feeling that he had done good cathartic work during his first session, John decided to return to psychiatry only after his next crisis. Several years later he was right back in the psychiatrist’s office, but he didn’t yet understand the term “depression” as it related to his experience. It wasn’t until the psychiatrist submitted a medical health assessment to the Draft Board for the Vietnam War, which indicated that he was “Clinically Depressed”. Soon he found that prescription medications that were available for him to test, and the first was Elavil, which helped him to maintain functionality throughout the day and to sleep more soundly at night while continuing with therapy. John considered his depression to be only one aspect of the problem, where depression was simply a “springboard” to go more deeply into his emotional history.
Psychotherapy and Medication
The psychotherapy and medication regimen soon seemed to reach it’s limits of efficacy, and he decided that taking personal responsibility for his situation was superior to relying upon the external support of a psychiatrist. Therefore, he began researching the condition independently. “. . . I went back to basics and looked much more closely at the particular symptoms I faced. I tracked the details in everyday living and saw that I needed to take the lead in recovery. Medication - when it had any effect at all - played a modest role in taking the edge off the worst symptoms. That bit of relief gave me the energy and presence of mind to work on the emotional and relationship impacts, to try to straighten out the parts of my life I had some control over . . .”
John discovered that one of the keys to his recovery was in discovering his unique form of creative expression, where he explained that “One of the most important efforts was writing about my experience with depression. Writing is one way I discover things, but a deep fear had blocked me from doing it for years. I can see now that the real reason I got stuck was that I had been trying to write about everything but depression. When I could finally take that on directly, writing came naturally.”
The childhood belief that he was fundamentally unworthy seemed to be at the root of his emotional problems, and realizing this helped him to begin internalizing the belief that he possessed fundamental self-worth. That he was actually worthy.
Connecting with a new community of others who were working through the same challenges was also key for John’s recovery from depression, where he turned to blogging as a means by which to connect and express himself through writing. The online community was a great fit for him, and he found that the free exchange of ideas, techniques, and positive stories was useful for his self-development. Finally, after many years of self-discovery, he began to find himself settling into a sense of lasting self-worth and genuine confidence. Although he believes that set-backs to occur, John acknowledges that balance is possible.
John’s original story and first-hand account can be identified at the following link: http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?&id=48713
- Anonymous Contributor