I’m suffering through a bout of the black dog at the moment. Depression has crept up on me over the past couple of days, and I’m feeling really yuck. I know I talk a lot about living positively and not letting shit get you down, but there are times even now that I find that creeping black cloud hovering over me, and life gets hard again.
This is usually the time I go quiet when it comes to blogging. I figure nobody wants to hear depressed me talking, because it’s such a downer. But this afternoon, while lolling on the sofa playing Animal Crossing for the 6th hour (catching bugs and planting flowers is so much nicer than listening to my own head when I’m like this), I had a bit of a lightbulb moment.
Everyone goes quiet when depression is biting them on the arse. Nobody talks about how they feel, what they’re doing to try to get past it, and why it might be kicking in. While nobody is talking about it, everyone is feeling alone in what they’re going through when it comes to depression.
I have to admit, I am one of the lucky ones. My depression has been diagnosed for some time, and I am well supported both by friends and my health care providers. I’m lucky enough to have had about 5 years treatment on mine, and I’ve moved out of that scary, bleak, seemingly endless phase that is untreated depression.
Thanks go excellent mental health care, I no longer let depression take it’s toll on my self esteem. Once a bout of depression would have had me tearing down all of the mirrors, starving myself, wearing baggy, black clothes and basically believing that I was worthless and the cause of all of the worlds ills. This is not how I suffer any more, though I do have moments that reflect on that, where I can’t bear to see myself in a mirror or I start thinking stupid negative thoughts about myself. The difference is now that I recognise those thoughts for what they are, my depression talking.
But that is not to say that suffering a bout of depression is any less awful now than it once was. Instead now I just feel bleak, like nothing matters and everything is grey and drab. I usually get physical symptoms with it, like headaches and fatigue, aches and pains. Also, I get sensitive to light and sounds, all I want is to sit somewhere silent and dark – any bright light physically hurts and I find most sounds annoying.
The worst thing is I’m unable to laugh. I love to laugh, I do it every day and it’s the thing people know me for the most. But when the black dog of depression has it’s teeth in my bum, the laugh just isn’t there, and it feels really horrible.
These days I know what my triggers are too. Hormones. Stress. Frustration at not being able to change things. Illness. Exhaustion.
So, what do you do when depression hits?
I used to spiral worse, because I’d let myself think all of the stupid negative things, I’d hate on myself and I’d usually make myself physically sick on top of that. Again, I’m lucky to have had some fantastic treatment for my depression, and now I know what to do when it hits.
I stop. That’s the first thing. At the very moment I realise that I’m depressed again, I have to stop whatever I’m doing, sit down and just acknowledge that I’m suffering a bout of depression. That’s the first step for me and none of the other stuff can follow until I do that.
The next step is to take care of myself. Eat well and regularly, get sleep, relax, get fresh air and sunshine if the weather isn’t too hot, have long showers and pamper myself, and generally just do all of the things that make me feel healthy and fresh. As much as I want to crawl off into bed and starve myself, I know that this isn’t the thing to do, it only makes the problem worse.
Another crucial step is to only surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself. The inflaters in my world. That goes for online too – if I can’t read blogs or talk to people on social media that make me feel good about myself, then I need to steer clear of those places. I have to keep away from triggers that upset me or stress me out. No reading about politics, keeping away from articles, stories and blogs about the injustices of the world, only watching things on YouTube or on DVD’s (I don’t watch television or read papers any more, they are just too full of rubbish and negativity) that are positive.
And finally, give it time. It will pass. I know I won’t always feel this way.
So, what about you, dear readers? What are your remedies for getting through a bout of depression? Do you know what your triggers are? Let’s talk about the black dog, it’s the best way to build a set of tools to help you deal with it when he comes to visit.
But I just want to leave you with something that has made me feel better tonight:
Just a brief comment for now, to say I really appreciate and relate to this post. I’m thinking of you, and hope you feel stronger and brighter soon. xx
Thanks hon, it matters to have a good support network.
Hmm, I usually complain about something that is bothering me to a friend and then that goes horribly and then I curse myself for trying to participate in human interaction at all for at least 24 hours.
I know exactly how you feel…..and it seems as if you have a great methodology and support system in place to handle it.
I suffer from depression and also from sudden jolts of anxiety. Not sure which I hate worse. I think the anxiety because it actually makes me feel insane.
Your strategies are so much healthier than mine. Really, I guess I shouldn’t call mine strategies! It never occurs to me to take care of myself – I end up eating too much crap food, sitting and staring mindlessly at the television and lose communcation with friends and family. I drag myself through the day – taking care of everyone else (home and work), hating the fact that nobody really takes care of me – as I convince myself of during my depression time.
The saving grace for me is that I know I am not crazy and I know that it will pass. That’s the best medicine there is – it’s not a permanent situation.
This seems to have gotten a little worse since I’m aging and in the “peri-menopause” stage of life. I know hormones serve a purpose in our bodies, but it seems to me that they sure do make us suffer a whole lot as well.
I did several years of therapy and am on Effexor. The Effexor is good because it keeps the lion’s share of the anxiety off of me. Not sure it does much for depression. It always amazes me on how fast it will hit. Just out of the blue….wham!!
Like you, I am known for my upbeat personality and my laugh. People reallly get confused when I go into the depression phase and that all stops. Then, I get more depressed that those people are not a little more understanding. Oh well, sometimes you just have to take care of you and not be the “entertainer!” At least I feel that way.
If I could do the things that you are doing, I would be much better off. I truly hope that you are back in top form very soon. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings with all of us. It makes a huge difference! To know that you’re not alone is one of the best medicines there is….keep on keeping on!
Anxiety sucks doesn’t it? I’ve had it mostly managed over the past 5 years but I’ve had a few jolts since I went off my medication, and it’s no fun at all.
I notice a couple of you have been successful with Effexor. That shit gave me seizures. Yep, seizures! And I was losing chunks of time – I’d zone out and suddenly click back to consciousness an hour or so later – apparently I was functioning in that time, but I’d have no recollection of it and it felt like I was waking up out of a deep sleep. And don’t get me started on the “brain zaps” – horrible.
But that’s the thing, when these drugs are good, they’re great, but if they don’t work for someone they can be horrible.
Effexor has been okay…I am on the lowest dosage – I probably need a little more. I do still have anxiety – in fact I am up at 4:00 a.m. here in Tallahassee because I am feeling a little antzy! I tried Paxil and almost came out of my skin. It is so scary to try these drugs. When they work, it’s great, but when you have a reaction to them, it can be quite a bad experience.
I have dysthemia, not full-blown depression. My strategies aren’t as good as yours by a long stretch, some of my better ones are to read good funny warm books, P.G. Wodehouse and Pratchett type stuff. Cheerful music is also a help sometimes, sometimes I prefer something mellow, never the depressing or too energetic music. My usual triggers are forgetting to take my Celexa, my black dog is always following me and forgetting the medicine lets it get right on my heels. Sunshine is good, when it’s there; but I rarely manage enough energy to exercise.
Everyone has their own methods, whatever works for you is the best.
I used to be medicated but am trialling being without it. So far this has been the first bout and it’s no more severe than I have had while medicated.
OMZ! My husband and I are total Animal Crossing fanatics! I’m so glad we’re not the only ones. Ac gives a sort of zen feeling after awhile, too. Ah!
Thank you for this post, because you’re super right about people going quiet. I battle the black cloud hovering often, too. But I tell myself what it is and what it will do and remind myself that I am loved and needed and refuse to let it get to me. Sometimes it works. *hugs*
I’m so glad there is someone out there that gets my addiction to Animal Crossing. My friend Kylie bought it for me for Christmas, she knows me so well, I was hooked within the first day. I wish they’d bring out a new version.
You’re most welcome, I do think it’s really important to share about it rather than hiding away. I certainly feel better having talked about it.
You have the Wii version? There will be a new one on the Nintendo 3DS, the new handheld system that is coming out… next year I think. I’m excited because the DS version was my favorite, because I could play it and watch TV at the same time so it was easier to keep up with.
I’ve struggled with depression as far back as I remember; it’s so much part of how I think that it can be hard to tell the subtle signs that an “episode” is coming on. But since coming to body acceptance and learning to tune myself in to my body and what it’s saying, I’ve learned exactly how to tell the difference in the modes.
I treat it by getting quiet, yes. I withdraw for a bit, listen to music, talk with my bosom friends who I trust with anything and everything. I write and draw, or even just chill out by watching videos on youtube. I also honestly feel better in dark rooms, in quiet- it helps me to recuperate and recover.
Each time I walk out of an episode, I feel stronger. Because I recognize that it’s a mood, a set of nasty thoughts that have no place taking control of me forever. I don’t let it change how I feel about myself, but acknowledge that I’m going through a terrible time and figure out how best to move past it.
KNOWING that those thoughts are part of a disorder and not some internalized truth gives me strength through the darker moments.Having a name for the demons that plague me gives me back control.
I hear you Lindsay, I have always had depression (it runs through both sides of my family and I also have PCOS which is often connected to hormone based depression, so I couldn’t miss it unfortunately) and always will, but with good therapy and treatment, it’s manageable for me now.
You have the best things there! I do like watching comedies, though–sometimes they get a smile out of me.
Totally, something lighthearted and fun is always best to keep the mind occupied.
Before I was diagnosed & medicated, I liked rereading big novels, and my favorite for that was *The Stand*. It had just the blend of adventure and fear with a wonderful set of characters and an overall positive outlook on life.
Also, eating junk food really does make me feel better, as long as I don’t criticize myself for it! When I feel good, I can tell that on junk food I’m not quite as healthy and energetic, but when I’m depressed, a peak state isn’t even an option, and junk food makes me feel cared for and cheers me. The one thing I have to watch is that, as a diabetic, I find really hgih bg can make me amotivational in a way very like depression.
Now I’m an Effexor achiever & very glad! It gives me energy as well as relieving my mood. I do still get depressed, but usually I at least have the energy to do something about it. Gardening especially cheers me and lifts depression; if I can just get into gardening clothes and get out in the yard, I’ll garden and feel better.
On the other hand, I work hard and sometimes for long hours, and I need to recognize when I’m depressed and when I’m just burnt out and need all that rest! In the latter case, a day watching Movies on Demand is just perfect.
Re your depression symptoms: have migraines been ruled out? I’m no doctor, but I’ve never heard of sensitivity to light as a symptom of depression, and it is a symptom of migraines, as is sensitivity to sound. Also, I find hypoglycemia can cause sensitivity to sound, so makign sure you eat is good.
Actually, I and a lot of my friends on LiveJournal do write about depression a fair amount. But it’s always good to share more.
Definitely not migraines, I’ve suffered those in the past (thankfully grown out of them). Sensitivity to light and sound are common depression markers though.
I’m probably not the best person to share strategies (being that I am not in a great place myself right now) but just wanted to say I am thinking of you and hope things get better for you soon.
I use many of the same methods as you, and have found them to work. I’m also going through a trial of medicationlessness now that I’m well enough to actually use all the things I’ve been taught in therapy over the years (and to think I thought it was a waste of time back then!)
I’ve been on almost every anti-depressant on the market over the years – Effexor wasn’t great it actually caused me to have migraines (which I still suffer years later), but it got me through an awful time so I’m still glad I took it.
I hope you feel better soon, be kind to yourself