Recovery from Depression

 

I haven’t been able to write much lately.  Depression has had me by the throat again, but I do miss the connection from blogging.

Yesterday I started another 9-week course at the Recovery College, “Taking Back Control and planning your Own Recovery”.  I had to drag myself there, kicking and screaming, because depression makes me very paranoid and all I want to do is hibernate.  Sometimes it just feels so difficult to face up to my-own-self.

The idea of recovery feels like a bit of a sticking point.  How can I recover from Recurrent Depressive Disorder?  That word, “recurrent” feels like a ball and chain.  I seem to have been surfing various waves of mental illness for years.  I often wonder the point of taking so much medication.  Will I ever completely overcome depression?

Sometimes it feels as if the reality of recovery is more about having bouts of temporary relief from chronic depression, but that doesn’t feel acceptable to me.  I seem to live with various levels, but there is seldom anything near the notion of happiness or contentment, not for many years.  I don’t want to settle for that, so the time to act is well overdue

To be asked, “what’s your beliefs, interests and passions in life?” is an extremely difficult question for me to face up to.  There is an incredible amount of shame attached to who/what I became, following my initial mental breakdown 15 years ago.

Lately, I’ve had to swallow a deep rooted and very painful humiliation for allowing life to reach such a low point.  To arrive at a stage where I feel a complete waste of space is an extremely tragic position for me to be in. How could I allow myself to sink so far?  It is so difficult to admit this to myself, let alone a group of other people.  Sometimes I want the ground to swallow me up rather than admit to feeling so empty and useless.

I feel as if I have thrown away too many valuable years.  Remembering the things I used to love is almost like looking at someone else’s lifestyle.   I often ask myself, ‘Was I ever really that capable?  Did I really do those amazing things?  Was I really that care free and happy?  It feels more like an alien life on another planet.

As each year passed, the isolation grew.  Many people tried hard to reach me, but I wouldn’t allow anyone in, not even family.  My brain went into meltdown, one by one the switches turned off and the plugs pulled out forever.  Not only did I lose interest in the things that gave pleasure, but I slowly lost faith in the beliefs that helped to sustain me.

During the last 2-3 years, I have been trying so hard to climb out of that hole, but it hasn’t been easy.  I’m not the same person.  It feels as if I need to start life all over again and that prospect terrifies me.  When you’re 50, fresh starts don’t feel so easy as they were when I was 20’s and 30’s.  I would need to retrain or attend a college and create an entirely new me with a new profession.  By then I’d be 54/55 and maybe not as employable as someone younger.

All I can do is to try to accept where I’m at today and work from there.  I have a few courses over the summer and my 2 year therapy programme is due to start at the end of this month/start June.  It feels like I’m planting a few seeds, maybe even looking to see what new switches can be turned on.  It might even mean a complete rewiring of the circuit board, but I think, with the right support and guidance,  that’s doable.

St Mary’s Battersea, London

Image

Advertisements

48 thoughts on “Recovery from Depression

  1. Gel

    Amazing photo.

    Thank you for sharing. Your writing is clear and eloquent. That gives me the inkling that you have deep wisdom and access to the answers to your struggles.

    I feel along with you when I read what you wrote here.

    May I say the thoughts that arise after reading your post?….I will….Don’t accept everything the medical profession says about you. and the definitions put on you. You are way more than that. I believe in you and that it’s possible for you to find deep healing.

    Have you checked out the site called Beyond Meds? you might resonate with some stuff there.

    Love
    Gel

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Gel. I’m not so sure about the wisdom, but I do have faith in finding the answers to many things during my upcoming therapy.

      The church and graveyard in the photo date back to 1700’s, but it is one of the earliest consecrated sites on the River Thames since as early as 800AD. It’s one of those little gem spots hidden amongst the manicness of central London

      Like

      Reply
  2. Susan Irene Fox

    Cat, what a beautiful photograph! I want to offer something based on one of your comments above: “I slowly lost faith in the beliefs that helped to sustain me.” I know you’ve been reading my blog. I know when tragedy strikes, many of us make a choice to either run away from, or run toward Him. I pray you will open your heart to Him and allow Him to comfort you, and bring you peace. This is not about rules or churches – it’s simply about finding your way back to a relationship with the One who loves you. I encourage you to simply rest in Him this weekend.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Susan. I always read your blog and have great admiration for your faith.

      I was just saying to someone else that the church in the pic dates back to 1700’s and is a concecrated site since 800AD. It is gorgeous inside with magnificant stained windows and a choir to die for!

      As always, yourt support is greatly appreciated, thank you

      Like

      Reply
  3. kat

    everything you said resonates with me. it is as if you spoke from my mind. i too wonder, now that i am climbing out and plugging in new plugs, where i will land. the education and job experience from my past will not be useful in the future, and i don’t know about retraining, reentering the job force in my 50’s either. but maybe you and i will do as you hope, rewiring the circuit board, and starting fresh. i’m glad you (and i) are finally at a point where we are climbing out, and making new circuits.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Kat, you know, I bet there are loads of people who would love to have our opportunity of starting afresh…rewiring their own circuit board. It’s frightening but I also know we should grap it by both hands and make the most of it. That’s definitely easier said than done. This is bigger than simply rewriting a new chapter, it feels more like starting a new book.
      I’m pleased we can relate to each other.

      Like

      Reply
  4. shoe1000

    Dear Cat
    I hear you and empathize with you. I am 56 years old and in its first year of the PhD program in psychology. I was an attorney before this my depression got so bad I lost the ability to practice law. All I can tell you is is that you are not alone in this struggle to be connected in this thing called the world
    I’m struggling this hard today as I have in years. It’s really hard for me to keep doing anything that seems positive. All I want to do is watch TV and check out.
    Lots of love to you my friend
    Jim

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Jim. It always means so much to hear other people say they understand Well done you on the phd….I hope I can mirror that progress. I know it’s hard to keep going when the depression weighs so heavy

      Like

      Reply
  5. Bradley

    It’s good to see you back, but I’m sorry you are going through such a rough patch. So much of what you wrote felt like it was coming straight from my head.

    I turned 50 this past year. When I aired my frustration to my pdoc that I’d probably be in my 60’s before I got my masters degree, he so wisely asked, “So, what else are you going to be doing?” He’s right. It’s not just people in their 20’s and 30’s who are allowed do-overs. Us older folk can too

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks Bradley. I’m not sure why I don’t seem to be receiving notification of your blog posts, but you have been on my mind. I hope you’re doing okay

      Like

      Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      I remember watching that clip on your blog months ago and was amazed – and sole – by those possibilites.
      Thanks Victoria

      Like

      Reply
      1. N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ

        Hey Cat — yeah, I knew you had seen it before, but repetition, repetition, repetition is the key. 😉 Just wanted to give you a little hope that if you keep this up, repetition, repetition, repetition, you will come through this. I feel confident.

        Like

        Reply
          1. N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ

            My pleasure, Cat. 🙂 I think you might be interested in a post I’m in the middle of writing. Hopefully I’ll finish it by tomorrow morning. I think you might find it beneficial. The neuroscience of quickly bypassing the emotional centers of the brain to the frontal lobes. It’s so effective that the military uses it for Navy Seal training. It’s the same training method I used to help me during a period in my life when I experienced fear and severe depression. It’s how I rewired my brain. And I’ve used these same techniques later on clients when I had my neurotechnology (brainwave training) and relaxation therapy business. At the time I discovered these techniques, the military wasn’t using them just yet. They are now. Why? Because they work. 🙂

            Like

            Reply
  6. Mandy

    Cat, I feel like crying, reading this. You speak for so many of us who suffer depression. I went to my 2nd therapy session today. You know how difficult it’s been for me to give in and go. And your words now, “There is an incredible amount of shame attached to who/what I became, following my initial mental breakdown 15 years ago.” make me realize I feel that way too, only mine was 32 years ago. And I’m now 60, so I wish I was 50 and doing what I’m doing now–trying to repair. I wish so much healing for you Cat. You’ve helped me so many times with your wisdom and compassion, even though you suffered yourself. I, too, feel sad for a loss of my faith and I am thinking about going to the Grotto this weekend to mediate. I hope you’ll be surprised by some good things to come in your new program you are starting.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Mandy. It does help to know people understand, but I am also sorry that you face your own “hurdles”. Therapy can be so difficult because, not only are we revisiting the horrors from our past, but we are also facing up to the person we became. But, Mandy, depression can also cause us to put ourselves down too much We are our own worst critic. It’s true, we would show each other more care and compassion than we would ourselves. We have a lot to learn
      I’m rooting for your therapy and healing.

      Like

      Reply
      1. mandy

        Cat, I’m checking in with my important blogging friends since I started a new blog (the old is gone)and hope you’ll follow this one so we don’t lose touch. How are you doing?

        Like

        Reply
        1. Cat Post author

          Hi Mandy. Sorry, I’m just logging on today for the first time in ages (life has been a struggle). I will be checking out your new blog

          Like

          Reply
  7. Ruby Tuesday

    I know well what it’s like to look at your life even ten years back and feel almost like someone else lived it. I don’t know if that feeling will ever go away, but for my part, I’ve made peace with it (mostly). It sounds like you’re taking steps to do the same. All my very best to you as you find your own path through recovery.

    Like

    Reply
  8. RisingSong

    It’s wonderful to see you again. So proud of you for fighting your demons and showing up at the Recovery College. You are strong, and you inspire me. Thanks for writing again.

    Like

    Reply
  9. Aurora

    That is a beautiful picture. Please keep writing. I enjoy reading. I’m sorry you are having a difficult time right now. Would a hug help you plug some of those plugs back in? {{{ hugs }}}

    Like

    Reply
  10. Cheryl

    Hi Cat — Thank you for sharing such a beautifully honest post. I have thought many of the same thoughts myself lately and been doing a fair bit of reflection. I’m not sure I believe the term “recover” — in the traditional sense — applies to depression, if we think of recover as a complete absence of symptoms or a return to how we were before depression. I’m starting to see it as an evolution — learning to live with ourselves. My travels through depression have changed me — and in some ways, for the good. I eat better now, practice better sleep hygiene and regular physical activity. With therapy, meditation, mindfulness and reading blogs like yours, I think I am gaining better insights into myself — what lies at the root of my behaviours and thoughts. And I have learned just how strong I am. Even when I feel weak or like a failure, the fact that I am still here, alive, shows resilience. That being said, I don’t wish depression on anyone. It has also delivered heavy damage to my self-esteem, self-confidence, relationships, career and bank account. On the bad days, I don’t see the evolution. It’s only on a good day like today that I can see the other side of it. So I guess my message is that feelings are temporary. The doubts you felt when you wrote your post may be replaced with renewed optimism another day. And remember just how strong you are — as evidenced by your continued attention to dealing with depression. I’ll leave you with the definition that is in the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Declaration of Commitment to Recovery: “the concept of ‘recovery’ in mental health refers to living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life, even when there are on-going limitations caused by mental health problems and illnesses.” That’s my wish for you, for all of us.
    c.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks, Cheryl, for such a warm comment. I fear your interpretation of ‘recovery’ is very true. Forgive me, I’m not myself lately, but just wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your message, thanks

      Like

      Reply
  11. Ellen

    Congrats on dragging yourself, ‘kicking and screaming’ to the course! I so know what it feels like to try to go to things, despite being desperately paranoid. Going to things is good. But facing fears is not easy, and then other issues come bubbling up, which might have stayed nicely buried had we stayed home. Growth hurts.

    I am your age, and also share regrets. My life has been made almost impossible by my ‘mental injuries’, and I have missed out in many areas, including career. Sometimes I think of going back to school….but so far, I haven’t. I think though, we can have regrets at any age. I remember feeling life had passed me by in my thirties. I am just pressing on as best I can, whatever age I am! cheers

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks Ellen. I’m just looking into doing something at University. I may be 50 but I certainly don’t feel it….mentally, anyway!

      Like

      Reply
  12. A Gay Mentalist

    Hi there, i’m really sorry, i’ve missed a few of your posts I think, I’m still in catch up mode. Well done for making that move, it isn’t easy doing those things, but you did it. All the best with it.

    Like

    Reply
  13. dharmagoddess

    Cat,

    I’ve missed you. I’ve also been down the abyss but I’m very relieved to say it’s getting a little better. Like you, I’ve had 2-3 years of battling to get out, only to feel as though I’m not moving or sinking a bit more. Objectively, I found it interesting to grasp the idea that true anhedonia is indescribable and draining. It’s like nothing else. Geh. Yuck.

    Very hard to externalize.

    Moving on. As a former non-traditional student and a prof with scads of non-traditionals, I would like to suggest setting aside the value of age. The vast majority of my students bring their stories with them as well as their experiences. It is a really powerful thing to facilitate the growth and liberation of them from whatever. I coach, counsel and probably care too much which is why I am telling you I think you will be magnificent. You have exceptional writing skills and a great communication style. All of my adult students are way too hard on themselves, which I totally get as the “Poster Child for Second Chances”. Really, it’s more like a zillion chances but that’s cool. At least I got ’em.

    And you…here you are. Just the fact that you’re thinking about going to college is awesome! Whether or not you choose that path or another is irrelevant due to the inherent value of awareness of possibilities. It’s the process man. The process rocks, so do you.

    Big hugs!

    Dharma

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Dharma….how lovely to hear from you. Such a warm message of encouragement comes at a needy time.
      I’m becoming more detremined to start studying again, but first need to make a funding application. The first year will cost many thousands in tuition fee’s, but I might get a full grant. The proceeding years will also cost thousands, but the governement don’t ask for repayments until a student is earning over £20-something-thousand. Hey, I should be so lucky!!
      Thank you so much for your encouragement.
      Sorry to hear you’ve also been struggling. I’ve barely been writing let alone reading blogs, but will catch up soooon
      *HUGE HUGS*

      Like

      Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Amber, that is very thoughtful of you. Truth is, I’ve been struggling to write or keep up with my usual blogs, yours included. My brain’s been totally blank. I think I’m starting to turn a corner now.

      How are you?

      Like

      Reply
  14. Cate Reddell

    Hi Cat. I’m a little late in replying to this post, but while I in no way want to take away from your words, I recognise that I could have written most of them myself. Scary, isn’t it? I think recovery is an individual thing. What it means to you and what it means to me might be quite different, and that’s okay. What it means in two, five or ten years time might be different to you. I know the age thing is really difficult too. I’m only a year behind you and I don’t know the answer. But I think what you are doing is fantastic. Getting out and going to the course must be so hard. Keep going, just one day at a time. That’s enough ( even if it doesn’t feel like it). And take care, you’re worth it.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Lauren. Thank you, that is very kind. I have been struggling lately, so haven’t been blogging. It’s always the first to get neglected.

      Like

      Reply

Your feedback counts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s