Depression: A Personal Journey
When people hear the words depression, or Bi-polar, a lot of misconceptions come to mind. Crazy, made up, dangerous, suicidal are some of the main ones. Depression is not a figment of ones imagination, nor is it usually something one can change without help. I have heard it all, go fishing, be happy, do this or that, or a variety of other "solutions".
Depression is very real, and not only does it affect your own health, it can affect your job, your home life, relationships, finances, and many other aspects of your life. Depression can be triggered by a variety of reasons, and it is best to utilize not only a psychiatrist, but your own personal physician as well. One to help you with diagnosing your mental well being, and the other to check you for chemical imbalances. Lack of certain vitamins can lend to depression, or worsen it, such as Vitamin D. Studies have shown that people with lower amounts of Vitamin D can suffer from worse depression then those with normal levels, due to the inability to handle stress.
Stress and depression go hand in hand a lot of times, with one feeding off the other. Sometimes it begins as job related stress, that leads to depression, which leads to lack of interest in other things, which leads to more stress, which then just causes an emotional roller coaster in which you feel you have no control over anything.
To recover from depression, you must get help. Your doctor will take a blood sample(several actually) and begin looking for medical or chemical imbalances. Your psychiatrist will begin a verbal exploration to get to the bottom of your problems. These can actually cause a lot of stress in the beginning, as things you have ignored are brought to light and they psychiatrist helps you face and over come them.
Once the doctor has the lab results back, they will work with the psychiatrist to come up with a prescription plan that should be suited for you. In my case I am taking 3 daily medications, and 1 that is used when needed for anxiety attacks. The trial and error period of getting the drugs right, the dosage right can be rough, but communicate everything you feel and experience with your doctors. Anti-depressants are one of the few drug types that can actually worsen symptoms.
Some things I do to lesson and try and cope with my depression are listed below.
- Write: I write a lot. Poetry, fiction, anything that gets the thoughts coming out of the head and clearing space
- Exercise: Daily you need some form of exercise to help the blood circulate, to get the good endorphins flowing, and to avoid gaining weight while dealing with the depression.
- Stress Chart: This really helped me and my psychiatrist understand what was going on with me. I created a stress chart by putting myself at the center, identifying the areas of stress in my life, and what caused stress in those particular areas. Naturally the more I wrote, the more depressed I got, but once identified, they can be rectified.
- Mediation/Prayer: Try to have some quiet time daily to either pray or meditate, or both. Keep no thoughts in your head, find somewhere nice and quiet to do so, and just let it go.
- Identification: Learn your body and your moods. Find out where and when you began to slip one way or the other, what may happen that causes you to get more depressed, or even happier.
Depression is a disease, and should be treated as such. Do not ignore it, do not hope it will go away on its own, get the help you need, not only for yourself, but your family and friends. Life is too short to stay depressed all the time.