Depression Paradoxes

Depression’s a very, very strange illness, riddled with oddities and eccentricities which often don’t seem to make sense.

For example, we know that depressed people often engage in “black-or-white thinking”: something’s either good, or it’s bad; there’s no in-between state (though most of us seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in the black!). During a depressive episode, a person might lose weight, or gain weight. They might suffer insomnia and not get enough sleep, or hypersomnia, and be sleepy most of the time. Depression might be caused by a single trauma, by an accumulation of life events, or be part of a person’s biological makeup.  A medication regime which works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.

It really is a weird beast, isn’t it? As I type this, I’m reminded of the elephant in the room with the blind men – you know the story I mean, where one man is touching the elephant’s trunk, another its tail, another its leg … and when asked to describe the elephant, they each give contradictory descriptions, even though it’s the same animal they’re describing.

For me, the most difficult paradox is that depression makes me feel less like doing the things I know will help me get better. This  annoys me no end. Depression is a very personal illness; it’s as though each of us is stuck in a personalized maze which we need to find our own way out of. For me, the way out consists of:

  • taking the right dose of the right medications at the right times
  • psychotherapy, to address those deep-seated issues which feed my depression
  • exercising
  • sleeping an appropriate amount
  • meditating, and other mindfulness activities
  • writing
  • socializing
  • being of service to others, even in very small ways, such as giving away home-grown vegetables
  • challenging negative thoughts
  • mood monitoring and regulation. (The top five on this list are probably the most important right now.)

See? I know what to do, but often do not feel like doing it. Well, apart from taking my medications – that’s easy! On the other hand, there are some days when exercising or socializing seem impossible.

I’d be interested to know what your personal ‘prescription’ for depression is. Are your ‘top five’ the same as mine, or not?

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Depression Paradoxes

  1. eddieredvine

    Anxiety prescription I have at the moment (although like your depression one I don’t generally abide by my own advice).

    ** Medication as appropriate.
    ** Being open and honest with myself about what I’m feeling.
    ** Challenging my negative self talk.
    ** Spending time on myself – bath, doing my nails, watching a TV programme.
    ** Eating appropriately (I tend to restrict).
    ** Trying to sleep at regular times – I suffer from hypersomnia/ insomnia cycles.
    ** Allowing myself to show my real emotions – like my cry on J’s shoulder the other night.
    ** Self affirmation.
    ** Someday – exercise will be added once I am physically able.
    ** Filling out my thought diary so that I can reflect on the anxiety with my therapist to work on healing.

    Eddie xx

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  2. In no particular order:)
    1 – Meds, although they are probably more of a placebo
    2 – Exercise, swimming is the best therapy for me. I manage to just have an hour of only thinking about the water, the way my body is working, the positive effect it’s having.
    3 – Visits to my psych nurse, – I leave exhausted and feeling physically lighter after offloading all my anxiety.
    4- Friends, although I have to force myself to get out there and see them, when I’m with them I manage to try and remember who I’m meant to be, again.
    5- Drawing – My favorite activity.
    6 – Sleep, my sleep pattern is so messed up right now but I know I’m getting better when I have a less restless sleep, no nightmares and at least 7hours!
    7- Quality time with my beautiful daughter, I love the hours we find to spend time together, even if it’s just a cuddle on the sofa, it’s so precious. She’s my reason to live.

    Hope you are well today x

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  3. My top five are of course the same, Sister. 😉

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    • Ha ha. Oh, I’ve been meaning to say this for a while – “Sister of the Heart” came to me after reading an Orson Scott Card book (the bloke who wrote “Ender’s Game” which was in the cinemas recently) – people on a future world settled by people of Chinese descent had “Ancestors of the Heart” for whom they were named, and I liked that concept.

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  4. New to blogging but here are mine

    *Meds on schedule
    *I like working construction style puzzles/models
    *I sleep when I’m depressed so if I keep myself engaged in an activity that is good and distracting
    *Writing prayers
    *Music
    *New: Blogging my feelings and experiences

    When I am super depressed or fighting really bad anxiety, I will shut myself in my house for days at a time. Like you said, I know all the things that I SHOULD do, but when your body feels like total and utter shit you don’t feel like doing anything. You just feel horrible. I can’t listen to or play music, construct or anything. Not even TV helps. I have to med out and unfortunately I still fall back to alcohol sometimes and pain meds if I am so depressed I feel like self harming. However, when I’m doing a little better, I will start doing some of these activities to help bring me out of it.

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    • Sounds like you’re doing a lot of constructive stuff! It’s great that you can observe the less-than-ideal patterns – the first step is awareness, and all that. It’s FANTASTIC that you can take appropriate positive action when you’re starting to pick up, to hasten coming out of deep depression.
      Lots of good stuff there! 🙂

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  5. 1/ Meds…I seem to have the right combination now although think I may still need dose adjustment
    2/ Daily mood assessment. I use Moodscope (moodscope.com), which I find really useful. It’s also great for showing your mental health team how you have been doing.
    3/ Diet…I am trying to eat much more healthily, and regularly. I’ve also given up alcohol for the year to see what impact that has.
    4/ Mindfulness – this has been so useful. Not just the meditations, but turning off distractions and trying to manage one task at a time.
    5/ Exercise – I am desperately trying to get this going as when I do get out everyday I notice the difference.
    6/ Rest – I drop down really quickly when I deplete my energy levels. This could be as simple as being out two nights during the week. I always aim to keep one day free at the weekend where I don’t have to see/speak to anyone and can just do the things I want or need to do.

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    • All these sound really good. I’ll be interested to hear how the alcohol thing goes.
      I’m one of those rare oddities – an Australian who doesn’t drink. I’m not an alcoholic, but I decided in 2009 that drinking was bad for my mental health, and simply stopped! (Well, it wasn’t as quite as easy as that, but almost.) I don’t like it when people assume that I’ve stopped because I’m an alcoholic; no offence to people who struggle with alcohol addiction, but I bristle at the assumption. I guess it’s because I gave up because I was heading towards something (better health) rather than away from something (a substance which was doing me harm). Maybe I’m just playing with words …
      Anyway, I’m the weird one who toasts with sparkling water, orders a lemon lime & bitters at the pub, and gets fairly bored when everyone else around me is pissed (i.e. drunk – remember, I’m Australian!).
      Let me know how it goes for you!

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