Clinical depression is recurrent depression. Which unfortunately is what I have.
Around this time last year (believe me, I remember it well) I had my third bout of severe depression in three years. And as per usual it came back with a BANG! There were some warning signs ie. feelings of intense panic at times, but overall was in good form. Then a severe low mood kicked in. And by God do you notice that. Suddenly it’s like your whole personality is completely wiped out, and there’s nothing left. You’re on autopilot, and start to feel like everything is pointless. Your sleep is seriously disturbed and you spend endless nights diving down, down, down into a black bottomless pit. Life is carrying on as normal all around you, but your mind is being attacked by hundreds and hundreds of endless black thoughts. Wave after wave after wave. There is no let up.
So I ran back to my doctor. At that time I’d been off anti depressants for two months after a 6 month course of them. She prescribed me 20mg of Prozac. I was gutted. I felt like I’d taken twenty steps back. Then she referred me to a psychiatrist. Because my depression had recurred every year for the last three (since the birth of my daughter). I was stunned. Inwardly I convinced myself I didn’t need to see a psychiatrist. That evening I told my husband I was not going to see a psychiatrist, because I was not mad. He told me to do what my doctor advised. I argued there was no way I was sitting in the waiting room of a psychiatric clinic because other people would see me, and I was NOT one of them. I felt so crap about it, I chickened out of going, scared of what the psychiatrist would say to me. He’d probably admit me to hospital. If I ignore it, it will go away. Wrong, I got another appointment. I phoned the secretary on the morning of the appointment, explaining how anxious I felt about being recognised by others in the waiting room. She said it would be quiet. But I’m having none of it. I arrived complete with a dark hat pulled down as far as I could manage (it sounds ridiculous to me now, but I was very much in denial of my illness at that time)
The nurse brings me to a small room where I can wait. After a while the psychiatrist is ready to see me. He shakes my hand and introduces himself. I feel like a complete basket case.Why is this happening to me? Why me? Why? Why? Why? I just want to be normal, like everyone else. He asks me how many bouts of depression I’ve had in my life. I tell him this is my fifth. He asks how I’m feeling. I tell him I’m not tired, am functioning, going to work etc. but I’m in a pretty black hole. My head is utterly destroyed.
He tells me that I more than likely have clinical depression. He said every time a bout of depression recurs, the percentage of it recurring again increases. I keep disagreeing with him, coming up with various reasons why it’s recurred. I tell him that I’d drank too much on a night out and that’s why it came back. I tell him I kick it pretty quickly each time it comes back (about two months) but I know myself it takes at least 2 months for the meds to start working. He recommends I stay on anti-depressants indefinitely, possibly for the rest of my life. I keep telling him I don’t have Clinical depression, because I just couldn’t have something like that.He also recommends I see a counsellor and meditate 3 times a day (I ignore this).
When I get home I feel very frightened and am still reeling.I tell my husband, I don’t want to have Clinical Depression. I want it to go away. I tell him I’m frightened of losing my mind, of going mad. Because if I lose my mind, I might never get it back again. And I don’t want to ever have to put him and my daughter through that, or my close friends and family.
I suppose even though I didn’t realise it at the time, I was actually on my way towards finally accepting a part of myself that I never thought I would.
Depression in itself is horrific, but in my experience the journey you go on when starting back on meds is another type of horror. And the truly sad thing about it is you look fine to everyone else. There’s no broken arm, no red spots. Just an excruciating inner turmoil. That is completely invisible to everyone, including your family and friends.
I think the only people who saw through my tough facade were friends who’d been down the same desolate road as many times as I had.
I’ll continue my story in the next blog.