I suffered from bouts of depression from my early teens to my early thirties.
Usually they were triggered by some problem which seemed serious at the time – being dumped by a girlfriend, a string of rejections for jobs I applied for, a bout of bad health - but sometimes they were just a product of disappointment, especially in my “career” (series of jobs would be more accurate) and personal relationships. It wasn’t just my inability to have a steady relationship with a girlfriend, but also that I lacked friends who shared my interests and outlook…
My bad depressions, however, rarely lasted all that long – a few weeks to a couple of months max - and even during these periods, I usually enjoyed some things, like sport and reading. But I never sought any treatment, unless you include drinking far too much alcohol. I periodically got some useless advice from friends and family; “You just need to change job”, “Find a wife and have kids” or “Chuck it all in and travel round the world” being prime examples.
My thirties and early forties were much happier times. I mostly did pretty well at work, found a new group of friends with whom I shared many interests and values, had a few steady girlfriends and eventually lived with one of them. My diary was full; I had a nice house and car, went on great holidays and felt positive about the future. I though my days of depression were behind me. I was wrong.
Suddenly, everything changed for the worse. I’d had difficult problems for a while –a very sick elderly mother, a high-stress house move and a high-stress job in a failing company – but I was just about coping until one day the “straw that broke the camel’s back” hit me. It may seem trivial: one of my staff gave in his notice. He was the star of my otherwise unimpressive team, he made it clear that he was jumping a sinking ship. I went crashing downhill and stayed there. I was prescribed a lot of antidepressants over the next few years, and did 10 weeks or so of psychotherapy. The former helped a bit, the latter made me worse. I read a few self-help books but found little to help me.
After more than two dark years, during which I became ever more reliant on alcohol and “sugar rush” foods, things at work improved (entirely by chance), the house move problems receded into the past and I started enjoying life again, and had about 7 good years - until another deadly combination serious work problems and the final illnesses of two of my family sent me crashing down again. This time, I had some CBT, and found a way forward. But, if you are prone to depression, I don’t think you’re ever really “cured” of it. I’ve still had depressive bouts over the last decade, but I’ve learned to manage and mitigate depression far better.
Oldie but Goldie
A Moodscope member.
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