I'm writing this letter because I at one time, like perhaps yourself, found myself spending frantic bursts of energy trying find someone, ANYONE, that had come through the other side of depression. I needed to know it was possible.
I struggled with depression for a long time I think. I just think that I became so used to it that I forgot what it was like to be happy and thought this was normality, reality. And then the real blackness hit. I felt like a black smog had descended, literally hanging around my face. I can still see this blackness in my minds eye - I will never forget it. Everything felt pointless, too much effort - the thought of putting one foot in front of the other overwhelmed me. I cried all the time, I hated everyone, I drank too much alcohol, I harmed myself, I slept with anyone I could - anything to make me feel a little alive, to dull the pointlessness of existence. I reached a point of nihilism, an existential crisis pondering the point of anything, feeling like bacteria on a slide, elaborately planning to end it all.
Then the medication began. The first 2 did nothing. The 3rd SSRI helped a little but I was on a dose outside of the normal limits (off label prescribing) and the side effects were awful. I never slept, could not orgasm, I felt sick and anxious, had horrendous night sweats every night and my hands and feet felt like they were overheating, to the point I had to put went towels on them to alleviate it. I'm sure some of this will be familiar to you, and in the same way I can never understand exactly how depression has affected you, I can never quite communicate how hellish this was.
And then one day, my psychiatrist decided to change my medication again and this medication worked very well for me (I am still on it). Recovery was not easy, not a straight line and it did not happen overnight. I also found that exercise, regular exercise (6 days a week) was also very key for me. And this was not easy to get motivated to do AT ALL. But it worked. I'm now in a good routine. I've felt consistently not depressed for almost 2 years now. And by that I mean literally not one hiccup, not one small period of mild depression - nothing. The treatment has been working for about 3 years, but I had a few hiccups in that first year.
At first I was scared when I recovered. Because I realised I now loved life and I was, for the first time I
could remember, afraid of death. I had never even thought about death other than being something I desired, and now it terrified me. Every day I was afraid I would wake up and relapse. Now I don't worry so much about that either -every day I wake up not depressed I am grateful and accept it like a gift.
I know there's a chance I may relapse in future, but what would be the point on letting that ruin the
life I have now, the life I love and enjoy. Andrew Solomon said the opposite of depression isn't happiness, it's vitality and depression is a loss of that vitality in your life. My life now has vitality again.
I write this letter because I know the road is not easy and there feels like very little hope. Sometimes
you think because you have tried one or two treatments, nothing will ever work. I want to tell you that I struggled with depression for 9 years, I tried many different things and I felt like this. But I want you to know with every fibre of me that there is another side, and people do come out at it. People do recover from depression and live a life with meaning and I am so glad I did not take my own life like I thought about so many times. It was worth it, those 9 years, to have the life I now love.
All my love,Kirsty