Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.
Depression can change or distort the way you see yourself, your life, and those around you. People who have depression usually see everything with a more negative attitude. They cannot imagine that any problem or situation can be solved in a positive way.
Symptoms of depression can also include:
Agitation, restlessness, and irritability, anger
Becoming withdrawn or isolated
Fatigue and lack of energy
Feeling hopeless and helpless, worthless, guilty, self-hate
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
Sudden change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss
Thoughts of death or suicide
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Reference: Pub Med
OK, let’s talk about depression. I bring it up because it is becoming a large part of my life and I am fighting the good fight, but I am not sure how many battles I have won or lost and the outcome of this war is very difficult to predict. Is there an end in sight? I guess we will have to wait and see.
I exhibit several of the above symptoms and the definition of major depression is all too familiar. They say chronic pain patients often experience depression. Psychologist and I have been working on something known as “acceptance and commitment” therapy. I was initially skeptical for several reasons. Mainly my resistance was coming from some small voice deep down telling me that only people who are really messed up need “therapy.” At the same time I was beginning my therapy journey towards acceptance and commitment Acupuncturist told me something that has stuck with me and really helped me through all of this: “Be open.”
Simple, right? Be open. Just be open to the idea of something new. See what it has to offer before dismissing it immediately. “OK, therapy,” I thought, “Let’s see what you got.”
I have worked through the book and discussed it with Psychologist along the way. I am coming up on the concluding chapter and I am not sure I am a success case for this therapy.
I have made my tweaks along the way. For example, I decided I didn’t like the term “acceptance.” In my mind this translated to something that always has a negative connotation. I decided I didn’t want to “accept” my pain as part of me, but I would instead “embrace” the fact that it was there.
Back to the depression and lack of success. So I have had my ups and downs throughout this whole process, as I am sure all chronic pain patients have. As of late, I have more downs than ups. Some for no real reason, hence the struggle with this “depression” thing. Therapy teaches you to take your “Acceptance” (embracing) one day or one event at a time. That was useful, but I am still struggling.
I have no motivation.
I have no desire.
I have no passion anymore.
I don’t know who I am, I don’t know what I am doing.
How do I recapture the joy and happiness in my life? Is it too far gone?
I struggle with some of the above symptoms, like irritability, lack of sleep, agitation, and worthlessness. I worry that these things will affect my close personal relationships. I worry that I will lose those closest to me whom I love. Every day I have thoughts of how I am not good enough to be loved by my partner. I wallow in the thought that he will leave me because I am miserable to be around.
I no longer see the light at the end of the road. I worry that it is no longer there. That I am stuck.
Fake it til you make it.
In a group session, one of the psychologist told us that a common treatment for depression is also a common treatment for chronic pain. FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT. Just pretend you are having fun, and eventually you will have fun again. Ok Doc. Easier said than done. Every day at work I try this. Let me tell you something– it is exhausting pretending you don’t want to just curl up in a ball and cry your eyes out. Not to mention the effort it takes not to burst into tears for no reason. I almost cried at my desk twice today. For no reason. Just sitting there, fighting back tears.