I'm going against whatever judgment I have at this point to tell you part of my story.
I've been diagnosed with clinical depression this year. I've experienced symptoms of depression for over 20 years, but only recently have I sought medical help and therapy. I've tried a few different medications with varying degrees of success and have been seeing a counselor for the past few months, who has been very great. If you're considering seeing a therapist even for a few sessions, I'd recommend it. You may be looking for a few techniques to handle certain situations, coping skills to deal with anxiety or stress, or you may be looking for insight into why you see life through the lens you currently use. A good therapist can help with any or all of these in an environment without judgment while still holding you accountable to yourself.
During the last five or so years, I've tried most of what people suggest for situations like mine: exercise, positive self-talk, motivational books/podcasts, spiritual guidance, and plain old "suck it up and pull yourself up by your boot straps." I found temporary success in all of these options, but as time went on nothing really stuck. It was frustrating and I was difficult to live with. My work performance has suffered at times. There were periods where I didn't know what kind of employee I really was, what kind of husband I really was, what kind of friend I really was, or in the last few years what kind of father I really was. I isolated myself as far as my emotions were concerned and put on a happy face in public. This is a skill that I've honed over 20 years and it works on nearly everyone, including everyone in my family. Perhaps it works too well.
Of my own volition, I admitted myself to the hospital on Halloween of 2011. I've had suicidal ideations for years, but nothing progressed beyond that. In the last few weeks, ideations had turned into intent and intent had turned into planning. Then planning turned into a course of action and it was at that point that I decided to go to the hospital. At that point I felt that I had two options: suicide or the hospital. There was a little bit of light with the hospital option so I chose that one.
I arrived at the hospital at around six p.m. and was admitted to the adult psychiatric unit at a little after eight p.m., because at that point things were still mostly in my control and it took several minutes for me to make my decision. How much control was I willing to give up? I won't bore anyone with hospital talk, but I learned some important things about myself during that experience even though the treatment wasn't as helpful as I had hoped.
On Thursday, November 3rd I began what is called partial hospitalization treatment. It's basically an all-day outpatient therapy option. I'm in a session with about eight other people, all with unique problems and situations. I've learned something from every session, even though they're not all geared toward my own situation.
Last night and today, I'm struggling to accept that I have depression and anxiety disorder and what it can ultimately do to me. I know that it can bring me to the brink. I also know that I've experienced the symptoms for the last 20 years so this is not temporary and may follow me throughout my entire life. It was a bit easier to accept before I knew what to call it, when I thought it was just who I was. I didn't know any other experience, but now I know that there are perfectly happy and productive people out there that may not know what this feels like to the extent that I do. It's unfair.
It's unfair that I'll have to struggle with and manage this for another forty or fifty years. It's unfair that I may need to change medications an unknown number of times and deal with the side effects while wondering if it will "work." If anything will work. Now that I'm on medication to regulate my brain chemistry I'm supposed to try all of the techniques that I tried before again to find those that help me cope.
The power of positive thinking.
All over again, this time with two kids and a marriage that needs work. I have no idea how good I'm supposed to feel if or when this works. I guess I'll find out.