When You’re REALLY Depressed: 7 Ways to Manage Severe Depression

rain umbrellaSomeone recently said to me, “Your tips are fine for those who struggle with mild to moderate depression. But what about if you can’t get out of bed you’re so depressed? What would you say to those who are really ill? She’s absolutely right. Suggestions to improve one’s mood and to pursue healthy living should vary from tips on how to stop crying. I understand that merely getting through the day is an act of triumph when you are buried in the deep hole of depression. Since I have been there, more than once–where staying alive consumes all of your energy–I thought I’d share with you what has helped me.

1. Just keep going

My mom once told me, “You can’t wait for the storm to be over, you have to learn how to dance in the rain.” That is appropriate for a day, week, or lifetime weighted down by severe depression. Dancing in the rain demands perseverance and courage—going forward despite the evidence of difficulty and forecast of doom. It means not ending your life, even as death appears to be the only and ultimate relief. It requires the kind of courage that Mary Anne Radmacher describes when she says, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” And it is “fear holding on a minute longer” (George Patton).

2. Breathe

You can do this from bed. You can even do it in between crying sessions. All I do is count to five while inhaling, and count to five while exhaling. If you do this slowly, you will breathe about five times a minute, which is called coherent breathing, associated with a strong stress-response system. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms down the sympathetic nervous system that’s totally wigging out, responsible for a fight-or-flight response. If you spend even five minutes breathing from your diaphragm, you will feel a tad calmer. Not totally transformed. But capable of a few logical thoughts.

3. Go gentle

Anyone who has ever been locked up in a psych ward knows the sting of the stigma attached to mental disorders. And as much as positive psychology studies and holistic philosophies can help, the person with severe depression ends up feeling that much more defeated. “If I can’t change the neuroplasticity of my brain … If I can’t remedy my depression with Omega 3 fatty acids … If yoga doesn’t make me feel calm … If mindful meditation makes me angry … then I am even that much more of a failure.” I know. I’ve been there. Which is why I think it’s crucial to be gentle—REALLY gentle–with yourself, and to talk to yourself as you would someone you admire and respect. My dialogue goes something like this “You are doing great, considering you are up against this severe illness. Every day you are climbing an incredibly steep mountain, but you are doing it! Your aunt took her life because of this pain—it’s so bad that it kills people, lots of people–but you are managing to be somewhat productive. You haven’t given up yet. You haven’t taken your life today. You are strong.”

4. Stop trying

When I was right out of the hospital, I devoured self-help books because I was in a hurry to get better. But they all made me feel worse. Finally, my doctor asked me to stop reading, that it was inhibiting my recovery. Her advice was grounded in neuroscience. Here’s the thing. Refined brain imaging shows us that when non-depressed people try to retrain their thoughts, or reframe negative emotions, they are often successful. The brain activity responsible for negative emotions in the amygdala (fear center of the brain) decreases. However, when depressed people try this, the activity increases. Their efforts backfire. The more they try, the more activation in the amygdala. So just stop trying for now.

5. Read Styron

Hope is your lifeline. Without it, depressed people die. Almost a million of them around the world every year. Fear and hope are intertwined says Baruch Spinoza: “Fear cannot be without hope, nor hope without fear.” Whenever I descend into the frightening black hole of depression, I read this paragraph of hope from William Styron’s classic, “Darkness Visible”:

If depression had no termination, then suicide would, indeed, be the only remedy. But one need not sound the false or inspirational note to stress the truth that depression is not the soul’s annihilation; men and women who have recovered from the disease–and they are countless–bear witness to what is probably its only saving grace: it is conquerable.

I also repeat this mantra to myself: “I WILL get better. I WILL get better. I WILL get better” until it soaks in.

6. Distract yourself

The best therapy for the severely depressed is distraction. Engross yourself in any activity that can keep your mind off the pain—just as you would if you were healing from a hip or knee replacement. I am unable to read when I’m depressed, so I make phone calls, even as it’s hard to follow a conversation. My depressed friends do all kinds of activities to keep their brains active: scrapbooking, crossword puzzles, gardening, watching movies, purging the house of all non-essentials, rearranging the furniture, or painting the bathroom.

7. Revisit your strengths

This is not your glory hour. But you’ve had several in the past. Remember those. If you don’t have the energy to get a piece of paper and write them down, at least recall those moments of which you are most proud. For example, the hardest thing I have ever accomplished—and the one for which I am most proud—is not taking my life in the two years of suicidal depression in 2005 and 2006. And I managed to stay sober throughout the pain. Those accomplishments continue to carry me through rough patches today. I know that I have it in me not to give up.

Originally published on “Sanity Break” at Everyday Health.

photo credit: favim.com

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131 thoughts on “When You’re REALLY Depressed: 7 Ways to Manage Severe Depression

  1. I like your blog it’s direct and well writing. I don’t suffer from depression but don’t know how to help my daughters who are suffer from depression. How do I as a mother help my adult daughter? One has estranged us & the family. Does depression cause estrangement?

    1. Depression is not the same for everyone. Estrangement or isolation is something I can identify with as a person with severe depression for most of my life. For me, I am so ashamed during my depression when I cannot function that I convince myself that I am an embassessemt to my family and I want to isolate myself from them to protect them from the shame. Since I am a male , my inability to hold employment for long periods of time has made our family life very difficult for many years financially.
      I self willed, to recover much better when I was a young man, but when my children became teenagers my struggle with depression, anxiety and PTSD cost us my good job with benefits and the stigma of a mental hospital stay. I lost my confidence, my security clearance, my ability to provide and the respect of family that I always took for granted. God has provided for us and I continue to work as long as I can. It is a cruel cycle of recovery, employment, depression and anxiety and unemployment. I lasted six months at my last job and had to quit because I can’t handle high stress before the depression sets in. After years of medicine trials and untold amounts of money, I found no medicine that effectively works on me. I hope you can and I hope my sharing with you helps your family members in pain.

          1. To the statement there is no God …
            Maybe there is a God…maybe not. It’s often hard to rationalize a God that would have let the things that happened to me while growing up. But I choose to believe maybe I went through Hell so that someone I loved would in turn be saved.

          2. Amen – tongue firmly in cheek here. “God” is nothing more than a “crutch” for the weak.
            It is pitiful to see grown adults trying to make sense of their pain, by blaming some “devil”, or declaring it all to be “part of god’s plan”. Time to stand on your own two feet, folks, and throw away the crutches – BAD THINGS HAPPEN BECAUSE THEY CAN; they always have, and always will. There is no “guy in the sky” with a grand plan. And, as for “prayer”… Well, it’s a lot like gambling… Everyone loves to crow about the “wins”, but nobody ever talks about the “loses”. Some time things just “are” in life, and you have to accept them. But, whatever you need to tell yourself to get you through the day, eh? As for me – the lord is NOT my shepherd, for I am not a sheep.

          3. God is there. It’s OK for now that you deny him. U will get a chance to repent. He will forgive you. Just close your eyes and ask him to show himself to u. He will. He loves you !!!

          4. Whether you believe in God or not, you do not need to try to crush someone else or belittle them for their belief. Your hateful stated opinions are not changing anything for the better. So, why don’t you stop trying to bully someone else and find something positive and uplifting to post. I am sure somewhere inside of you, there is something kind, considerate and appropriate to uplift others with. Find it!

          5. Whether you believe in God or not, it’s unnecessary and rude to bring it up anywhere other than church. Shoving your nonsense down the throats of anyone who will listen, especially in their time of need us horrible. If you believe in God, and that he will give everyone a chance to repent, then let him do that. I for one will not want to repent, simply because people like this beat me over the head with it every 2 hours for my whole life.

          6. Think what you may. But one thing is for certain, there is a “you”. And the amazing body and soul that was given to each of us was NOT an accident. I hope someday you realize that only one omnipotent God created you and loves you, even if you haven’t picked up on all the evidence around you and within you that He exists.

      1. You are not alone Jeff and I wish you nothing but the best. It is in no way, shape, form or fashion your fault. It’s not like you asked to be cursed with it. I hope and pray that treatment that can actually prevent it is discovered. As you know, there is a huge difference in “the blues” and severe depression. As different as night and day. With technology so advanced and improving on a literal daily basis thanks to something called “nano technology” (sic?) it’s just a matter of time. I would give anything if it were TODAY ! Good luck Jeff and always remember you are not alone. Your sharing helped me. For other peoples sake, I wish was the only one but it helps to know I am not.

      2. Oh, man, you are singing my song. I feel so embarrassed at having severe depression again and having lost my two part-time teaching jobs which I loved. I had the respect and friendship of many of my colleagues. I loved teaching. My depression is PTSD based as well, and has occurred several times. I am ill now, and this time it had been 16 years since the last episode. I am disappointed, and heartbroken. My husband worries about me and it is hard all around. I am interested in how you connect with other people when this is happening. I feel so isolated, and I am used to having a very busy social life. I hope you are getting better.The best I can do is to try to listen and give feedback when I am with a friend and want to maintain the connection, and not feel so lost and alone. I seem not capable of initiating ideas, discussion, etc. Many tv shows actually scare me, and they are not intended to be scary. It just feels like I am on the outside of things. I thank you for your comment, it was sincere and I could feel everything. The losing employment is devastating. Hearing people say, “but you are so smart, so talented,” Just leaves me feeling like a real, well, I don’t know….

        1. Hi Stephanie,
          I seriously never comment on anything but something you said really spoke to me and on the chance that you see this, I wanted for you to know that you’re not alone.
          What you mentioned about being scared by shows that aren’t even scary, I’ve never seen anyone write that/heard anyone say that but I completely feel the same way and was so surprised to see that I wasn’t the only one. I always felt like no one would ever understand if I admitted that I felt that way, especially because I barely understand it myself, but I completely relate 100%.
          If you’d ever like to email, maybe it would help us both to have someone to talk to. I absolutely understand if you don’t, I have become so unsocial over the last year that I’ve honestly isolated myself from every person I used to see except for my husband because he lives with me, haha. So I get how hard it can be to even text or email someone. But I’ll keep an eye out for a reply from you just in case. :)
          For now, just know that you’re not alone and someone out there understands you, more than you know. I really wish the best for you, and I’m so thankful to you for sharing what you did and helping me realize I’m not the only one. <3
          Lisette

          1. Lisette, I would like to communicate. My email is smassieclark@q.com. I really understand what you are saying. I have just now figured out how to reply to a post; I am cognitively impaired because of the depression, and it took me a long time to figure this out. You are welcome to contact me by email. I wish the best for you, too. Keep on keeping on, and tell me how it is going. Steph

          2. Also, does this mean my email is now all over the place? I am not sure how to go about this at all. I may have posted my email to everyone. I did not intend to. If someone can help me figure this out, I would appreciate it.

      3. I am in severe depression…in between I have completely stop my food..and I have lost my sleep for more than 3month…I am scared however I try to angross. Myself in some work at home.but once the work is over I go back into same thoughts…I feel to end my self..however I am a mother of 7 year child..prior I used to go to work..pleace give me advise how to come out of depression…or else I will turn mad….

        1. Pallavi, Please hang on. I feel for you so much. I have had episodes of severe depression while my kids were young, and I felt so awful because I was not fully present for them. Here are a couple of things I know helped during that time: I would hold them and hug them, and I would read stories to them every night before bed. I would attempt playing, but could not keep my mind on whatever we were doing. Your child needs you even if it feels like half of you is not there. You are important. I am thinking this depression will end, but it may take time. And please do not believe you are less of a person. You are still in there, more than you know. Are you getting medication? Yes, losing sleep is awful, awful
          Go to your doctor and get something to at least help you sleep. And do you have any friends who can understand? It is not your fault. Please feel free to contact me at smassieclark@q.com. It was hard for my brain to figure out how to reply on this site. I was very confused by all the different options.

        2. You are going to ruin you son life with your depression, try to get involved with the school of your child, and ask yourself what is it that you want out of this life? Your child should give you all the happiness that you need, the rest will follow, take him to the zoo, and try to enjoy it, the parks, for me those were the best years of my life, going to the cinema. Trying to help you, is making me feel much better. I know what my depression is but I can’t seem to fix the problem because it’s all bits of problems from when I was little, and they just added up, now I’m trying to get rid of one thing at the time. It’s very hard.

      4. Jeff, I totally relate. It’s like looking in the mirror. I’m 61 and have suffered from severe depression since I am 24. I suspect I was even depressed as a child. But all the medication I’ve tried, presently and for the past 20 years an MAO inhibitor, in a way make it worse. The weight gain makes my self-esteem even lower than it’s been. I, too, have had periods of employment and unemployment. I haven’t tried to work as more than a freelancer or temp for 20 years. Worse, no one really “gets it,” despite years of treatment, therapy, and self-loathing. I have a 13-year-old dog I would not leave, but I fear that when she dies, I will commit suicide. Not so bad.

        1. I too have done the employment unemployment dance. I am currently employed and my finances are worst than ever. I told myself that my elderly dog was my only reason for living. Now my dog(Iggy) lost use of his rear legs. I am very depressed and this is very difficult to make it through a day. Thanks for your post

          1. Dan I saw your post and am hoping that you have reached out to someone. Dont lose hope because even if it feels hopeless at the moment, things can and do get better. You have felt happy before and you can and will feel happy again.

      5. Hi Jeff,
        I can appreciate what you are going through. I remember being able to deal with stressors as a young person. But it seems that as I grew older and the responsibilities and realities of life set in more and more, the accompanying stress has forced my into several horrifying bouts of depression. It can be work stress, loss of a loved one or seeing aweful events in war. It just takes one strong trigger to expose what seems to be a physiological short coming or tendency. I’ve tried many different medications but nothing can stop the bouts of horrendous torture that is depression. As a man, I feel all the same things you do: Embarressment, shame and lots of fear. I had a great childhood, I have a loving wife and healthy kids. But when work stress really sets in, none of these things matter. It’s like an inevitable downhill slide into a fiery abyss. The mornings are especially bad. In the evenings my brain luckily shows me some mercy and I can reasonably enjoy things or at least have some peace. I see many people whose life circumstances are far worse than mine, but they can still smile and laugh while I can not. At any rate, you are not alone. I look forward to the time when my current episode passed. Whenever that is. Good luck to you and all those in this forum
        Andreas

      6. I am frustrated that I am still depressed after now 5 months. At least I do not have the agitation. So that is better. Are there others out there that are doing a long tour of duty with depression? I get frustrated, feel ashamed, and battle against isolation. Hard to find things to fill up the time because I am easily overwhelmed if anything gets complex. That may sound odd, but I am bored because I cannot do the comple. Tasks that used to totally absorb me. Medication and therapy helps, but not enough. As in the past episodes I have to find my way through the maze never knowing when or if it will end.

        1. Have you talk to your doctor? I myself battle depression. I have been on many medications over the years. There was a lot of trial and error before I found one that worked and seem to make a real difference in my day-to-day life. Over the past few months I have been struggling again I feel like it will never end however I know I need to talk to my doctor and see what medication may be added to my daily regimen to get rid of this feeling. I to struggle if something is too complex. It is overwhelming. Especially when it’s something that really isn’t complex. But simple things are just too much sometimes. I’ve become shut off from situations and people. The holidays can make it worse in my opinion. Just make sure you let your doctor know maybe they could add something or adjust something to help you. I know it feels like you’re starting from scratch but there are other things out there that might help.. trust me I know all this but I myself am dreading the experience of trying new meds and trial and error of seeing what will help, but I’m obviously not coming out of this funk on my own. some times I can ,but it’s been a long time since I felt this hopeless for so long. I hope things are getting better for you just remember there are other people out there just like you.

          1. Yes I have talked to my Doctor been through rounds of medication. Mirtazipine helps but does not get me functional
            Enough to work. I am going to try generic Deplin, Methlypro soon. Thanks for responding.

    2. As one who suffers from deep depression and is medication resistant here are the things I appreciate when I’m sick Just being with me, no pressure like watching a movie. Please don’t try to counsel me or fix my depression it is insulting and makes me angry and defensive. I need a friend. You can’t talk me out of suicidal thoughts but your presence helps immensely.

      I once went to a friend’s house because she had a loaded gun and was suicidal. We just sat, watched TV
      and talked about it insignificant things. It wasn’t chatty but kind of a quietness. After a couple of hours she went into her bedroom and gave me the gun. I didn’t try and convince her, she called for help so I figured she was open to giving me the gun if I didn’t make an issue of it. She has schizo affective disorder do it could have been dangerous. Things wouldn’t have gone well if I had gotten her angry

      Please don’t try and be my counselor. Some have tried and it is most unpleasant. In the end the message is always the same – if only you had done this. Sure there are things you can do that can prevent depression from escalating and over the years I have developed a lot of tools. I still suffer from depression and probably always will, during the past 10 years I have not”normal” for more than 2 months at a time. I have bipolar.

      I tell my friends that have mental illness because I know they will understand and won’t try to fix me, they have been there. That’s support for me. You are not responsible to fix me. Let the doctors do that, just hang out with me

      That may sound too easy but it is what I need

      1. Wow. That says it all. I have never heard anyone describe the social aspect of dealing with depression so well. I wish there was some kind of hang out place, like a depressed people’s day care in my town where we could have your thoughts put into rules on the wall. Thanks.

        1. My closest friends know of my saddest and depression, even my GP has suggested that I need to address my situational stress. Would like a place to go where we are not judged. I’m having to manage my depression on my own and Therese’s blog helps so much.

      2. thank you for being open as reading your blog has been a start for me coping with this very challanging disease or whatever this big deep hole of depression should be called

      3. Thanks for your blog Therese and for this post Mac. It is helpful for me as my adult daughter, who has treatment resistant depression is with me after being rejected by her husband. She previously spent over a year in deep depression, then was better, then her family started to distance themselves from her and she is spiraling down again. I have been with her through many treatments, researching insurance, searching for facilities and still want to “help” without being too overbearing or under-bearing. I have learned to “hang out” with her but am devastated about not finding solutions. We are seeking help but the right therapist or program seems so rare. She doesn’t want to “go on” like this and I fluctuate about going to emergency or just supporting and caring for her.

    3. It absolutely does cause estrangement. You beat yourself down and the last thing you want to do is be around other people when doing so. Real or not depression gives you a feeling of I am not worthy, I will will be judged if I mess up today. I am afraid of people today. It is safer to stay in bed. I can’t stand messing up one more time. If that’s not estrangement nothing is. The more you stay away from people the worse you feel, but it’s still there. You can’t help it but you don’t know what to do about it.

  2. I discovered that the more depressed I became, the more I focused on the depression. I not only felt sad, I was thinking about being sad. My best strategy was what you pointed out in number 6 of your post. I quit thinking about how sad I was, and slowly, I began to see some hope. I’m looking forward to that hope turning into acceptance and peace of mind. I distracted my mind by not allowing to keep thinking about how sad I was, and how badly I wanted to be better NOW. Some days, I did absolutely nothing, except striving to focus on something other on the sadness.

  3. Your comment on self-help books is interesting (and mirrors my own experience over the past 25 years). I find that when I am depressed I have to be conscious of everything I read as I find that even the most innocuous books on politics and economics, to pick two examples of many, can sometimes trigger the wrong kind of ruminative thinking. I have never heard my reaction framed in neuroscientific terms, but I was struck when reading your explanation how often I have come away from dipping into the most well-meaning books on dealing with/overcoming depression confused and unhappier than I was before.

  4. Good one Therese. I will just add two: “One breath at a time”…..don’t trust a single thought you have and just one breath at a time. Oh, call your doctor to request something that will MAKE you sleep. We aren’t supposed to endure uninterrupted agony. Okay, three: sob your brains out if you are able.

    1. Don’t trust a single thought.,,,
      Thank you for this insight.

      My sadness overwhelms me and my thoughts come from a dark place.

      My father suffered from severe depression all of his life. My sister and I have found that as we grow older our depression deepens and symptoms mimics our father’s.

  5. Thank you for these reminders. I, like others who have already posted, have focused so much on being sad (sometimes I feel like depression makes me the most self centered person since all I can think about is me and how depressed I am) and not enough on distracting myself. I also appreciate the “permission” to stop reading all the self-help books in the futile hope that eventually ONE of them will finally work for me! Thank you for sharing your pain with us and helping us to keep moving forward.

    1. I can’t seem to shake this. Im recently retired and feel I have no purpose. I do volunteer at a soup kitchen 3 days a week n I am able to get up and go there. But days I’m not there, I just want to stay in bed n not have any contact w anyone. My daughter asks me to do things n I too feel shes embarrassed by me. So I say no.im drinking almost everyday not alot but still drinking. Im recovering alcoholic so this kind of scares me too. That makes me more depressed. I feel invisible so much of the time. Im on antidepressants for prob 20 yrs now. I don’t know what to do

  6. I agree with everything you said. I found self-help books benefcial but timing was everything. God bless you Theresa and I hope you are doing much better. Merry Christmas

  7. Your suggestions are quite helpful. The “stop trying” especially rung true because your books are the only ones I can read about depression without feeling worse than ever. My website is a blog where I try to give some baby-steps toward recovery, or at least remission but I’m having a lot of trouble writing those lately.

    Would you take a look at my blog and give me suggestions? Several of my “steps” are the same as your “12 Steps” in your book, BEYOND BLUE but I swear I had them before I read any of your writing.

    I’m 55 and post menopausal and my biggest problem lately seems to be apathy. I don’t care about much, including whether I bathe or not (usually not). Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

      1. I just read Styron’s ” Darkness Visible” in it entirety in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down. Throughout the entire book, I felt as though there was hope, hope that this will be over, but moreso that I’ve touched a place that most never have. I’ve stepped into the pit and will hopefully make my way out. I’ve faced my Shadow and absorbed it. Made it part of me. Thank you for the suggestion.

  8. Therese- My MDD/TRD knows on end in 30+ years. Positive thinking for a person suffering from severe TRD is akin to telling a terminal cancer patient to just “will and breath” their cancer away. Science knows that won’t work. Suicide can address TRD. Psych wards do not; they only cause us to live another day of pain and that is human cruelty. We end the lives of our pets yet revolt if a human wishes the same for themselves.

    The monoamine theory is long proven wrong. ref.: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4172306/.

    MDD/TRD is a “cancer of our minds” and cannot be treated with any statistical backing from “Big-Pharma”. Follow the $ while we wish to die.

    1. Esther, I am no expert by any means but I have read certain strains with very low to zero THC but high CBD(or just CBD oil) can help many with depression and anxiety. Look for strains that are very low to zero THC and high CBD levels (this level cannot always be guaranteed 100% exact but is usually accurate or very close from my research). The info is on the web, Do your research and if you decide to try it, try it slowly, in very small increments Marijuana is no different from any other drug. as far the results can vary from one person to another. Good luck, I hope and pray it helps if you try it. I am seriously considering it myself. It is now available in edibles, candy, oil etc to avoid having to smoke it. Laws vary from state to state.

  9. I dont. Want to get better that is, i desperatly want to want to, and i guess you could say i do, the best way to describe it is i dont want to get better, i want to be better if that makes any sense. I used to, i used to try, at some point i couldnt so i didnt, i used to cry, now i just lay in it, with disgust and hate for myself. Ive never wanted to commit suicide, only because i dont believe in it, its not that im religious, theres so many people fighting and i guess the reason is guilt, that and my girl, when im with her she makes me happy, and to me thats a huge term, i rarely have the feeling without her, she knows i have it but she doesnt know how bad it gets sometimes, i have no reason to be depressed but when i think of that i just get more depressed. The main reason im even typing this is because i read part of this and i started tearing up and idk why or what it means but to me it meant something

  10. I do not even have the energy to engage in an activity right now. The best I’ve been able to do is write and send cards to people and to prisoners. But I can’t even clean my apartment, or exercise, or barely get out of bed. I just want to die right now.

    1. I think that you should put on some music that you like and start cleaning and dance and sing while you clean, it helps me but if they are too sentimental and remind me of things then I cry, but I take deep breath and keep on going and some things get done, then I might go back to feeling sorry for my self.
      I feel so alone, we came to Australia when I was only 11 years old, had to leave everything behind, my beautiful dolls.half of my heart is still there.
      Now that I’m going to be 60 I feel I done everything that I was born for, and I feel I have nothing to live for, anymore, my husband hips useless, and that is one of my major problems, the more he’s around the more depressed I feel.

    1. I feel like Adrian. My fifth go around with this demon, and unfortunately, it gets worse with each pass. I am happy in between the terror, more than most maybe. Each one feels never ending, this one more so than the others. To hate everything in the world so much, especially yourself is such agony its indescribable.

  11. Actually have to fix my name. It’s really Martha. But I’ve been crying my eyes out every day. Sorry. I already suffer depression. Then I lost my dad. My youngest son started showing symptoms of severe mental illness. Then, at age 20, on 1/4/16, he sliced his neck open. He wanted to stop hearing voices. He would deny hearing any at first. 4 hour surgery, 40 day hospital stay with trach tube and feeding tube and psychosis and trying to hurt himself. They diagnosed him with schizophrenia. I was running between Ohio and FL while he was in the hospital. Then he came to live with my husband and me on 2/12/16. Total chaos. I was running him here and there. Trying to get disability for him so he could have insurance. Meanwhile he was Bakker Acted into 3 more psych crisis units. 2 times were for a month at a time. Then, it all stopped when he was arrested on 7/28/16. He’s been in county jail for 7 months now. I’ve been fighting for him to get treatment- the squeaky wheel. But he was my youngest of four. So, all of a sudden I am by myself. All I did to help my son and he didn’t get the help he needed. I fell apart. I have not been the same since his arrest. No one understands that. I can’t get back to being able to function. For 7 months I have not cleaned, shopped, cooked, barely shower or leave the apartment. I only force myself to go to court dates and visit him 3X weekly via a monitor. He just turned 22 in jail. He’s drugged up and sedated. I’m grieving his death even though he didn’t die. How can I get out of this hole. I’ve chased everyone away from me because I’m so sad. My oldest daughter has blocked me out of her life and the lives of my granddaughters. My heart is broken in millions of pieces. Life is not worth living. I have two other children in Ohio; a son and a daughter. My daughter will talk when she can. She’s just super busy now. My son has never liked talking much. My son in jail calls every day. I often cry after talking to him. I’m so broken. He should not have lived – then he would not be suffering how he is. I should not be alive either as I’m good for no one. Every day is a battle. I’m such a failure. Wish God would take me in my sleep tonight!!

    1. This is sad for me to read. My son is 17 but has problems. I am very protective of him. He has problems, reading and writing. He just wants to play games, which is the only thing he feels good at I believe. I feel like a failure. He is afraid of other people as am I. It stinks always worried that I am being judged by people. My son is the same way. Disability learning, and mental runs in my family. I see it in me and I hate that my son has it. I want him to be what everyone sees as normal, but I don’t think he ever will be.

  12. Plus I lost my dog, they changed my meds and I put on 35 pounds within a few months and no clothes fit. I’m a big fat mess.

      1. Please know that you are loved. Your story breaks my heart. I pray that God comforts you and works miraculous changes for you. Open your heart to Jesus. He is the answer. I will pray for you. You’re not alone. Please accept my concern. You have a lot to offer the world. There are people in your life that care and that need you. Please try and hold on. You are worth it.

  13. I know something positive can help me move out a depression. I don’t say ‘my depression’ because I don’t want to claim it. Slight distresses in life will bring me way lower than they should so I go out of my way to avoid the tv or radio news, news papers, social settings with unknown personalities, work situations with persons of unstable emotional maturity, etc. I feel all of this work should show positive results, and it would if not for the uninvoted childhood memories of the variety of abuse I received from both my parents. I’ve tried to help myself with self help books, and they HAVE helped, I understand now that the majority of my parents’ abuse of me was not that they wanted to abuse a kid and cause irreversible emotional damage. Their abuse of me was the outlet each needed in their own hour of severe emotional distress. Bummer for me. Now that they’re older, their kids are grown and gone, their bills are under control, their incomes have stabalized, their personal relationship has grown to a friendship type. I’m happy for them since they needed to eventually get to a happy place. So now I understand how and why they sucked as parents but I don’t know what to do with me. I used to keep my eyes on my duties as a parent to my own children and would live everyday with that goal in mind to keep me going. Now they are grown, independant and doing well. My grandchildren are healthy and mostly happy. I remarried less than 2 years ago to a man that is very good to me. We are loving and kind to each other and keep a half decent and clean home together. Almost everyday I have at least one childhood memory that knocks the wind out of my sails and throws me to the floor, emotionally. Last night I realized how bad I need help getting out of the depression since I spent the majority of the day imagining the relief I would feel once death is upon me. I’m 50/50 in wanting to live or not because I love myself but I can’t stop the memories from coming. Different things trigger one or more memories so it’s not like I’m sitting around evaluating my childhood, inducing memories. I’ve done all I know to do to help myself and I’m so tired. Death would be kind but if it’s not coming anytime soon, I need to do something for myself so I don’t go any further down this path of self destruction that I’ve found I’m beginning. I’ve already quit my job and today, at 12:47pm, I’m still in my nightgown as I write this. Someone please help me help myself.

    1. When you said that you are knocked out emotionally by at least one childhood memory a day – that resonated loudly. I always feel like I’m not trying hard enough to forget or not think about the things that happened to me, but then I hear a bus in the distance or the kettle boiling and it’s all over red rover- so to speak.
      I figure, i only get one life I might as well try to live it my way. And that might mean living in the same pair of jammies and not showering for weeks on end. I do what ever it takes to get through another day, and maybe, just maybe, make a good memory to go in with all the shitty ones. I will not be ashamed and I will not be guilty, of how I survive another day.

      Peace out xo

    2. My two daughters are all grown up now and gone. When I miss them what makes me happy is when I focus on that they are happy now, and that helps me feel better even though they are so far away. I still get lonely however. I pray to Jesus for strength. A lot of times Jesus helps me out of bed in the morning. I try to focus on helping others and trying to give. Sometimes it helps to think of when I am helping others and being needed for their service it helps me feel better about myself. It doesn’t work if I fail others. But U need to forgive me for not always being able to be there for them. That is the hardest thing to do.

  14. I am depressed. I have no family or friends. I was married 20 years and my family was all I needed. Now divorced…kids are grown and don’t need me any longer I’m struggling with bills and ra rely have food in the house my car is about to break down. I’m still in horrible debt after divorce so no credit at all I just want to sleep all the time to not think about anything I don’t want to get out of bed to go to work I have to force myself to get up. I cry everyday because I’m just miserable and I have panic attacks constantly and I’m on medicone and have been for 10 years or more for anxiety. I have to take something to help me sleep every night and when weekend comes I’m so happy just to get to stay in my room in my bed and literally sleep the whole weekend in order not to think about my problems.

    1. Your problems will not go away if you sleep, you need to get up face your problems be strong and on a piece of paper write down what you can do to solve them. Believe me it will make you stronger, even if you cry when you do it. Anger and strength is what makes you go through life, I know all this, but at the moments it’s all other different feeling that are getting me down, sometime I think the medication make me weaker.
      I have taken swimming lessen, I was terrified of the water, a way to punish myself, and keep my mind busy, well it worked I’m nearly there learning and getting over the fear of water, but unfortunately the day goes on and I’m always trying to find things to do but I still cry.

    2. Hardest thing to do is face our fears. When someone hurts us, it frightens us to the point we feel we cannot find someone else who could love or care for us again. No matter who it is. I think you suffer as I have suffered from wanting someone to take care of. I want someone to love me but I am afraid of getting too close to them. Thevfear keeps you from going out and finding new people to associate with. Sometimes too people are too h7sy to have time for us. It might be a good idea to go looking for people who are as lonely as you. This will be scary as hell but I believe well worth the effort. The first step is the first step. Take a baby step to look for other people who are hurting. I find when I help others I am helping myself. Jesus helps me with my fear everyday. It is not easy though letting others in for me.

  15. the tentacles of depression have slowly wrapped themselves around me. i dropped out of 9th grade then became a lawyer. my family completely rejected it as none had ever even graduated from high school. my mother, who i hated, recently died. my brother stole all the estate and now i find myself fixated on the messy family. my depression has made it almost impossible to earn a living and so i have drank heavily for last several years. i need to get up or get out.

    1. Here are some websites that have helped me:
      http://accessiblepsychology.com/best-resources/back-from-the-bluez/
      https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression.htm
      http://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-priebe/2015/11/26-ways-to-take-your-life-back-when-youre-broken/

      I was extremely angry with my mother both before and after she died. If you want to read my blog post about that, go to https://jewelammons.wordpress.com/. You might also want to check out my website/most-recent-blog (above) to read something I wrote to my son back in January this year — you can pretend you’re my son/daughter for a while if you want.

  16. I have severe depression, and I’m suicidal. since i been 8 years old. I’m 37 now. Everything u talked about in ur post is me, except the coffee part, I don’t drink coffee.

    I want to end my life because I don’t belong here, I feel like I’m a waste of space put on this earth! thru story, just literally over exhausted..please help!

      1. Therese, could you write up some simple instructions for using the blog? I don’t know if it is my depressed brain but it is hard for me to figure things out like how to reply to a post. I tried to reply to a post and it locked up my browser. Probably because I opened the email notification, and tried to reply there. I am learning, but there may be others like myself that need a simple list of how to use the blog. Wow. Depression can really make tasks difficult.

    1. We are not here just for fun but to keep the world going, you should de glad you were born, because there is nothing apart this, I have decided to see this life through because it’s the best thing that has happened to us.
      Living this life regardless the pain is a fantastic thing, and if it wasn’t for the pain we didn’t exist. Look around you and enjoy what you see, the sky the sea the sound, sit and have a nice cake and coffee, and look around you smile even if you don’t want to, the trees the flowers everything is beautiful, there is nothing where we go after all this, take deep breaths and walk and enjoy, forza yourself to enjoy it. It wont last long.. all this worked for me, now I’m going through something different that I’m trying to work on.

  17. What do you do when you get to the point all you think about is the when and how’s of the end. Its been so bad for so long I already have given up, the only part of me still alive is my beating heart and functioning lungs, everything else is dead. When you get to this point, why would I carry on, why would I want to. I forgot to state that my son was murdered 5 years ago, I died the same day mentally and emotionally, what’s broken inside me CANNOT be fixed. Everyone says it selfish to kill ones self, I say it selfish to force someone to go on this way, they are not inside me now do the know or feel the the daily pain, nightmares, lack of interest in everything, the struggle to wake up, the struggle to sleep, the hole in my heart. Sometimes I pray that someone would just hold my hand as I slip away, I think that’s all I am seeking and need.

  18. I had reached out at one point to anyone I could, friends either ran or turned on me. My mother contacted law enforcement ( for suicide reasons) who showed up at my house, 6 cops tackled me, one choked me til I almost passed out then handcuffed me and took me to a locked facility ( hospital psych ward) where they told me ” we are not here to speak to you or counsel you, just watch you”. I was then released and set up with counseling with a psychologist office in my area ( the only one) I always showed up hoping to find help, some kind of path forward, til the day he said ” you have such serious depression and damage, I am not qualified to help you”. Wow, talk about feeling hopeless, that did it, completely for me. Maybe I should have also mentioned, bringing cops in to rough me up didn’t help, I wasn’t even fighting or resisting with them. AND the cops were the ones who murdered my unarmed, scared, not resisting son. 20 years old. Love you Andrew, see you soon buddy :(…..

  19. I am depressed. I failed for a subject in my undergraduate course. My father won’t talk to me as I hid the truth. He is very strict. I was afraid and so didn’t tell anything about my failure. Now he won’t talk to me. My course is over and I’m waiting for my results. But it is time I go for a job or higher studies. He doesn’t let me go out nor does he trust me. I know it is my fault but how long is this going to be this way. I’m crying and dying everyday. Cannot bare the pain of being locked up. I don’t even have a mobile nor the permission to call my friends. I hardly speak to my family properly. I have nobody to open up and cry.

    Somebody please help me!

    1. I’ve had MDD now for 20 years , I read the blog today and several stories here have touched me deeply. There is one beautiful thing I have come to learn from hanging out in this world ,,,,,, depressed people are kind people,,, gifted with a stronger sensitivity for others suffering than an average person .
      It’s my belief that because we are this way, we are devastated when good karma doesn’t shine upon us like we expect it should. I’ve learned that the best people more often than not, are subject to the worst luck. I myself have had to remind myself daily about unfairness in my own life doesn’t mean I’m not allowed the right to be happy. For me , I have to block out resentments and blame of others from my mind because the list is a extremely long one!!! I bet anyone reading this is somewhat saying,, ‘ hell yes!’
      My long drawn out point is,,,” I have every right to do what I need to do to get to a happier place in life” , once I’m honest and confess what I truly truly want , I can most of the time find small steps to get to it. But I stay at a standstill in misery if I focus on all that was and is still f bombed up.
      Sometimes I literally stop in my yard and pull a flower to my face, to really look at how beautiful it is,, just to remind me I don’t have to be rich to have something so perfect. It helps.
      For the people like Carol I read about, I think if you are honest with yourself you can figure out your true gift or passion in life and do not let your father or other roadblocks stop u from getting on your true path.
      Sometimes controlling people around us like your dad are just trying to make sure u succeed; ignore the evil part from them and succeed by not getting caught up in the drama created by keeping your eye on your heart’s true prize; personal long-term independence and doing whatever it is that makes u smile inside.

      1. I really relate to this blog and these comments. I’m a 20 year old single mother with a 1 year old and struggling. I don’t remember much from my childhood but I know that I have always felt like an outsider and still do. I know that I’ve had depression for years but since having my daughter and realising I have no support from “family” and no friends, it has become so severe that every day I wake up I’m just waiting for the day to end. Since having her I’ve had a few jobs but due to being unable to afford childcare costs, she was suspended from nursery forcing me to leave work. At this point in my life, I feel like I have lost myself completely. I don’t socialise, I struggle to get outside (I only do it for my daughters sake), and have been financially struggling ever since I can remember. I do everything for my daughter with no help or support from her father or his family. I’ve lost all my hair due to prolonged stress, I’ve given up trying speaking to family members including my mum about how I feel as they just don’t get it. It’s like someone telling you they’re there for you whenever you need to talk but when you do, they shut down your feelings or suggest counselling just like any other non-depressed human. As my daughter gets older and more demanding, I feel weaker and even more isolated. She is the only one keeping me going. I literally have nothing else to live for. My life is like a piece of paper, just blank; that’s how I feel. It’s like I’m here but I’m not, I’m just existing and its destroying me. Every day I cry, I don’t even need to be triggered anymore. I wake up, see the four walls of the room I live in and feel trapped and upset to have woken up again. One thing I always told myself growing up was that I would never bring a child into this world without knowing I can give them everything and more. That being: a father as I never had one, a huge support system, a good home and anything they ask for wouldn’t be a problem to obtain. I promised my daughter we will have the best life but as I look back on this past year af my present situation, I feel like a massive failure. I used to be full of life, had a great social one. I don’t know who I am anymore; I feel like I am just somebody’s mother here to protect them because they have nobody else. All she has is me and all I have is her. It breaks my heart and as I write this, she is sleeping peacefully without a clue of what’s going on. I’m so so sad. The only reason why I haven’t given up yet is because of her; I just want us to be happy but I’m stuck in this vicious cycle of wallowing in my self pity. Is there a way out?

    2. carol, are things any better for you??? i’m genuinely concerned for you. everyone withholds the truth every once in a while… it’s what makes us human! to prevent you from having friends/a cell phone/letting you go out is horrible. i hope things get better for you!!!!

    3. Your father has no right to hold you against your will, if you’re 18 and over pack you bags, go to the salvation army for help. You will be much happier and live your life the way you want, not the way he wants. I’m not a kid I’m 60 years old and you need to live your life. Run, run, have fun, good luck. If your father try’s anything, you can put a restraining order against him, and he cants touch you, good luck

  20. This is the first post i’ve read of your blog. I came to it because for some reason I always torture myself with reading about depression when I’m in the midst of what I call “lost days.” This is maybe the most valuable post I have EVER read about coping. Wow. Also, when I came to the part where you have congratulated yourself for not committing suicide, I burst into tears. I’m sorry you’ve been there. May you never be there again 💗 Thanks for your words.

  21. Hi Therese,
    I’ve been battling OCD and Depression for the last 20 odd years. I’m under medication for OCD and for lack of focus. But I’m also depressed and not interested in many things in life. I’ve lost my job four times because I couldn’t stick to deadlines and it takes me a long time to deliver on tasks. I am worried about my future. What would you suggest to mitigate or remedy my situation?
    thank you.

  22. I’m 15, and for the past year or so, I’ve gradually spiralled into a depression.
    Only yesterday, I told my mum what I was experiencing and she listened. I have tried and tried
    again to -I suppose- confess a secret that I fear no one will believe. There is no shadow of a doubt that I am becoming more and more self-centred, which is making things worse.
    I’ve only recently ‘took a step outside of my head’ and come to the realisation that at every opportunity I will isolate myself. I get very stressed about being outside around other people; and I just crumble in social situations.
    I sit my GCSE exams next year, which intensifies the numbness, yet feelings of despair.
    I’m not suicidal, I just sometimes think about what it would be like if I didn’t exist.
    For me, I think one of the many roots of my problems is school, and academic pressure.
    I’ve always tried my best at secondary school, and I do reasonably well. The result of this however is that I have high targets to achieve, that seem completely unattainable given my current state of mind, combined with the fact that in some subjects for instance art, I have only produced a few weeks of work and I am nowhere near finishing my book for September.
    I really appreciate the advice in this article- and if you are reading my comment- thank you.
    I think that there are two kinds of being alone:
    1) Being by yourself in a room on your own
    2) Being alone in a room full of people in different groups
    I can handle the first type easily- seeing as I isolate myself as much as possible!
    But the second type… It just grinds me down… Further and further into a well of embarrassment and shame.
    I’m sorry- I haven’t really articulated what I want to say, because I honestly just don’t know what it is.
    It feels incredibly hard to believe that other people are dealing with their own demons around you- and neither of you are aware of the depression that the other is facing. It’s not a battle- it’s both an uphill and a down hill struggle, in my eyes anyway. Winning, is when we can openly talk about mental health regardless of age, race, gender etc.
    I know it is said often but, you are not alone.
    If hide and seek was played internally, in the mind and not physically, depressives would be world champions! Nobody saw the internal turmoil you were experiencing- that was the isolation.
    There is someone who cares. Someone who believes. Even if it doesn’t feel that way- even if no one knows. Someone, somewhere is thinking of you
    Thank you for reading/listening- it means so much- and again I apologise for my ramblings.
    I wish everyone the very best of luck in easing their personal situation.

    1. Rachel, my heart goes out to you, and you are not rambling. I have been a high school teacher and have had students who suffer from depression. I have suffered from it too, and am now in a depression with anxiety. You are very brave, and you are insightful. hugs.

    2. As an introvert all my life, I feel your pain. I used to beat myself up because I wasn’t like everyone else. Introverts are overwhelmed in large groups of people. It’s the way your brain works – nothing to be ashamed about. Read a book by Susan Cain called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. Hang in there – you are NOT alone!

  23. Thank you for writing this. I cried because I have been doing everything I can to make myself better and I just got fired for something I couldn’t control. Depression is ruining my life, and I’m afraid ruining the lives of anyone I get close to. My entire family, save my mother (and my father, god rest him) has cut me out for being “too negative.” I know there’s something horribly wrong with me but I don’t know how to change it. Everyone keeps saying it gets better but I’ve going on year 20 of this disease. Thank you for reminding me that I’ve gotten through TWENTY years of this battle. I know it’s not going to end. I often suspect that I will become more and more isolated as I get older. I just hope I can keep finding the strength to go on.

  24. I can’t spend every day congradulating myself for not commiting suicide. Truth is that I’m simply a coward and that’s why I ‘m still alive. I don’t believe there is a way out of darkness and self-loathing. Distraction used to work in the past, but now… How can I live with myself when I hate myself so much? No, there is no way out.

    1. I’m not a coward i can suicide but My problem is how to suicide any suggestion am afraid to jump from high buildings and I don’t die I be disabled and depression gets worse

    2. All you need is an understanding friend that supports you and keeps you positive, I have been feeling really lonely and feel all alone even thou I have children, but they are getting sick of listening to me, but I’m good at giving advise. You need to live this life it’s beautiful, there’s nothing out there. Make the most of what’s here now. Every time you look at something try to understand it, really look at everything on this world is unbelievable. Enjoy it. There is nothing else.

  25. I have been in my sixth severe depression since I was 20. I am now 66. I am so grateful that these posts are here. I am suddenly retired because of my depression. My marriage is a mess because I am not fun anymore. I used to be active, and involved and connected. Now I wonder what to do with my day and how many hours till 9:30 and I can take my sleep meds. I am an artist and my brush feels like a broom in my hand. So tired of this. But so grateful for all of you. Please keep posting. I have had tech problems at home, but a follow-up comment managed to get through. I was mildly elated, which was nice. People on this site GET IT whereas others who have not suffered from depression and anxiety might as well be listening to me talk from the moon.

    1. You are not alone. I used to be an artist. Now I don’t have the energy to do much of anything except just get through the day. I can’t sleep which makes the depression worse. I am 59 and having trouble finding work as a graphic artist (age discrimination). I really don’t have any close friends and come from a disfunctional family so can’t talk to them. Feel so alone.

  26. I’ll be honest…my life has been crazy since is was young. At 6 I was molested by a family friend, by 9 my uncle started performing oral sex on me while he babysat. That went on for a couple years. At 12 I lost my virginity to a friend on my terms because I was in fear of another Family “friend” adult making advances towards me. And I was afraid he’d take the one thing that was mine…charges were eventually pressed against the family friend. My parents shipped me off to live with family off and on for a year at a time. By 12 I moved in with my aunt and uncle. Around that time I also started hurting myself. Cutting, burning, stabbing, scraping. You name it I Probably tried it. All trying to make the pain I was feeling stop. Failing at every turn. But I looked normal on the outside and no one really noticed. There were signs of course but knew what to due with me. Eventually at 16 I was raped in a car. Was dragged to the hospital and convinced that I should he committed to process all that had happened. Because I could tell you all about it in I was blue in the face and had no reaction or feelings what so ever. That’s when I was 1st diagnosed borderline personality. Later it would grow to be severe depression and bi-polar. I was released after a month because my insurance ran out. But the Doctors wanted to commit me to a state facility. Which now people tell me I may never have gotten released from. I’m relativity high functioning most of the time. But it’s always there threatening to take over. I’ve only survived because of my children now 13 and 17. My daughter suffers mental illness. Severe depression, bi-polar, severe social anxiety. And I am the closest one who has any understanding what she’s going thru. But she often shuts me out. Thinking she has to be able to manage these feeling for herself if she’s going to be an adult. She’s hurt herself multiple times, sometimes out of boredom, sometimes out of anger and frustration. I’m at a lost to help her. I have her in therapy, on meds, weekly visits. For the longest time I though I was like this because of all the sexual abuse as a child I endured. But I spared her all of that. I protected her at every turn. She flips a lid of her dad or I mention hospitalization. But that’s usually a knee jerk reaction to if the choice is to keep her from death or hating us forever. I’ll choose her hating me. I do remember what it was like in there. And how I hated my family when they wouldn’t let me out. But I get it now. They didn’t know what else to do. I asked her today to think really hard. And picture you’re in this same place with your child. What magic words of advice would you have for him or her. What do you need from me that I can better be equipped to help you thru this. Her problem has constantly been she feels she has to figure it out on her own. Because she’s growing up and going off to college soon. And will have no one. I told her parenting doesn’t end when you magicly hit 18. That I am here every step of every day. She just has to let me in. I know I don’t always say what she wants to hear. But at least I’m the only one in her life with real experience in this department. And can be understanding when her father and aunt’s and uncles advice is to suck it up you have control of how you react to things or you’ll grow out of it.
    It’s so hard to help her when I feel my own would is crashing around me. But I haven’t offed myself in 17 years because off those 2 kids when I’ve had every reason to. 3 and a half years ago my favorite person in this world died due to pancreatic cancer
    My grandmother. 3 weeks later my husband left me and the kids for another woman. He told me about the 4 month afair ad moved in with her all in the same day. January the following year the divorce was final. 10 months later I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. Went thru a year of treatment, radiation, chemo, surgery…only to be left in permanent pain in my lower back and running down my legs. No I have a morphine pump embedded in my spine and abdomin. And on top of that the kids and I have to live with family because I can’t afford a place of our own. Life truly sucks. But I keep going every day because I have no choice. I can’t work because of the constant pain but keep being denied SSI. I’m losing this battle.

    1. You sound like a wonderful mother and person. I’m so happy that you have come so far, I really am. I understand the scars of abuse, grief, worry. I will be praying for you and your daughter. Please keep going.

  27. At 19yrs. old, I lost the ability to close my hands. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis shortly after that period. I lost my job as a secretary. I do believe job stress started this whole mess. At 28yrs. old, married with a wonderful, caring husband and two beautiful children,, I was then diagnosed with endometrial cancer. I had to have a hysterectomy with the removal of my ovaries, uterus and cervix. To lose estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone at the height of your youth and childbearing years, is something that can’t be described. Mother nature doesn’t come in a pill. Hence, I went through my first Major Depressive episode in 1986. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep and before I knew it, I was down to 108lbs. No one seemed to know what my problem was 40yrs. ago. It was as though the medical community did not know the existance of Major Depression. Back then, experts would have said I had a ‘nervous breakdown.’ I remember the first psychiatrist I met, which was on a medical floor, at a very well known hospital in southern California.. The psychiatrist had a dog and his wife with him. The psychiatrist was blind. He began to ask me some questions about my health, and all I could do was hand him a journal that I was writing, because I had no idea what was happening to my body and I wanted to leave some record for my two children continually writing them and telling them how much I loved them. They were 8yrs. and 10yrs. old at the time. I truly felt as though I was on another planet, and no one had any idea what I was going through. At night, I would lay perfectly still, so that my husband could sleep. It did not take long for the psychiatrists’ wife to read back my journal to him. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with “Major Depression.” He told me it wasn’t my fault and that I was going through a chemical imbalance. He instructed me to take medication. I still can remember that one night he prescribed me nortriptyline, an antidepressant for depression. The next morning, my appetite returned, and the medication he prescribed, helped me with my sleep. My depression did get better, but it took three years before I could tell you I was back to my ol’ self. My children were in grade school. I decided that I would go to college and take as many classes as I could, so I could help other people with depression. I’m not sure how I did it, but I juggled a full time job, raised my kids … along with four dogs and my husband. LOL I obtained my psychology degree and my nursing degree and off I went to teach patients about depression. I would discuss alternative ways to pull themselves out of depression and educated patients on the different types of antidepressants and antianxiety medications that were available to people who had depression. Most of my patients, didn’t even know they had depression. There was no idea of signs and symptoms of depression. People think you can just “snap” out of it, and don’t recognize it as a true illness. My patients had gone from doctor to doctor and no one discussed depression to them. Here is the kicker. I was a Registered Nurse with a psychology degree doing telemedicine to our veterans for the VA hospital. I was hired in 2007 and my job description was to set up mental health to the five surrounding Community Based OutPatient Clinics. Before I knew it, my case load was huge. I constantly asked for help, but was always denied. I was told that I was a victim of my own success. Until one day, I asked the Chief of Behavioral Medicine to take a few nurses from the mental health hospital division to assist with all the consults that I was receiving from the primary care providers in the five outpatient clinics. All my therapy was done through telemedicine. It was the most perfect job for someone who had rheumatoid arthritis. I had my own little office, and I do mean the size of a closet, where I would teach patients,through telemedicine, about their depression. Many of my patients accepted the idea of antidepressants and were willing to give it a try. Many had gotten so much relief. My job was the most rewarding job anyone could ever have. On October 31st, 2013, the Chief of Behavioral Medicine died suddenly. He was only in his 40’s. I didn’t question how he died. I knew he had chronic pain issues. I then knew I had lost my “champion.” During the time of 2011 and 2012, I was also caring for my brother who had cancer. He died within two years of “germ cell” cancer, thought to believed from when he was in service (30yrs. ago) making nuclear weapons in Europe. My brother, Earl, was just one of nine brothers that all served this country. I felt so grateful with my position at the VA Hospital, as I know I was fulfilling a need that was never covered before. The veterans loved not having to leave their home for therapy. However, my rheumatoid arthritis appeared again. In 2007, I knew I would need an apartment near the hospital, due to my rheumatoid arthritis. I had gotten an apartment near the hospital, and away from the desert, where I had always resided. (I knew I couldn’t make the 3hr. drive everyday. With my own money, I had rented an apartment, less than a mile from the hospital. My monthly rental payments started at $1500. per month, until I could no longer stay in a damp environment – all the way to $1800. per month. I returned to the desert in 2014. Even though the new Director of Behavioral Medicine informed me that I could set up from home, I was stopped by bullies, who didn’t quite understand how difficult it was for me to stay in a damp environment. I have cried each and every day!!! I am seeing a psychiatrist once a month. I feel I have lost my identity. I have thought about suicide more than half the time, even though I have remained on antidepressants. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself, and I know my husband is tired of me not smiling. My social security check is $1800., which maiinly goes toward my husband and my health insurance. As a matter of fact, 1700.00. It is difficult to find a job outside my home, as there are days I have trouble with limited joint movement. I know it can always be worse. But right now, I can’t see that. I’m sick all the time. I don’t even comb my hair. All the suggestions I would give to my patients’ does not seem to work. I’m lonely, isolative and tired of trying to make it work. Does anyone out there know how I feel?

  28. Wow I read almost all of the comments and many tears were brought to my eyes I suffer from depression and PTSD to go along with it I’ve gone through more than I could even sit here and say in life it would probably take me days and to top it off I was diagnosed a year ago with multiple sclerosis. That brought my depression to a whole nother level. A lot of people that haven’t gone through this think that people like us with depression feel sorry for ourselves and that’s one of the big reasons why we feel so alone it’s nice to know that there are many people who suffer the same and I’m not alone at all I know you hear it often but when you read it and you see it you’re more reassured and I can appreciate that thank you to all who have commented.

  29. Im 38, my birthday is in a few weeks. Every year i turn my phone off. Some years i leave it off for a month or 2. I have been depressed for as long as i can remember. Sometimes i think that im so worthless that im hurting the world by not killing myself. I for some reason think that im to scared to take my life. So i am just here taking up space. I just quit my job a few weeks ago and i have basically locked myself in my home. I pretty much told all of the people i care about to go away forever. I have barely saved any money and winter is approaching. Im not sure how things are going to pan out but i honestly dont care. People have told me that its not my fault and its an illness but my brain is what makes me me so it is my fault. My favorite part of life is when im asleep, i feel so sad the second i know its over. If i was in a situation where i could save a life in trade for mine, i would do it in a heartbeat, then i would feel like my life had some sort of purpose…

    1. Kenny, I hear you. I’m in a place at the moment that is very depressed, and thinking some of the things you’re thinking. I hope I’m writing before your birthday happens, as I’d like to “be there”, virtually at least, when you acknowledge it. I won’t say celebrate, as it does not seem to inspire that for you! Please find a way to reach out to someone, a medical professional if you can, and ask for help. You have a brain illness and need/deserve help to get better. You don’t mention what part of the world you live in. If you share that perhaps those of us reading your comment can offer suggestions for help. You are young and have so much of life to experience. Please ask someone to help you, maybe a friend or family member, who could help you make a phone call to an appropriate professional source. I know you’ve told them all to go away and leave you alone, but I promise they don’t think as badly of you as your brain is telling you to think of yourself. Just one person, just one call, just one step towards getting help. Please. Then invite me to your birthday!

    1. Kiran, please call your doctor – family doctor if you have one. Tell him/her that you are depressed. This is the first step in getting help. Nothing will change if you do nothing to help yourself. I know how hard that is, believe, and I know how true it is too. One phone call to a doctor. You can do it.

  30. “You can’t wait for the storm to be over, you have to learn how to dance in the rain.” I HATE that phrase so much, it’s not just rain it’s a storm! if you dance to it you’ll be blown away by the wind and hit a tree, or at least get a cold.

  31. Thank you so much for this post…and the comments. In the words I find depth, resiliency, life, love, sorrow, and the tenacity of the human spirit struggling to hold on to the sparks of life…do you realize the strength it takes to pass through these dark halls? That is something the rest don’t have! Harnessing the storm clouds, channeling the lightening that strikes the soul, and creating a thing of beauty in this, your life…what a challenge!!! The Eternal Hope will make it happen…

  32. Reading this post and all the comments have helped me a lot in knowing i’m not alone. I, too, have gone through cycles of employment-unemployment-employment… and now work as a freelancer. Having to deal with difficult people would worsen my depression at times and i am grateful i don’t have to deal with that as much now as I would if i were in an office, but the pay is very irregular and there is the loneliness. I have often felt ashamed at how my professional situation turned out. The usual image that people have of someone with academic credentials like mine is that of a CEO of a leading company or something.
    I have yet to find someone who really “gets” it when it comes to what it feels like to be depressed. I’ve read Darkness Visible multiple times and I think that is the closest I’ve heard/ read someone describe what I’m feeling inside. What scares me most is that this darkness keeps revisiting me. (Hence the multiple read of the book.) The timing is rather unpredictable, too. Sure, there were times when depression came as a result of job loss or a breakup in interpersonal relationships, but that hasn’t always been the case. It’s made me a bit paranoid when things seemingly are going well.. Like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop any moment. I am currently in a country where there is severe stigma around depression, and this is making me hesitant to seek treatment.
    My question is, is it quite common for people to kick the butt of depression once and for all, not to have it return again? Or is it something that you always have to look over your shoulder for, if you’ve experienced it at least once? Because even though i try to stay hopeful that i can pull myself out of the tunnel this time around, just the thought of the possibility that i can get dragged into it again reminds me of the futility of it all.

  33. I have had major depression and generalized anxiety disorder since I was 8 years old and an eating disorder since I was 13 (I am now 24). At first I would binge eat and I gained a lot of weight In middle school. When I got out of middle school I started to work out and lose weight but I still didn’t like the way I looked so I stopped eating a lot of foods. Now I often starve myself during the day and binge eat at night. During my years in high school I was constantly on and off medication. Most of them would either increase my anxiety or depression and make me feel sick. I ended up in two outpatient programs during my junior and senior year. I have seen multiple different therapists, psychiatrists, and nutristionists but I still feel stuck. I am writing my story on here because I am hoping that someone can give me feedback on things that they have found helpful.

  34. If I get up and go to work and help my daughter with homework ( most of the time ) and still provide for my family ..but have no disire to do anything else clean, go out, do laundry ect. even bathing is difficult for me and my sex drive is gone . Is that depression? I mean I do all the responsible stuff but nothing else makes me happy i feel like im just going thru the motion of everyday life but nothing more

  35. One of the worst parts of my depression and anxiety is that it seems no one really understands how much pain I endure 24/7. It sometimes is so intense there is no way to describe it in a logical manner. When a child cries and complains of intense pain we believe they are in pain so when me a 38 year old male cries in pain why is it so much harder to believe. I gotta tell u when I’m lying in bed in the dark crying and trying to find one fiber in my body that has no pain and every thought that goes through my head is that of death…. No everyone I am not lying there because I am lazy or any of the such. I am smart and have things to offer society and that I think is what I hate most about this disease. I have a soul, my intent on life is pure, but when the pain is constant my words are only of anger even though I know what is good…

    1. I get where you are coming from, Brandon, and no way do I believe you are lazy or dramatizing. Those accusations come from a depressed mind, and they are distortions. I go through that, too—this disease just doesn’t make sense to our usual way of perceiving ourselves. I struggle with “why can’t I make myself do…” all the time and I hate it. I am thinking of you, and with your permission, praying.

  36. I’ve suffered depression on and off for over thirty years. It torments and teaches. I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy. It is, I’m convinced, hell on Earth. I don’t have adequate words to explain how this agony teaches me. Maybe teach is the wrong word. It’s like finding something hidden, unexpected, even sacred in the dark. I know the dark, light the light belongs. It isn’t two separate things. There is love in both places. I’m no saint. But when I’m well enough to think about it, I unite my suffering to suffering everywhere. In solidarity. I’m not sure where this is going or if it even makes sense to any of you. But it sometimes works for me. I feel less useless.

  37. I’m badly depressed always 😢 why do I feel so ?? I don’t have any girlfriends nor do I have friends. I don’t smoke nor drink. I don’t roam with anyone. I didn’t/don’t cheat anyone. I don’t want to work anywhere except my native city (I love my mother so much that I don’t want to be away from her, not even 1 day because of some kind of fear that if I’m away, something bad might happen to her) . I am badly afraid to phone call anyone ( kind of fear ). Only my parents are true to me, who will be nice to me after them?? Am I so alone or do I have a dirty life??? Is my life a waste???? Why do I have these disgusting feeling always. Kindly help me 😭😭😭

  38. The worst is when you can’t “shake it off” when you need to the most. When you can’t focus or listen to a loved one in front of you, even though you won’t see them for years, maybe never again. When you can’t care about one single damn thing, nothing at all. You can’t feel anything. Constantly and no matter what. Sitting here crying my eyes out, I just want to feel happy. I want to walk outside and feel excited, staring at the sky I know everything must be beautiful. I want to smile. Isolated for months. It’s impossible when you only love being alone and hurting yourself. Shocking, freezing water to the heart, to sometimes understand the degree or severity of desolation you’re constantly experiencing. And I’m so terrified. Scared of endings, scared of continuation. It’s been so long, my soul is crushed… I want to fall back down to the world

    1. YES that’s exactly how I feel I’m always feeling sad and everything I do.I wish I Was happy!
      at least someone knows how I feel

    2. Dear M, you described the most painful experiences a depressed person has. That of feeling on the outside of the world, of knowing something is beautiful, but not feeling it. Of being in the presence of a loved one without being really present. What a gift that you put into words what many of us feel, so that we might suffer less meanly and feel less alone. And, hey, you have talent as a writer. Keeping you and all these others who often express the nature of depression with such eloquence. Thank you.

  39. i’m 11 years old and my whole life I been bullied and hated on or been left :( i just did a test if a have depression and I do! i have severely depressed. thank for the post it helped

  40. Hi all. I am relieved to have found this site and to have read all the info posted. I do suffer like any other does with this illlness. I have had it for 13 years and have tried all options to cure it and only one thing has come close to this cure.
    I am not in sales or anything else to annouy you.
    I discovered it recently and have put it into action over the last few months. It does work and it is drug free!
    I have been through the mills like all of ye have too, doctors, healers, hospitals, medication, workshops, etc etc etc…..
    I found a TeD talk on YouTube one evening seeking some from of release from the daily pain.
    I am married with 3 kids and have struggled to hold down a full time job. I have lost all my mates and pushed away all my siblings etc.

    I felt my days were reallly numbered and started to panic.

    Please try Dr. Steve Lardi on YouTube.
    I bought his book and applied it 100% because I had nothing else left to try.
    Within 2 weeks I felt a change for the first time since the start of the illness.

    His book is callled the depression cure without medication. And I can finally and bravely say that depression can and will be between.
    I hope this can help someone who wishes to give it a try.
    I am open to answering questions on this experience if needed.
    This is certainly a global problem and not just your individual pain so please stay strong.
    Niall

    1. I looked this up, the name is spelled Ilardi. So it was kind of difficult finding it but the book looks good, and his Ted Talk was good, too.

  41. I feel so sad. I resigned from my position due to severe stress from the job. That was 12/2017 I still have not found a job. We are slowly falling behind. I’ve applied for so many jobs even jobs m under qualified for. I just need to work. My daughter is in private school. I really try but m shutting down. I have no one i can tell nor even my husband. M afraid to trust him and tell him that i think of blowing my head off with the gun we have. No insurance if i kill myself. I need to take care of my kids. I don’t sleep well. Food is becoming scarce. M an educated woman why can’t i find work. My husband is working as much as he can. He asked me today If i wanted to talk all i could do was shake my head no…i try not to cry anymore it makes my head hurt.

  42. Wonderful advice.
    I really love the work.
    It is indeed inspiring and motivating. I won’t lose the courage to keep moving forward.

  43. I thank you for the blog. I am depressed now after a 17 year break from the last one. Now I think, it is time to go. Too hard to fight. I had a perfect childhood, being loved by parents and my aunt dearly. All I want is to repay them . But sadly, I just can’t. God, forgive me

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