I still see signs of depression in my brain. That’s hard for me to admit since I’ve been working to manage better for years. Lately, I feel exhausted and frustrated with myself though.
The National Institute of Mental Health has a list of symptoms and signs of depression (copied and pasted directly from the linked page and my evaluation for myself is indented):
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- What do I feel about things? I still feel anxious at times, but more than anything, I do have “empty” feelings. There’s emotion there, but it’s a null set, or at least that’s how it feels to me; it’s a perception problem. It’s like there’s an empty place in my chest (and I know, that’s not where feelings come from).
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- These have intensified recently. I really question if I can improve my skills, have I been learning? I only have a limited lifetime, so just when does hopefulness and optimism become more default?
- Can life get better? my honest answer is “probably not” right now, at my best it’s a “maybe”.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Yes, yes, and yessish…this last one is where I feel it sometimes, but know there are things I can do and actually do do sometimes. Am I improving, growing? The feeling I have is one of being stagnant.
- Irritability, restlessness
- Kinda…yes. especially the former.
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- What do I enjoy doing? And am I doing those things? Often no. It always seems like the effort and time are crushing constraints. And it feels like anything I do isn’t fun/pleasurable, exactly, it’s just something I do.
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Yes, and yes. This may be getting less sleep, but I rarely feel energetic or excited.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Yes, possibly (I don’t seem to care about details in too many situations), and yes, decision making is still really hard for me; even small ones.
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- I am up past midnight most nights, I wake up around 5am most mornings, try to sleep til 6 at least or 7…then the cat insists I get up to feed him.
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- I have eaten less this year. I think I’ve lost weight, though I haven’t stepped on a scale lately.
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Unfortunately, yes. the former. They’re not insistent, nor do I take them at face value; they’re thoughts that come up and I dismiss them as temporary, fleeting, but my sense is healthy people do not have these thoughts. And they aren’t thoughts I would act on.
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
- Unsure on this one. It is perfectly possible. I have aches, pains, headaches, and more; but that may be due to exercise and not taking the best care of myself.
So given these signs, how can I say I’m doing better? I still feel like there’s a gap between reality and my perceived reality. Making time for meditation/mindfulness may help; it’s something I’ve gotten away from the last few months. And how do I experiment more to figure out how to get myself into feeling better?
I need to think about it more.
But this assessment just goes to show the the road from feeling crushingly depressed is a long one. I’m not completely under its false narratives anymore, but still haven’t totally given way to new ways of thinking, cultivating a healthier mindset.
The component I’m missing may well be social too. I need to interact more with other people, the world, engage in real life with fellow human beings. I do this in fits and starts now, but I hope I can do it more often. I am still scared of spreading my depression to someone else. Trust me, I don’t wish the depressive thinking pattern on anyone.
I know things take time. But it is frustrating to realize I still have these feelings, even a year after feeling like I’d made a lot of progress. And in some ways I have, really. I am better at recognizing and addressing my depressive thinking in my own brain.
And I am more anxious than ever about being open about it (hello insurance cos and potential employers! I’m self-disclosing medical info! But you know, it shows I’m a bold person…so that’s good, right?). But here I am, showing up, telling the internet how I am doing. I hope it helps someone.