When Depression Returns…

A girl stands in a dimly lit hallway on Alcatraz Island, SF.

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

On Monday this week, I began ketamine treatments for treatment-resistant depression. I had heard I would get relief much more quickly than with traditional SSRI’s, so I was hopeful. I wrote this yesterday, feeling ready to be done with everything. I was frustrated and tired and angry. But, this morning, I went for my usual mental health run, and I saw the wildflowers on the path. I came home and saw my husband blow drying my daughter’s hair so that it would look just like Violet Baudelaire’s, and those small things brought me joy.

If the following resonates with you, please talk to a loved one, a ward member, a medical professional. Please know you are worthy of being here, and your brain is not giving you an accurate perception of your value. See the end of this post for resources that I have found helpful in my management of this illness.

I set boundaries; I kept them strong and adjusted others.

I worked so hard to not let the depression back into my life.

I was honest (maybe too honest) about my failings and self-doubt.

I meditated and journaled and ran miles.

I moved my running time back so I could make sure I got enough sleep.

I eat the foods that sound good and eat on regular schedules.

I accepted what I could not change and changed what I could.

I prayed and fasted and hoped and had faith.
                Please don’t let this happen again.
                Please don’t let me keep hurting my family and friends.
                Please just let me go back to my old life.

I tried new medicines. I adjusted old ones. I tried acupuncture (and it made me feel so good if only for the day of each treatment), and now, I’m trying a new and radical treatment, which right now, is a blessing only in that it allows me the relief of not hating myself for a couple hours three times a week.

I don’t have as many communities to fall back these days; I dropped a lot of them to “simplify” my life.

I am lucky to still have friends and family who show up, even though I’m not much of a friend or family member anymore. I tell the demons in my head that they don’t hate me.

I’m embarrassed and tired and ashamed.

I had a different plan for this journey. I’m learning to adjust.

There is help; I have to remember to ask for it.

Crisis Text Line
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (chat and phone)
UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) Guided Meditations: https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations
Self-Compassion: the Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff, https://self-compassion.org/ 
Furiously Happy: a Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
National Alliance on Mental Ilness: https://www.nami.org/

EmilyCC

EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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7 Responses

  1. Allemande Left says:

    Emily,
    Thank you for your openness in sharing your experiences. Others will gain strength from your example of pushing through. Glad you are in our community and I hope we are able to support you. Sometimes learning to adjust is the key. More on that later….

  2. LMA says:

    Emily, this is so powerful and honest and real (insert many, many, many heart emojis). Thank you for talking about it. I really feel like we all need to have safe spaces to talk about our real mental health concerns, and the things that we feel. I feel like we’ve been trained to feel bad and ashamed if we don’t produce a certain level of anything. That’s wrong. Sometimes our bodies and mental health don’t allow us to do what we want and need to. That’s ok. If all we can do is survive, that’s okay. That’s enough. I’m glad you exist and that we can share our pain with one another. Sending so much love and comfort and thanks.

    • EmilyCC says:

      I was worried that I had gone too far and was ready to take down the piece about 10 times in the past couple days. Thank you so much for saying this.

  3. Ziff says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Emily. I’m really happy to hear ketamine is working so well for you, and I hope it continues to do so. I really like this line you said about depression: “your brain is not giving you an accurate perception of your value.” So perfectly expressed. I do hope things continue to improve for you.

  4. Chiaroscuro says:

    I’ve also struggled with depression since I was a teenager. running used to be my primary coping strategy, but I’ve developed knee and foot problems that make it impossible for me to run as I used to. I continue trying to exercise for relief, but no other form of exertion does quite the same thing for my brain. it has been a real struggle.

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