Recently, a close friend of mine (runner and gym enthusiast) suffered from severe Depression. Through months of agony, I heard from him very less but his responses confirmed that he was not in good mental health. I heard from him recently on a phone call, he confessed a painful state of depression. Still trying to get out of the grips of it, he sent me this article. I understand that writing about it has given him relief. I won't disclose his identity.
Mental Health has recently gained attention in a more open manner. However there is still intense stigma about anxiety and depression. Here's a real life story and some learnings. He has also put down some resources that have helped him deal with his trauma.
I am married and a father of twin girls working in corporate world. For my entire life until 2017 Aug/September I have a lived a very healthy and active life. I loved working out, I had my hobbies to live for. But something changed afterwards. I was not feeling good about lot of things. I had a good holiday in December.
In January this year I realized I had a ligament tear in my shoulder and a bone spur. I got operated and within 1 month I was back to running. In mid-February, while running, I had a fall and my ligament tore again and I had my 2nd surgery on the same shoulder. I lived through heavy pain, pain-killers and Physiotherapy sessions.
I was falling sick again and again. Every doctor I changed diagnosed something new and prescribed me new medication. At one point of time, I was having 3 different antibiotics for the same problems prescribed by 2 different specialists. One day, during an overseas business trip, due to medicine reaction I was admitted to hospital, I was lucky, I had friends in that country who helped me. I had my 1st nervous breakdown then.
I came back to my home country and looked for a new doctor for the same problem and during the diagnosis, I asked him, if the problems I was having were more psychological or clinical. This doctor after thorough examination booked me an appointment with a Psychologist.
During discussion with the Psychologist and having discussed all signs I realized I have telltale sign of depression from a long time.
Signs of Depression
There could be many factors for depression and I am no way capable or an expert to document all. What I am documenting is my symptoms. If you find you also have the same ...you need to see a Psychologist.
- Persistent medical problem with no diagnosis: for last 3-4 months, I visited 4 specialists for 1 problem and nobody was able to diagnose anything. I was getting addicted to medicines. Mind is a powerful thing and sometimes it plays games with us. My last specialist asked to me to do a psychiatric evaluation of my problems.
- Insomnia and early morning sleeping: For almost 1+ month I could not sleep throughout the night and in morning I didn't want to wake up. I was not following my normal routine. I got myself prescribed for sleeping pills but still was unable to sleep properly. I was tired throughout the day, extremely bad fatigue.
- Restlessness and Emptiness: I lost interest in everything including my family, gym, work, etc. The things which was very near and dear to me also felt empty.
- Emotional & Sad: I became extremely emotional and starting reconnecting with family and friends, my sadness was so bad, I used to breakdown talking about anything in my life.
- Suicidal thoughts: I thought of ending my life many times, I googled painless ways of killing myself. I even wrote a suicide note. I was unable to control my emotions and during times my only thought was that I am worthless and nothing good can happen if I keep on living.
- Panic Attacks: I started having panic attacks and it was so bad that once I was admitted to hospital.
Reasons for Depression
I find it hard to say that there is one reason that triggers a depression. No one knows exactly what causes it. Those who suffer from depression feel overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness. I am undergoing therapy sessions to find more about my reasons. In my case the major reasons were [we are still trying to find out more]:
- Shoulder Surgery and Constant Pain.
- Sense of accomplishment in Job.
- Financial reasons.
- Living in my past and regretting some recent decisions.
Path to Recovery
If I look into my major reasons now, I don’t know why I was so depressed, but sometimes controlling your emotions are tougher than you think.
Half of the people who have signs for depression never get it diagnosed or treated. Depression is a disease just like any other clinical illness. We don’t tend to take medical consultations as we are scared that if your family members find out they will panic and overconcerned about you.
Overcoming depression is a journey. The path to recovery takes time. I am documenting my path to recovery:
- Medical Consultation: My psychiatrist prescribed me medication and also suggested me to get a therapist. Most of the medications are safe and non-addictive, but again I am not an expert, if you are concerned about medication take 2nd opinion. I am still under medication and I can see signs of improvement.
- Therapy: I took help of a clinical psychologist and I am still having sessions. My therapist is helping me to control my emotions and also trying to find out the reasons. You need to take the reasons out of your system otherwise there is always a chance of relapse.
- Talking to close friends: I am lucky I have friends with who I can talk without being judged. Talking helps. If you’re comfortable with anybody talk to them. I even talked about my suicidal thoughts with my friend. Sometimes you need others perspective to your problem without being judged.
- Medication, Breathing and Devotional Music: My therapist suggested this and whenever I have bad feelings I either listen to Gayatri Mantra or start doing breathing exercises. I even downloaded an app Breathe+ to help me in my breathing exercise.
- Exercise: I am still not able to motivate myself to go to gym or regular workouts but I am pushing myself for walking or biking even if it is for a short duration.
I can’t say I have recovered completely. Sometimes I feel worthless, but I can control my emotions after a short while. None of my relapse last beyond 4-5 mins, it is a good progress for me. I am able to sleep at night without sleeping pills. Mornings are normal now. However, I am still unable to motivate myself for lot of things. I am taking baby steps for recovery.
If you’re constantly in sadness and feeling empty, go check with a Psychiatrist or Psychologist and seek help. Remember it is curable and nobody else can help other than you. Dealing with unmanageable emotions is what makes you realize that you are human - not damaged, not broken - just human.
I also came across
- mind – provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
If you want to talk to me, drop me an email, I can share my experience. You can drop an email at firstname.lastname@example.org , the email will be forwarded to me by Tanya.