Source: Remembrance and Recovery Project by Mental Health America (Mental Health Minnesota)
I am 61 years old and was first diagnosed with depression 27 years ago in England, when undergoing a major job change and relocation. I sought professional help because I could not function adequately during and after these stressful events. I have lived with depression ever since, through several career moves, relocations from England to Belgium to Saint Paul, Minnesota, and through divorce and bereavement, and even cancer.
For the first 18 years, the main focus was on managing my depression was medication. Through trial and error of many different drugs and doses, I eventually found my current medication, which kept the depression under control a lot of time but did not eliminate the “black” periods.
About eight years ago I was going through a divorce after 35 years of marriage and was at an all-time low, including thoughts of suicide. At that point, I summoned the courage to admit myself to United Hospital, and it was there, I believe where I turned the corner and started on the road to hope and recovery.
Understanding and accepting my illness was the first step toward recovery.
- That I am not unique, there are others like me, and together we can help and support each other.
- That any kind of stress can trigger depression, but the illness of depression is caused by the body’s inability to restore the chemical balance which normally deals naturally with stress. The need for medication is no different than the diabetic’s need for insulin, or the short-sighted’s need for reading glasses. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of – period.
The coping techniques I have learned were the second part of my recovery.
- At the onset of the “black” period, seek the help and support of others – loved ones and/or professionals. Depression is incredibly lonely, to be able to reach out and have someone hold your hand is both comforting and reassuring.
- The knowledge that it will pass and get better. Take shelter from the storm and the sun will shine again.
My depression is currently controlled by medication, but from time-to-time, I know the “black” periods will come again. And when they do, I believe I have the self-confidence, strength, and the hope to get through them.