So much has happened in my life in the past year or so. Not a lot of it has been happy. Sure there have been some bright spots every now and then. But for the most part, I have been struggling with depression and anxiety. It’s been a lifelong struggle but this year has been particularly difficult. I know about mental illness and have blogged about it in the past. I have tried to be an advocate for mental health awareness. I’ve been outspoken and open about my depression. But when I found myself drowning in darkness that included suicidal thoughts, I also felt unbelievable shame. Maybe it’s my upbringing; maybe it’s my own values; maybe it’s how society views suicide as a taboo subject; probably it’s a combination of all of the above.
My therapist describes my depression as dysthymia. According to WebMD.com, dysthymia is a type of chronic depression that is less severe than major depression. It can also last for years. Dysthymia may not disable a person, but it prevents one from functioning normally or feeling well. Major depression, which is described as the medical diagnosis for depression that lasts for at least two weeks and interferes with daily life. It causes symptoms like low energy, fatigue, and feelings of hopelessness. That sums it up. I’ve depressed for years but in the recent past, the symptoms are significantly more pronounced.
Over the years, I’ve tried every antidepressant to no avail. I’ve even started adding medications like antipsychotics and mood stabilizers with minimal improvement. The meds may dull the emotions but underneath, the depression remains. It hangs over my head and colors my world in shades of grey. Even though I’m functioning (if you can call it that), it takes a good deal of energy to keep up appearances. I find myself too exhausted to do the things I would like to. I would much rather pull the covers over my head and hide in the darkness. Sometimes I wonder if anyone would really miss me if I didn’t show up. If I feel this horrible about myself, how do others view me?
When I said, I only have dysthymia, my psychiatric nurse practitioner brought to my attention that thoughts of suicide are to be taken seriously. When I brought up the subject of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), she didn’t dismiss me. Is a life without depression even possible? I cannot imagine it. I’m tired, so very tired and need some relief and soon. So desperate, I’m willing to try ECT. I know it’s controversial and filled with stigma of its own. Has anyone tried it? I would like to hear your thoughts.