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Michael Toy

Some comments from the land of depression ...

I go through cycles with depression. Sometimes it is a struggle just to get up and eat and pee and go to work and come home and do it all again. When I am like this, I need people to hang out with me, not to pat me on the head, but just to bear it with me, so I am not alone.

As the wheel turns, I hit stages where it seems like I can defeat depression, and maybe step closer to that ever elusive sense of a normal life. During these times, I need my friends to remind me how moody I am when I am depressed, to point out how my depression keeps them from enjoying being in my company, to help me see the things I don't see about the depression so that I don't write it off as not very important.

For me, the struggle is mainly about medication. It is hard to admit that I can only function like a "normal" person if I take medication. Which is why it is helpful for me to get help in seeing things clearly, otherwise denial kicks in and I pretend that everything is fine, while my friends tiptoe around me, afraid to see my mood swing when they are in the target range.

John P.

I come from a long line of depressed people (on my mother's side). Depression is hard to understand because, although it's mental, it's not the least bit rational. It's more like pure pain -- like spending every waking moment with a migraine or a pinched nerve. You can't talk yourself out of it or think it away. It's just there. It colors everything you do. Thus, simply being alive, which is pleasant to a normal person, is painful to a depressed person. Whereas a normal person is moderately happy most of the time, a depressed person experiences happiness only at rare intervals, when, for a few hours, the pain is muted.

My experience has been that the only help for the truly depressed is medication. Thankfully, we live in an age that has drugs capable of smothering the pain. The drugs aren't perfect (and more and more problems with them seem to be surfacing lately), but I've known depressed people who, after being on an SSRI, would rather cut off an arm than go back to their previous state.

David Kris

It’s hard to watch someone struggle. And I believe you are right that resiliency is a key element. As someone who occasionally struggles with depression myself, I know the turning point for me is when realize that "I'm gonna come out of this okay" turns into “I don’t care if this turns out okay”. And not caring makes turning the situation / state of mind around seem insurmountable. The closest I can get to resiliency is perseverance.

Sadly despite having been there many times, remembering how you climbed out of depression previously (or summoning the will to) is difficult or impossible. For myself I know exercising at something I love – mountain biking – is a good first step. The combination of triggering endorphins and experiencing joy helps me remember a light exists at the end of the tunnel even if I can’t see the light from where I am at the time.

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