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Four Things That Help Me In A Depressive Episode

I've had severe depressive episodes for the majority of my life. I still struggle – a lot – but have made quite a bit of progress the last few years. 

 

What has worked for me are the following.


1. Remembering that this depressive episode will end. 


I've had episodes that honestly seemed to go on for years at a time, but at some point I would feel better, if only for a day – or even a part of a day. I've learned to make those periods of "okayness" last longer, bit by bit. Right now I'm having a hard time, but I know that I will feel a little better again at some point. Looking at feelings as fleeting, not permanent, is essential. 

 

 

2. Realizing that there are more feelings than happy and sad.


It seems obvious, but I was living in extremes. If I wasn't really "up," then I must be "down." Everything can get so black and white. But there's also "okay." I can feel pensive without having to be sad. I can feel contentment without having to be happy. Trying to spend more time in the middle ground has been helpful.

 


3. Having a good therapist – or someone else –  to talk to.


I've had multiple therapists. One basically egged me on when I started cutting and making myself throw up, another told me I could go into ****, yet another insisted she always was right and that everything would be okay if I had more nice, religious friends... I even had a psychiatrist who told me that he wouldn't care if I killed myself. (He said this while I was in his office because a bad med change he made was making me highly suicidal.) I have also had a couple mediocre therapists – nothing bad, but nothing great, either. One was actually fairly helpful, but couldn't keep himself objective enough to give me the help I really needed.

 

My current therapist is a great match for me. He doesn't get into power struggles, respects my input, isn't too directive and is very good at making me feel comfortable. He'll be honest about when I'm not being helpful to myself and I respect him enough to not become defensive, but actually examine myself. It took time to build up that trust, but it's definitely worth it. 

 

If I had known earlier what I know now, I would've switched therapists sooner with some of the other ones. If you don't have a good relationship with your therapist, try to work it out. There's a tendency for your problems in "real life" to become manifest in your relationship with your therapist. That's why you shouldn't give up immediately. But if your therapist is being degrading, not taking your input, abusing his/her power, has a major personality clash with you, or you just have a very bad feeling about it, leave. Find someone else. I don't care what your insurance or lack thereof says - having the wrong therapist can make you worse than no therapist.

 

If you don't have a therapist, I'd recommend it. Depression is a serious medical condition. If you had diabetes, you'd want to talk to a doctor to find out how to manage it, right? Think of it the same way. If, for some reason, you can't see a therapist, take some of those same criteria and advice and look for people in your life you can be completely honest with and who don't judge you. Make sure they're not too close so that their own interests don't interfere.

 


4. Getting out of bad relationships


I've had lots of bad romantic relationships – in so many ways. Even things that might seem "good" could be unhealthy. 


For instance, my first boyfriend made me feel understood. That was such a relief. The downside was that we were so emotionally intertwined that every little thing he did wrong was a catastrophe in my mind, yet I couldn't leave even after he cheated on me. 


I also had a boyfriend who I was with for a long time. He was a therapist, so he was accepting of that I had mental illnesses. The problem? He was always right because I was the crazy one. His demands were supposedly realistic (I had to straighten my hair and wear my makeup a certain way to receive any affection) while mine were not. I know that I'm not perfect, but he was too controlling and it made me depressed.

 

Another big problem I've encountered is sexually abusive guys... Not fun. Also, this doesn't just go for romantic partners – it's important in friendships and other relationships, too.


Basically, depression is hard enough on its own. If your partner is making it worse, it's not worth it. Don't keep putting off the decision to end it until you "feel better" – (s)he's making it worse! I'd say talk to your therapist first (or your other HEALTHY person to talk to), but you don't need someone unsupportive. 


I'm currently seeing someone who is good for me. He is willing to help me when I need him, but he knows that ultimately, the work to feel better is up to me. He knows that he can't fix anything and encourages me to be open with my therapist. He doesn't stay upset with me very long if I do something wrong – in fact, most of the time he doesn't react much at all. This happens to be a very healthy person for me to be with. I'm not just depressed, though – I have other mental illnesses, too. So the way he is might not be what everyone should look for. I didn't think a person like him existed, but here he is... If he can exist and be so good to someone as crazy as me, then I'm sure there's someone out there who can be good for you, too. :)


 

 

So, there are a few thoughts on what helps my depressive episodes... As I'm sure you picked up, I'm a big advocate of therapists (as long as they're good ones). I recommend that step the most, as they are better able to tailor advice to your situation. But I hope what I've learned can at least help someone a little! 

justFeel justFeel 22-25, F 36 Responses Apr 29, 2010

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"depression is hard enough on its own. If your partner is making it worse, it's not worth it." True, my partner seems to not care at all and he makes it even worst. It is indeed true V.V

thanks for the advice as some of us are grasping at straws tryng to see some light. and i can't afford a therapist.

that is a great list, and though it seems straightforward, in a depressive episode, it is very hard to follow any set of positive practices.<br />
"Realizing that there are more feelings than happy and sad......"<br />
that is a very, very intelligent approach, and one i've never thought about. this disease for me is so much about extremes.<br />
thanks for posting this.

this is exactly the list i have written in therapy ..<br />
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its strange,but effective.i have depressive episodes once every 5 or so months...and this list is the best way of coping with it.number four has,also,destroyed my social life.but hey,i have friends,i have family,and i dont need a compromised lie to cling onto. (:

Thanks for some positive input into that black dog - depression. You really sound as though you are on your way. Good luck with your future.

True dat.. Honey, you have hit the nail on the head here. Thank you for post it! LMN xx

atonement: Thanks! It means a lot to hear you say that. I really appreciate it. :)<br />
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stormieweather: Oh, you'd be surprised... If it were just the depression, I'd probably agree. I happen to have quite the combination of things going on and a lot of it is coming out right now! Thanks for your support. :)

Thanks! You're on the right track. And you're probably no more "crazy" than the rest of human kind!:)

"A step back is not permanent." I need to keep that in mind. <br />
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Thank you so much for your support. You really are making a difference.

atonement: I remember when 1 and 2 were impossible for me. It was that way for several years. Take it step by step... If you can get from unbearable to utterly miserable, that's progress. It might be all you can do that day (or week, or month, or year...). But it's an effort and that's all that matters. Every day you live is another victory, even if you feel like you totally screwed up. A step backwards is not permanent. You can do this.

Reading this was a great reminder to myself. I agree with all four of them, and I am especially trying to concentrate on 1 and 2. I had a long period of being "fine", but lately I can see myself falling into that hole again. I'm trying so hard not to go there and it is a constant fight. Right now I feel I'm losing :(<br />
So reading this was important, to try and fight harder. Thank you.

darkchild23: Thanks! Same goes for you... Hug your husband extra tight today and tell him you're lucky to have him, okay?

if you ever want to talk about anything, I'm a great listener. I think sometimes the only people who can understand the bad days are the ones that have had them too. You've got a good point about learning how to treat myself by the way he treats me... I'll certainly have to think about that one.

Thanks, NO8DO. I'm glad we're friends, too.<br />
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All the feedback I'm getting on this is helping me get through the day... Thanks, guys. :)

darkchild23: I am so glad that your husband is so helpful! I had a recent experience that was similar, where I broke down and cut myself a lot. When he found out, he didn't freak out and got me some Vaseline to help it heal and reduce scarring. He checks on them, too, but doesn't make a big deal out of it. He doesn't insist I stop, but doesn't approve either. I am learning a lot about how to treat myself from how he treats me – hopefully you can learn the same from your husband.

My husband is the same as your current boyfriend. He is so very level headed, that when I go into "meltdown" mode and it feels like the world is falling apart, he helps by being that one still, calm thing that I can focus on. Even the few times when things were bad enough that I cut, he didn't over-react. He helped me clean them, and wrap them, and told me that it would be alright, reminded me that things would get better. Did he like me doing it? No, of course not. But he didn't judge and he has helped me find other ways to release everything that is twisted up inside. <br />
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Thank you for this, by the way. I need to remember that "middle ground" trick more often. I too usually exist at one of two ends of the spectrum -- ineffably happy, or disastrously depressed.

aspiringmute: Thanks for saying so! That means a lot. If it helps, please share it with others! I really just want to help people. :)

This is one of the best and most helpful stories I've ever read on this site...thank you so much

polysexminoh: You have a good point about people just wanting to find out... I think that these thoughts are good to have in mind when interacting with a loved one who has depression. Maybe I'll write something on that later... Thanks for your comment. :)

It is good to hear that you are getting ahead of your depression! You have some very good insights and recomendations for those who are still strugglig or jsut finding out. <br />
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Thanks for having the courage to keep going and to share your expereince. I wish you wellon your journey and effort to stay ahead of you depression.

NO8DO: I appreciate your comment. It's not like I just got myself up once – it's a constant battle. But, yes, helping others is the main thing that keeps me going.<br />
<br />
Last October, I was in a psychiatric ward after a suicide attempt. The staff were being extra mean to me because I had tried to help another patient in a way they didn't understand, but that she appreciated. They put me in isolation, neglected me medically, didn't let me talk to anyone, etc. That was when I decided that I couldn't die until I did something about that – made it so others wouldn't have to suffer the same way I was. So that's what's keeping me going... Knowing that I have to make a difference.

defoekeane: I totally agree. It's a step by step thing. Silly things are definitely valid... For me, they include eating chocolate, watching true crime shows, a kiss and getting a new comment or rated up on here. Those little things add up!

ive had depressive episodes nearly all my life im in my late thirties and on anti depressants and have a psychiatrist. if 10 is a low and zero is a high, u got to take little steps to get the 9 etc<br />
even silly things just to get out of a rut

wildgrounds and lillyleanne: Glad I could be of some help. That's the only thing that makes this worth it... Being able to help others through having experienced all this.<br />
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laurynb: It does have a lot to do with how you think. It is a chemical process, too, but the way you think affects which chemicals get released. I'm glad you've found that positive thinking helps.<br />
<br />
Personally, when I'm depressed, positive thinking can actually help me feel more down – hence steps one and two. Positivity is just too big of a leap, so I take a step up to "okayness" instead. For instance, "I might not be happy, but this crippling sadness will stop at some point," and, "I am feeling somewhat numb, which isn't as bad as being depressed." <br />
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But if you can bridge that gap and go straight to thinking happy thoughts, more power to ya! :)

I agree to all of this, and well done for for the strength to get your self out of your *funk*, I am the same have suffered from depression since very young and have now realised that alot of it has to do with the thought processes that go on in your head, I mean if you sit down at the end of the day and think why the hell am I here etc etc your going to feel crap - and in effect drag yourself down more. It takes a while for positive thinking to come through, but it always helps. I found god a few years ago whilst i was in a black hole of depression, and he helped me find the strength I needed to get out of my own *funk*. Keep up the positive thinking :D

thanks for sharing...this will help me a lot..:)

thanks sooo much and will do x x x

lillyleanne: I'm glad I could help, if even only in a small way. <br />
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Congratulations on getting yourself back on track! That's such an accomplishment. I'm sorry that you are feeling worse again right now. It's normal for it to go up and down, though. If you are worried about bringing it all up again and having it get worse, I'd suggest waiting a little longer to see someone. But if it persists, it's better to seek help now than when you feel too depressed to try. Set up an appointment and you can cancel it if you don't feel like you need it. Starting therapy again doesn't have to be long term – short term, goal oriented therapy has been gaining popularity within the mental health field. (Insurance is responsible, but let's not go there.) So maybe you just need a little "maintenance."<br />
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Take care of yourself and let me know how it goes.

Thanks for those lovely and encouraging words x I am 25 and eight years ago at just 17 i was sectioned! since that i have managed to get myself back on track! I joined this website to read stories similiar to your's. Inhope they will help. This certainly has, it's my last option. I am so scarded of going to the doctors and confessing i feel an emotional wreck and feel i am severly depressed again? x it's a horrible thought that the past will all be brought up again. I'll try to bear in mind te advise you gave, over the next few days. Thanks x

greyskye11: Number four has been the most difficult for me. Part of the problem is that I'm not always aware that I am in a troubled relationship until it's over. I'll know something is wrong, but then justify it or explain it away somehow. I think this is where ob<x>jective input is important... I finally had to make a deal with my therapist that when he sees red flags in a relationship, he has to be very blunt and just tell me. If I'm gonna have an internal debate about it, then I should have someone listening. <br />
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I hope you can work it out. You deserve something good. :)