Sometimes it feels like it has been a long 20 years of living with depression and it's related challenges. Today feels like it's been far too long. I have been lucky enough to experience periods of reprieve, times of fresh perspective and times of stability. I believe I am still in a healthy place despite some major life challenges. But, even with these periods of relative calm and good mental health, there is something ever-present, the fear and stigma of depression.
Chronic pain and illness create depression, and I live with all of them. I have shared with you before that depression has been with me for a long time now. My last major bout of depression was in 2006, but I, like so many others, still live with the less severe aspects of depression on an ongoing basis. I want to talk to you about my last experience with a major depressive episode because it is greatly linked to a co-morbid condition I have. I know others also relate to chronic pain and other illness creating depression.
One of the most horrific aspects of major depressive disorder (MDD) is the severe stages of it, when the pain is most unbearable and so intense that a person feels like it would be better if life were over. It is truly one of the most terrifying of experiences to live in that space between fighting to live and fighting to die. But there are also challenging times living with major depressive disorder that are not quite so dramatic, yet still difficult and require an extra sort of energy to manage.
It's a bit daunting to say the word "never", especially when we are referring to depression. Depression has an element of surprise and the benefit of disguise in it's arsenal, but there is a part of me that believes I never have to go back, that I never will experience the darkest depths of depression ever again.
It has occurred to me recently, that I am often faced with choices in my life that have the potential to greatly influence my experience with depression. Each day, I face choices, sometimes simple, sometimes more complex, that could take me down a road towards depression or lead me away from it. The power of these choices is remarkable.