When You Feel Like Your Depression Will Never Get Better
Since my diagnosis of severe depression a little over a year ago, I’ve been struggling mightily to get on the path toward some level of recovery. One of the biggest problems I’ve faced is an inescapable feeling that my disorder is different, that what works for others won’t work for me, that even if I stay dedicated to the work of getting better, things won’t ever change. Letting those thoughts dominate inevitably sends me toward an inescapable hopelessness for my future, and it pushes me in the direction of suicidal ideation. It’s a slippery slope argument — one that I can always point out in conversations about my disorder with my therapist and friends — but it feels so real to me that I struggle to manage it.
I’ve taken tremendous pride in my ability to reason through problems for my entire life, and depression has robbed me of that ability when it comes to my recovery. No amount of rational thinking is able to overcome the visceral feeling of despair I have when I try to imagine a better life for myself and come away with nothing. It’s a profoundly disturbing feeling, when someone asks me to imagine an ideal life and having my thoughts rob the positivity of any idea I come up with.
“I would love to work at a job that makes the world a better place,” I say.
“Well good luck being able to pay any bills or having any fun,” my depression responds.
“I want to live in an area that I can be active outside every day,” I say.
“Just wait until you get too hurt or too old to be able to do those things,” my depression responds.
“I want to find a life partner I truly love,” I say.
“You mean settle for someone that tolerates how much of a burden you are in relationships,” my depression responds.
“I want to have friends to share memories with,” I say.
“How are you going to make friends when the only thing you can manage on a Friday night is watching TV?” my depression responds.
That’s the particularly insidious thing about depression, it can respond to your thoughts with negativity faster than anyone else can encourage you. You can’t stop those thoughts from happening — it’s like trying not to think about an elephant on command. I spent far too long trying to stop them, or hoping that some combination of medication would stop them.
I’m not a religious person, as the product of a mixed religion family I couldn’t reconcile one side of my family being “saved” and another being “damned,” so I abandoned faith in religion altogether. However, during my road to recovery, I realized that there was another use for faith than believing in religious principles. If I placed my faith in my therapist, in my friends, in my family, in the stories of recovery from others dealing with depression, it gave me a way to drown out the negative thoughts of depression.
I still don’t enjoy much about my life, I still don’t have many close relationships, and I still don’t feel like things are getting better; but I have faith in the journey that I’m on. I’m on a path that others have mapped before me, and if I keep following it then things will get better. I can have faith in other’s experiences when my own try and pull me off this path.
And that’s what will get me to the gym, to the office, to the after-work get together, to the grocery store, to the kitchen, or just to the shower (on my worst days).
I know I have depression and I feel hopeless about my future, but I have faith it will get better anyway, so I persist. I take the next step down the path. I don’t give in.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
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Getty image via Chalabala