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The Last Thing to Return After a Depressive Episode

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I know when I am getting ill. It is when slowly life drains away. I start getting irritable, angry and stressed at the smallest of things. My life begins to atrophy as I cope less.

First to go are all my good habits, eating well, exercising, meditation and prayer. My hobbies and out of work activities are next, as the toxic cocktail of anxiety, grief and tiredness swallow up my reserves. Finally, I am no longer able to work, to leave the house, to make the simplest of decisions without a full melt down. It’s like I have to do life with an elephant sitting on my chest. To make it worse, it’s the same elephant in the room no one will talk about. Life becomes grey, frightening and hopeless. It is a place I hate and do all I can to avoid.

Time passes, and so does a depressive episode. I get to a point of do or die and with the help of God, my husband and some time to recuperate. I am able to take up good habits again and slowly crawl out of the pit. I am able to take up my life again, enjoy simple things like dog walking and my creative hobbies. As I gain strength, I am able to interact with people other than at work and home.

The last thing to return is joy. A friend and fellow sufferer put it well, joy is like taste. Just as taste allows me to experience a good curry, so joy allows me to truly experience life to the full. Once again, I can feel wonder at the sunlight spilling through trees or be amazed at the hairy caterpillar I noticed on my way home from a shop. Once again, I can experience delight at other people’s blessings or successes. I am once again lifted in worship when I sing in church.

Joy. It’s the moment I know I am truly well.

Originally published: July 20, 2016
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