First Anniversary – A Year Of Being Treated For Depression

Since I have been in therapy for six months now, we did a little retrospective session yesterday. First, my therapist asked me to recount the events that led to me getting in contact with him, so I started with the three big panic attacks I suffered during the night exactly a year ago – it’s actually the first anniversary today. On June 24, 2010 I went to see my general physician about it and started with antidepressants the following day.

Looking back, I am glad about those panic attacks. As awful as it felt, without them, I would never have gone to the doctor, who urged me to start psychotherapy every time I saw him over the summer.

I proceeded to talk about the problems I had deciding what kind of treatment I wanted and that after finding contact information for a CBASP programme at the hospital online, I called as soon as possible because I knew I would not bring up the courage anymore if I waited for too long. The diagnostic phase started, with lots of tests to classify my psychological problems, I got off the antidepressant and a week before Christmas, we had the first session.

The next step was listing everything I had learned during those six months:
– talking about my problems and describing them
– asking for help
– understanding my own behavioural patterns and how people react to them
– understanding the depressive symptoms and handling them
– modifying my own behaviour if necessary
– becoming a more “visible” presence
– respecting and expressing my needs

It’s a topic that has been on my mind since my birthday last month. The change happens gradually most of the time and I can hardly tell a difference from one week to the next, but if looking at longer periods, there is a very clear distinction between then and now, and people notice. My therapist said I stopped “being on the run from other people”, my boyfriend commented that I seemed more self-confident these days, etc.
I also notice it myself – I do not sleep 12 hours every day as I did last autumn, but “only” 9 hours per night. I have more energy and can take care of myself better. Even if I have bad days, I know that they are going to end again eventually. Not everything is bleak anymore, not everything doomed to fail. I actually want something from life again.
The one situation that made me realize how much I had altered already actually took place 10 minutes before my session started: I was at the hospital cafeteria, counting coins for getting a bottle of coca cola from a vending machine because I needed some caffeine before the session. My therapist walked in, wanting to buy a cup of coffee, and he was so lost in thought that he didn’t see me. Just a few months ago, I would have hidden somewhere until he left again – or at least pretended I had not noticed him either, so that if he would say something, I could act surprised to find him standing next to me. For a second, I didn’t know what to do, then I simply looked at him and said hello.
For someone not suffering from depression and/or social anxiety, this must sound very trivial, but to me it was a big deal, and clearly to my therapist as well, because he commented how nice it was that I had said something and brought it up in the session again.

Starting therapy was definitely the right decision and I am really grateful for getting help.

2 thoughts on “First Anniversary – A Year Of Being Treated For Depression

  1. Wow. Such a great post. I’m so happy for you. Awareness is a double-edged sword. Without it, you can’t change, but it can make life hell sometimes. It’s amazing just how much progress you’ve made in the past six months. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy, but so very worth it.

    I’m proud of you.

  2. Thank you so much! šŸ˜€

    You are right, awareness is not always a blessing. With awareness, there comes responsibility. There are moments when I want to say, “Screw this, I don’t want to do the right thing anymore. I want to sit in a corner and feel sorry for myself. I want to give up for a while and go back to what I know…” Even though depression makes you feel awful, the familiarity of it seduces you into wishing you could revisit it occasionally, and then you have to fight the urge.
    It also sucks when you know you are doing worse, you even know why, but it still doesn’t change anything about how you feel, because for some reason or other, you cannot help acting the way you do, or simply cannot change your circumstances. It can be incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, most of the time it helps rather than hinders me.

    But, no matter how difficult, I’d do it all again.

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