Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Do You Think?

I got the oddest email today. About a year ago I wrote an article on At the time I was trying to develop my writing skills and this site is great for that. You can write articles about anything and everything. I decided to write about how I overcame clinical depression.

Since writing the article, several people emailed me thanking me for sharing my powerful story. I never really imagined that anyone would read it but I am glad if it helped anyone. I have often thought about writing a book on the subject but always turned that idea away. There seems to be enough depression books out already on the market.

But today a comment on my article came to me via email, almost a year after I first wrote it. The girl introduced herself as a staffer who works on the Montel Williams show. It seems he is writing a new book where he talks about overcoming depression and is lining up guests to be on the show who have experienced similar feelings. She would like to send me details.

I don't know what to make of this email. I am always skeptical of a scam. So I wrote her back and asked her to give me more details. It does seem strange that she would be emailing me on Dec 3 to come and tape a show on Dec 16. The timing seems too close. I am a terrible skeptic. Still I will see what comes of this and post an update as soon as possible.

Oh and if you would like to read my article, I have posted a copy of it here.

Over ten years ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I knew something was wrong but didn't know what it was. I was going through two very traumatic experiences in my life and thought I was just momentarily sad. It wasn't until the sadness turned really dark and gray and I felt that I was growing out of control. But years later I have recovered and I would like to share how I accomplished this.

I am not a licensed anything so from a medical standpoint I am not qualified to diagnose anything. But I do have experience with my own depression and I feel it is important to reach out to those who are depressed and may not know it. On the other hand perhaps you do know you are depressed and don't know what to do about it.

The first step in recovery is recognizing that you have clinical depression. I have learned that there is a big difference between temporary sadness and clincal depression. For me, I felt depressed even when happy events were occuring around me. I recognized I was depressed when I cried through my niece's baptism. This was a huge, happy event for my family and all I could do was think about myself and cry in the back of the church. I believe this was my wake up moment and when I decided I needed help. The signs of my depression were constant crying and not knowing the reasons for the crying, not being able to sleep, not eating properly, not being able to concentrate and having trouble functioning in life. All of these symptoms occured for me on a regular basis over a long period of time. Some people experience more dire signs such as attempted suicide. If you feel suicidal please call 911 and get more immediate help.

I never experienced feelings of suicide but I did imagine how wonderful life would be if I were not living. The world looked totally gray to me. I didn't appreciate or enjoy living things or life around me. These are additional symptoms that you may be experiencing.

After you identify the symptoms and might suspect you have a clinical depression, the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a good therapist. If you work and have an EAP program, you can find a therapist through the program or your insurance company. You can also look online or get a referral from a friend. You can also enlist the help of a local church or community group that might be able to offer referrals or advice.

When you have picked out a therapist you will need to determine if he/she will be a good fit for you. The first visit with the therapist is key to establishing a lasting relationship. You will need to feel comfortable in order to be able to speak candidly about all that you are feeling. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the therapist. You want to feel hopeful that the therapist is on the same page as you and sharing the same goals as you for your recovery. If you are not comfortable with the therapist do not be afraid to admit it. It's important to remember that a good therapist does not want you to be there unless you really want to be. You won't hurt the therapist's feelings if you decide to go elsewhere. In my own experience, there were a couple of therapists that I felt did not help me move toward recovery so I moved on from them as well and kept trying.

Some therapists might recommend medication. This is strictly up to you and your therapist as to the best treatment. If you don't want to be medicated it is ok to say so to your therapist. You do not have to take medication in order to recover from depression. I did not take medication during my treatment but that was strictly a personal decision.

Talk therapy is a very important part of your treatment. Talk therapy is being able to talk through your feelings to your therapist and allowing the therapist to give you feedback, ask questions and perform techniques to help you work through the pain and depression. Talk therapy is a long process and does take time and patience. In my own experience I did talk therapy for approximately 8 months and eventually transitioned to a point where I started feeling better. Every individual responds differently and may take longer or shorter depending on the intensity of the depression.

Lastly, it helps tremendously to have the help and support of family and friends. Personally, I did not have many friends and I distanced myself from my family during my depression. This prolonged my treatment and if I had to do it all over again, I would have brought my family in closer. It is very easy to push everyone out of your life during this troubling time but it really does help to have them around to comfort you during this difficult time.

You really can recover from clinical depression. It is not easy and does take work but it is manageable and one can recover and lead a happy life.

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