Eight-and-a-half months ago, I came very close to ending my life. I don’t feel as far from that as I thought I would by this time. Of course, I didn’t foresee a global pandemic upending the lives of people around the world. A report I read earlier today said depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are increasing in the general population during this time.
I’ve transitioned depression and anxiety medications, which I knew would be uncomfortable. I told my doctor I don’t want to make any medication changes for a couple months, because I feel the need for stabilized levels of chemicals in my brain, both those targeted pharmaceutically and those unaffected directly.
It’s not unusual for recovery from a major depressive episode to take several months or a year, and continued care with a doctor is necessary as long as you’re on prescription medicine. I know this. I’ve been through two previous bouts of major depression and recovered to enjoy long periods of health, including the ups and downs of life we all face.
This time around has been the worst, dismantling my theory that, given past experience and an M.S. in counseling, a thorough understanding of depression, its course, and coming out the other side would somehow inoculate me from future episodes. I felt like, “I got this.” Oh, the hubris.
Now I’ve learned even more about this illness; namely, the patient doesn’t get to choose whether or not to take this on nor how long it will take to heal. Perhaps, since this has been the deepest, darkest depression I’ve encountered, it may take longer for return to baseline. My journey is complicated by fibromyalgia, which worsened significantly following the acute stress disorder last fall that kickstarted the suicidal depression.
Here I am, feeling like a shadow of my former self. These quiet months at home are an opportunity for me to further develop patience, humility, and self-acceptance of warts and all. I hope I will continue to improve and get stronger, strong enough to walk out of the shadows and back into the light.