This is in no way medical advice, and I am not a medical professional. Please contact your health practitioner for help if you are having difficulty with depression.
I've been alternately working on this post and hiding from it for more than a month. I suppose when I started this series, I was expecting to share my experience, wisdom (Ha!), and resources on the matter. This post would be about what worked for me along with some other things out there because treatment can be very different for each individual. The fact is I've been thrown back into learning, researching, and trial and error as my depression has gone from fairly well-managed to not so much.
I recently read The Ghost in the House: Motherhood, Raising Children, and Struggling with Depression. It was both jarring and enlightening. Tracy Thompson wrote,
"Depression never gets licked in a day; sometimes you just have to hang in there. But small victories are crucial. One small action here (deciding to get out of bed) combined with another action there (taking your medications, spending fifteen minutes with your child) creates synergy. Individually, no one thing will get you well - a fact that can be paralyzing. But put two or three points together, and the sum of the individual effects is mysteriously magnified."
I'm a Make It or Break It junkie. It's a gymnastics show on ABC Family geared to girls much younger than myself. It's okay, you can laugh. Without going into too much background, in the season finale one of the gymnasts, Kaylie, comes clean to the public about her eating disorder and performs her floor routine triumpantly at World's clinching the USA team's win. Of course I was on the edge of my seat watching the whole thing (I wasn't kidding when I said I was a junkie), but I was especially struck by the song to which Kaylie performed her comeback floor routine. I actually went and looked it up after the fact which is not something I normally do.
I was surprised to find it was by Superchick, a mainstreamed Chritian group I saw perform at a ELCA Lutheran National Youth Gathering years back. Christian pop music is really not my thing (seriously, my husband laughed pretty hard when he heard who the song was by and that I was listening to it), but this song used to illustrate Kaylie's fight with an eating disorder hit home with my fight with depression. There's no mention of God, Jesus or Christianity in the lyrics of this or most of Superchick's song, but they identify as a group with Christan values.
All this to say, there are a lot of steps and pieces to treating and coping with depression. These are some of the tools that have been shown to help people in their journeys.It feels like I have lost this fight
They think that I am staying down
But I'm not giving up tonight
Tonight the wall is coming down
I am stronger than my fears
This is the mountain that I climb
Got 100 steps to go
Tonight I'll make it 99
Go one more
Don't stop now
Go one more
Go one more
Go one more
I have everything to lose
By not getting up to fight
I might get used to giving up
So I am showing up tonight
I am my own enemy
The battle fought within my mind
If I can overcome step one
I can face the 99
Medication and Counseling
The mainstream medical community relies on these as the main treatment options for depression. After my diagnosis with postpartum depression, I used both. A few things to remember: there are so. many. medication options. It is not one-size-fits-all. It often takes trial and error with the help of your medical practitioner. The same goes for counseling. It is not one-size-fits-all. There are different types of talk therapy including but not limited to various types of both psychotherapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy. Plus, each therapist has a different personality, different life experience, and different values.
It's one more piece that makes fighting depression hard. Just getting yourself to a doctor or a counselor is not the only step. It's an important step, but it's just the beginning. It can be discouraging to have bad experiences with various medications, doctors, or therapists. It takes so much work for someone suffering to get themselves there, and when they do not find the relief or support they need it can be devastating.
I have yet to find a therapist that I connected with doing a type of therapy that works for me. And to say the process of trying to find that is exhausting is a huge understatement. Also counseling and talk therapy can be cost-prohibitive for many with some health insurances not covering it or not covering it well. Medication was an important tool for me at one point and may be again, but I also disliked how the medication made me feel. Without it, my downs were lower, yes, but my ups were higher. I suddenly had an ability to be truly joyful again. My husband noticed it, too. It was like someone had taken me off of mute.