Didn’t see it coming: As if anxiety and PTSD weren’t enough, major depressive disorder too?
Out of all my mental health conditions, the one I never thought was an option was major depressive disorder (MDD). It crept under the radar, cloaked in my anxiety disorder; at least this is what I thought was the source of my woes. I guess I didn’t see it coming.
I have always been a fairly positive, upbeat person, so it came as a surprise when the psychiatrist diagnosed me with it. However, after exploring the symptoms and looking back on it now, I see it plain as day.
Not only can I see its influence on my life, I can say with certainty that it’s been in the background since adolescence. In my teens, it was masked as moody teen behavior. Perhaps this is why the heavy dread went undetected.
“What’s more imperative is finding ways to minimize its impact on the quality of my life”.
Robbed of energy and full of inexplicable sadness, I rationalized it away by thinking that everyone gets the blues now and again. But “the blues” don’t generally cause mental exhaustion and physical pain, a fact I failed to observe for years.
These depressive episodes only became clear after I was diagnosed with PTSD. It was at this moment when I realized how interwoven the two mental-health disorders were. The trauma I accumulated brought to my attention just how cyclic the moments of “blue” are. I have several episodes a year. How could I have mistaken this for normalcy?
This is a question that I struggle to answer, and now at almost forty-four, I have accepted that I will never know. Honestly, I am okay with that. Its source is now irrelevant. What’s more imperative is finding ways to minimize its impact on my quality of my life.
Although it exacerbates my disconnect to the outside word – a disconnect that comes with the post-traumatic territory, – I work hard so I’m not swept away by its unrelenting feelings of worthlessness.
“Improve your quality of life by doing your best to squeeze every drop of happy out of this life you’ve been given. “
One thing I recommend for you, is talking to those closest to you. Get their feedback on what it is they see about you. For example, you might think that you’re simply tired all the time and that’s why you sleep in a lot. but iis there more to it? Remember, be gentle – you are asking for their help.
Pay attention to how you feel. Really stop and think about it. Am I feeling inexplicably sad and want to cry? Do I feel this way for more than two weeks? Do I withdraw from things I used to love, family get-togethers etc?
If through your investigations you find cause for concern, maybe it’s time to see a mental-health professional. Once you know for sure, you can restart your way down the road to mental wellness.
For me, I do most of the work between the lows so as to help me cope when they hit. Diet and exercise are key players in my recovery. Changing my eating habits has taught me the importance of good food’s health benefits, including mental health.
I know MDD can be discouraging but try and keep in mind it’s not something you can just get over. If in doubt, do some research, and you will discover that it is a real, legitimate illness that can be chronic and debilitating. You didn’t ask for it but you must tackle it. Is every day going to be filled with joy? Not likely, but you can improve your quality of life by doing your best to squeeze every drop of “happy” out of this life you’ve been given.