My official diagnosis for my depression is called Dysthymia. It is considered a chief form of depression, but it usually “has fewer or less serious symptoms than major depression but lasts longer.”
My first bout of depression went from roughly 2008 to 2010. I had a different therapist at the time and she suggested that I take a medication called Wellbutrin. I was really hesitant at first, but I figured that I would give it a try. Though it really helped me mentally, it was still a disaster physically. I was lucky enough to get the side effect of excessive sweating.
I could and would start sweating at the drop of a hat for no good reason other than the fact that I walked one block, downhill. It was mortifying. To make matters worse, it took me months to figure out what was going on. I thought I was going through early menopause (I was in my 30’s).
I never experienced a side effect to a medication before, so the thought never even occurred to me. Once I did figure it out, I immediately went off of it. Still to this day, outside of working out, I still get really embarrassed when I sweat because I am an awful head-sweater. I really dread menopause.
This second bout of depression hit me like a wall of bricks in 2010 and when my doctor started to talk to me about medication, I said an emphatic “HELL NO!” to Wellbutrin. I ended up with Lexapro instead. Thankfully, I don’t think I had any noticeable side effects and stayed on it until August of 2013.
Despite the troubles I had, I’m grateful for the medication because I don’t know how I could have functioned without it. That and therapy, of course.
Now my depressive episodes are fewer and significantly shorter. I feel like I am able to notice when I start spiraling and work through it with as much compassion and acceptance for myself that I can muster.
The only area where I feel like I really struggle still is with work. I’ve made mention how much I hate my job and it’s super easy for me to spiral down into a depression where I will ruminate for days in a very vicious spiral of negativity, anxiousness, and helplessness. It’s not fun, believe me. I believe I had my first panic attack while working about two weeks ago and I never, ever want to experience that again.
Last week, I got the idea to start journaling again, but not just any journaling. I decided to get back into the practice of writing Morning Pages again. Morning Pages is a technique that I learned years ago when I was doing The Artist’s Way. You basically write in a stream of consciousness for three pages first thing in the morning.
I modified it a bit and instead of writing three pages, I write for 15 minutes. So far I’ve done it twice and I find that getting those negative thoughts down on paper, gets them out of my head so I can focus during the day. Now it hasn’t changed my attitude about my job, but at least I can focus a bit more and get it done.