It just occurred to me to write this blog post because I thought it would interest a lot of people. You hear the word “recovery” and you may have an idea about what it means, but once recovery happens…what’s next?
I was diagnosed with depression around 2005/2006, and I dealt with it up until 2011. That means that I recovered from depression, right? So is it just gone? What is my life like now?
I graduated from high school in 2007 with astoundingly good grades for someone who struggled with depression for half of her high school career, but after high school until my recovery were extremely rough. I attempted college several times, I tried to have a “normal” life, but the majority of my time was spent in bed or on the couch at home. I had no idea what to do with myself.
Once I decided that I was done with this stupid thing called “depression,” that I was done not living my life, that I was done with medication, I switched therapists. I’d been seeing my first therapist from about 2005/2006 up until the spring of 2011, but I felt like I needed a change. I found a great therapist who I saw for only a couple months that summer. She set goals for me (such as sending in college applications, making plans with friends and following through, etc.) which was a HUGE help for me. Once I started getting out and doing things for myself, I saw a massive improvement. This point was also made in an article that I recently read called Dealing With Depression: “It’s the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There’s a difference, however, between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible.” Was it difficult for me to put myself out there and try to live a happy and “normal” life? YES! It was extremely difficult (the social anxiety didn’t help much, either), but it was not impossible. I did it, and I am much better today because I did it. There is no change without some kind of struggle, and although it may be painful, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be absolutely worth it in the end.
Since I recovered from depression in 2011, I have had my longest and best relationship (we’re going on three and a half years), I made it through three years of college (in a row! I never thought I’d be able to do it), graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree, managed to balance extremely busy schedules, and I just got hired for my first “adult” job. Does depression still affect me? It tries to once in a while, but I won’t let it. Times like this past month where I’m pretty much stuck in the house by myself are not ideal times, and during times like these I can feel my depression try to creep back in, but now I know how to control it. The first time this happened it really scared me because there is no way that I’m going back down that road, but when I looked at the situation and said, “Okay, why am I starting to feel this way again? Well, I have been pretty much in the house by myself for the past couple weeks…” When I’m out, I’m fine, but I realized it’s being stuck in the house that’s caused my depression to try to re-surface. Okay, I can control that. I’ve come to know the signs that it may be trying to re-surface, I know both emotionally and physically how I feel when I’m depressed. I use breathing techniques and emotion regulation skills that I learned in therapy in my everyday life– I’m not always conscious that I’m doing it because I’ve practiced these skills for many years. It’s very helpful to have a toolbox like that to draw from. Learning how to keep everything under control is a huge key to recovery and to life after recovery.
I hope this gave some insight into at least one perspective of life after recovery from depression. Please do not hesitate to leave a comment or email me any questions that you have (firstname.lastname@example.org).