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Forums / Staying well / Share your recovery story here

Topic: Share your recovery story here

11 posts, 0 answered
  1. TorontoUser
    TorontoUser avatar
    1 posts
    1 October 2013

    Disclaimer: this is my recollection, and we are all different. I'm slim, fairly athletic, eat very healthy, exercise moderately regularly, am an engineer, am male, and 40-ish years old.

     

    I am writing this primarily for the benefit of those suffering and perhaps struggling to find hope. I recently really struggled with hope, not finding many success stories on "The Internet", then realised my hypocrisy, in that I had a six-year-long "glowing" recovery story in my back pocket that I never bothered sharing once I had recovered. I notice a lot of people start posts when they just start on medication, then disappear. Presumably a large % of these people did what I did: as soon as they felt better, they turned their back on anything depressing, and returned to living.

     

    I suffered a serious episode of depression seven years ago, and probably with the help of medication, time, and interpersonal psychotherapy with a therapist, recovered and functioned for a good six years before another serious episode. I'll label the episodes A and B. The symptoms of both depressions were text-book clinical:

     

    o impaired ability to think (80% impaired)

    o insomnia

    o social isolation and loss of pleasure/interest in my passions

    o hopelessness

     

    Lifestyle leading to A (seven years ago):

    o working 40-70 hours per week in stressful roles (in a technical field) where I was pushing my brain to learn new material, for about six months

    o trying to support/solve/resolve a relationship that ultimately could not work, for about a year

     

    Lifestyle leading to B: (now)

    o working 40 hours per week (in a technical field) but studying another 40 hours per week, again driving my brain almost non-stop, for about a year

    o trying to support/solve/resolve a relationship that ultimately could not work, for about a year

     

    I must admit that ALL through the above I had and still have dysthymia and fluctuating mood, but not debilitating (in my case, not physical, but mental: not being able to think or handle stress) clinical depression, and my recollection is that the mood stabiliser in small doses actually helped (dissolved) some of my dysthymia (made everything a bit easier). Truly. 

     

     

    Episode A:

    ----------

    I was started on a therapeutic dose of anti-depressant and mood-stabiliser for sleep. The latter immediately gave me sleep I was missing for weeks and weeks. I recovered slowly but steadily. I returned to work in a month, in limited functionality. I got into a new sport - swimming - and found a therapist I really identified with. I remember two or three months later at times I felt top of the world. I had my wits back, and felt level enough to do anything. I actually felt *advantaged*, as if I was a drug cheat. To be a purist, I slowly tapered-down the doses of both drugs. Six months later I was on a maintenance dose of the anti-depressant and mood-stabiliser. I later tapered the anti-depressant to zero and only took the mood-stabiliser at a small dose for sleep as needed. I gained a touch of weight while taking the medications, but I quickly lost it all and returned to my previous weight.

     

    The psychotherapy exercised my brain and the therapist very skilfully guided me to get in touch with my emotions, to have a better feel of myself and the emotional world around me, and there were moments where I was overcome with emotion so much so I could not speak. Living more of an emotional life (i.e. based on love) became more important to me. In the West we spend most of our lives denying our emotions.

     

    The following year I went travelling for three months on my own (armed with the mood-stabiliser, which seemed to help my depression when I felt a bit down, worked full time in my old challenging profession, worked in another city (commuting home on weekends by plane), and then quit work and moved cities to return to school to complete a post-graduate engineering degree in a field of my dreams. I was nearly 40 years of age, and I did all this with almost no help from anyone else. I had my wits, and a bucket-load of energy.

     

    Episode B:

    ----------

    Recent, and I re-started on the same doses of the same medications. I tried two anti-depressants, prior, this episode, but I did not feel well on them. Two weeks later at the end of a very satisfying family lunch I suddenly just felt good. Exactly as advertised by anti-depressant literature, my spontaneous (gut) interest in things and zest for life and the unknown returned, life was just automatically easier, my sleep was corrected, and I was relatively happy. It is extremely difficult to articulate the state. Maybe that's why descriptions of what anti-depressants actually can do are hard to find. Honestly, I was surprised. IMO at the very least the medications restored my sleep, and at the most they gave my brain what it needed to heal, and I think heal is an appropriate word because when I was depressed, I just couldn't pick up anything complicated with my mind and think about it/work on it. I think the medications improved my state of being.

     

    My side-effects to both medications have reduced to almost zero: a slight sexual effect, a slight weight gain (3 lbs), I sometimes sweat (full-body) at night, and I have more appetite for tasty things like bakery pastries. Otherwise, I am unchanged. Amazing. This after three weeks of being on the certain combination of medication.

     

    I hastily decided my brain was all-healed and began tapering the mood stabiliser down to 3/4 of the therapeutic dose, and in the following days my mood sank. I then re-tapered the up again (yesterday) and immediately feel better. I'll stay on this dose for a while before thinking about tapering.

     

    I'll post an update when I have something more to share.

  2. The Real David Charles
    The Real David Charles avatar
    1014 posts
    3 October 2013 in reply to TorontoUser

    Dear Toronto,

    Best sentence for me:  "found a therapist I really identifed with".    Not often covered in all the "try some talking therapy" advice.

    Adios, David.

    PS Both Sydney/Toronto have revolving high scraper restaurants.   Pretty envious of you 2 hrs from the Niagra Falls - what a great place to chill.

  3. Free2live
    Free2live avatar
    1 posts
    19 July 2014

    Hello TorontoUser, 

    I'm also a Toronto User, by a different username of course.. I'm not sure if you're still active on this site, but I wanted to comment that this is exactly what I was looking for... a success story.. which is one of the most important of all facts when searching for help with depression and anxiety.. from what I've read, and experienced it is the lack of hope in recovery that keeps a person in this continuous suffering.. and hope is what we truly need.. 

    I've often felt that I just didn't have what it takes to control my negative thoughts, in order to changing my life for the better, what is lacking in me that I cannot hold and maintain a positive outlook? I hope for hope.. and look to hear more and more success stories so that I too can believe it is possible for myself.. and that I can engage with the living...

    Thank you for posting your story.. it gave me reason to register to this site.. 

    I hope your success continues, upward and onward.. may the force be with you.  

  4. AGrace
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    AGrace avatar
    1214 posts
    20 July 2014 in reply to Free2live

    Hi,

    I get a bit reluctant to use the word recovery as it seems to elude to a miracle cure to all of life's ailments. Despite this I'd like to share my story and invite others to do the same.

    I'll briefly explain my experience with mental illness. Things started to go wrong in my life at the age of 6. Since then I've battled the crippling effects of grief,  PTS, Depression, Anxiety,  Anorexia, and BPD. I've known despair, intense sadness, an anxiousness that kept me house bound and constantly on edge with fear and worry. I've experienced every emotion in its extreme, I've used destructive coping mechanisms, said goodbye to friends, caused worry in the minds and hearts of loved ones.

    Treatment has been hospital admissions to stop the clock and provide a sense of safety. Outpatient programs: a sense of belonging, a better understanding of the little things I can do to assist myself in my darkest moments. My Psychiatrist and Psychologist have helped me with aspects of life that have contributed to my struggles, and the chance to open up and share my experiences without judgement. Medication has provide balance and strength to reduce suffering. Chatting with friends and family has helped me to learn what they can do to assist me, and increased their understanding. Support programs helped me know my illnesses,  and hear others' perspectives. Joining the BB forums has given me an outlet to share and contribute. Slowly I have added to this with healthy eating, sleeping, exercise and time, as none of this happens overnight.

    Life now looks different. I've reconnected with friends, learned that if I can't get out of bed one day that's ok. I am now planning for a future that months ago I didn't know I'd have. Getting involved in groups, helping others, Iearning from mistakes. I wake up smiling and know that I don't have to feel extatically happy every day but I'm starting to experience incredible joy in things that I never thought possible. I push myself, I do things despite my mood. 

    The most important realisation I've made is that I have to use the skills I've learnt every day. Mindfulness, meditate, distress tolerance, ACT, challenge my thoughts, and continue to talk about day to day challenges. if I give these things up then its only natural I'd fall into a heap again.

    I'm now looking at studying, returning to work, & starting a family.

    There is hope, and it still gets me through every day. Like you I'm keen to hear others stories. 

    AGrace

  5. AGrace
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    AGrace avatar
    1214 posts
    20 July 2014 in reply to AGrace

    Just wanted to add to this how amazed I am to see that this thread has had over 4000 views. I'd be interested to hear what others have thought when reading the above posts about recovery. 

    AG

  6. Kitty23
    Kitty23 avatar
    6 posts
    20 July 2014 in reply to TorontoUser

    Thanks for posting your story TorontoUser 

    I was diagnosed with Periodic Severe Depression due to PTSD 22yrs ago. Unlike some people, my episodes of Depression come back when I'm under stress. However, I work full time as a Paralegal, my weight is ok for my height, I eat healthy & exercise for an hour 4times a week, my job has this wonderful gym & the entire organisation is health-oriented.

    However, any stress brings episodes back, the intensity varies. I will need to be on medication for the rest of my life, despite all my best efforts I don't seem to be able to get well and I am finding it difficult to hope at the moment. I've changed my life-style, avoid alcohol, I've a good routine, but I'm not controlling or disorganised. I don't take my dark moods out on others & when I do, which happens occasionally, I apologise & I know is time to retreat & regroup. I am reasonable & amiable but the illness is there - the black dog that never really leaves me.

    Now I'm looking to celebrating 25yrs of managing this illness (in 3yrs) and I'm exhausted. I find no joy in anything and I rarely laugh - I was lucky to be diagnosed early in life, but I'm almost 42yo and I can say that I've tried everything & yet. I will start to learn Acceptance & Commitment Therapy based on mindfulness now, but hoping for the best is a struggle.

    I'm glad you got on top of your Depression. As you said, there are different types and we all got here for different reasons. In my case managing to the best of my ability is the best I can achieve.

    Kind regards,

    Kitty.

     

  7. Snoman
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Snoman avatar
    201 posts
    28 July 2014 in reply to Kitty23

    I think recovery stories are indeed great sources of hope. But, as TorontoUser said:

    "...a lot of people start posts when they just start on medication, then disappear. Presumably a large % of these people did what I did: as soon as they felt better, they turned their back on anything depressing, and returned to living."

     

    Perhaps a sticky thread of recovery stories would help remind people to come back and post their stories.

    I see Amber's point on "recovery". In my case, I don't think I can be complacent enough to consider that I will be "cured". I do think I am nearly in remission from my second episode and I plan to stay ever vigilant and aware of what my black dog is doing so that he never takes control again.

  8. AGrace
    Champion Alumni
    • Community champion volunteers who are not currently active on the forums.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    AGrace avatar
    1214 posts
    28 July 2014 in reply to Snoman

    Hi Snoman,

    You make some good points. Sometimes we have to trust that if people are no longer posting then maybe they no longer require the benefits that the forums can provide. 

    I don't take a day for granted, and am conscious that I can be hit by a relapse at any time. I think I just focus less on the illness now and more on the continuity of treatment. 

    I think it's up to us to keep posts like this one alive by keeping others up to date with our recovery progress. 

    One of the things that's keeping me well is contributing and giving back, the forums here help me do this. 

    AGrace

  9. sadgirlhappy
    sadgirlhappy avatar
    5 posts
    6 August 2014 in reply to Snoman
    I agree, I posted a year ago when I was on meds and after I stopped them I didn't come back. But it's not because they worked, in fact, they nearly destroyed my life. I had every adverse affect under the sun. I went au naturale. I've undergone a huge journey since then, and I guess I felt that the forums were truly great, but for some reason "getting better" was all down to me and I kind of 'attacked' it from all angles. I'm not about to tell you try this try that - as I think everyone has their own journey, and what works for me might not work for you. I am much better now but not entirely "well". My biggest struggle now is the HUGE disconnection I am trying to bridge between me and my loved ones. My boyfriend and a friend here in Melbourne who I never realised would be able to help me turned out to be my biggest supporters. Everyone else was.... well, rubbish to be honest. But I have had to forgive them (W.I.P). Not that they'd know I was angry. I don't tell them. But I am hurt. They don't know any better. Is that arrogant? I don't know how else to deal with it.... I also did acupuncture. I still couldn't fathom doing proper exercise, but I walked every week. It was just work/home with bf/walk. For about a year. And that felt like Mt Everest. I have to say, acupuncture really worked for me. It took about 6 months of weekly sessions but it had a mind-clearing affect and allowed my nervous system to have a kind of 'pressure valve' release. It was just a support mechanism, along with several others. I started analysing my dreams. I write them down and use dreammoods.com and other sources to interpret them. I find this extremely valuable in the absence of a pyschologist, or a willing/non-judgemental listener. I was able to watch myself heal, learn my shame triggers that were leading me to spiral down. I can recommend some books (obvs not going to solve your world, but every little step helps):- Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown - i thought it was just me, by Brene Brown (she is great), - The Complete Dream Book, by Gillian Holloway- The Mystery of Mercy Close, by Marian Keyes (she's a chicklit writer, but suffers from depression & this book is based on a depressed character & it's FUNNY).Anywho, hope some of this helps. I had a bit of a shame trigger happen today at work and I guess that's why I'm back here to check in with you lot. I've come to realise - handling my depression is a lifestyle choice, not a temp fix. It took me 10 years to realise this.
  10. burntout78
    burntout78 avatar
    1 posts
    14 August 2015
    Hi Toronto...looks like you haven't visited for a while so hope you are well. Can you share what meds you had success with as I feel my experience of work burnout/depression seems very similar. Getting to a point where I need to take some action as I feel I am not functioning very well.
  11. Chris B
    Community Manager
    • Works for beyondblue managing these forums. Not a mental health professional, but here to help. Email: christopher.banks@beyondblue.org.au
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Chris B avatar
    1757 posts
    16 August 2015 in reply to burntout78
    Hi burntout78, welcome to the forums and sorry to hear you're not doing so well at the moment. Discussing details of medication is against our community rules, so you won't be able to find that kind of advice on here - this is best discussed with your health professional. You'll find lots of other stories and tips on keeping well, though, please keep exploring the threads and start your own if you have a specific question you'd like answered.

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