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the healing journey and the relapse

Posted by bluebutterfly , 26 June 2013 · 129 views

I've never kept a blog before. I'm a writer, so supposedly this should be easy.

I'm so sad right now and fallen into the realm where every day is a battle. It seems like every day is a long list of things to do, and each task is like climbing a mountain. I'm very discouraged that I'm back here.

I'd never told anyone about the trauma I'd experienced when I was nine years old until seven years ago. Seven years ago, my memories started flooding me after a meditation retreat. The first person I told was my fiance at the time, who had a terrible reaction. He was so angry and unsupportive that we broke up a few weeks after I told him. Then I was alone in the apartment we'd shared. And I began my healing process.

The steps in my healing journey: two years of intense, painful therapy. Telling all my closest friends, and by a miracle every one of them was supportive. Somatic coaching. I didn't even know when I started somatic coaching that I spent more than 50% of the time disassociated. I slowly learned not to disassociate, and I am proud to say that at this point I only disassociate under extreme stress and I always know when I'm doing it and also know how to bring myself back.

Depression was different. I've suffered from chronic depression since I was nine, and my brain just seemed to keep going back there as its default response to stress. I started taking Celexa for PTSD and depression in 2007, and though medication made a huge difference with PTSD it only eased the worst of the depression--I continued to suffer from moderate depression.

Last September, I discovered a book called The Depression Cure, by Ilardi. It contains a 12 week step by step program for curing depression through 6 lifestyle changes (taking Omega 3, engaging activities, sunlight, exercise, social support and healthy sleep). I followed the program and within a week I felt better. Within six weeks I was depression-free for the first time since I was nine years old.

I remained depression-free and my life changed rapidly. I moved into my dream apartment in a neighborhood I'd always wanted to live in. I made many new friends. My relationship with my boyfriend improved a lot.

Since I was doing so well, I tapered off the Celexa this winter. I had serious withdrawal symptoms when I went off the Celexa--dizziness, brain zaps, nausea, anxiety. But the symptoms passed about four weeks after the last dose, and I remained depression-free. And I felt a vitality and energy I'd never felt before once I went off the medication. The Celexa cut my energy in half, increased my appetite, lowered my sex drive, and generally made me a bit numb. For the first time, I was able to experience who I was without either depression or medication blunting my feelings and energy.

June 11th was the anniversary of the trauma. Or when it began. I was feeling vulnerable already before the anniversary. I'd made the mistake of going to a family reunion Memorial Day weekend. I never went to family reunions, because they always increased my depression. But I was doing so well that I felt I could handle it. I returned from the event emotionally and physically drained, and unfortunately at that point I had a serious falling out with my boyfriend. So I was already not doing well when June 11th arrived.

I've fallen back into the depression, back to crying about the trauma a lot, to feeling like I will never have a normal life. I've been here many times, but this time is different because I really thought it was over. I thought I would never be depressed again. I feel very demoralized. Nothing seems to work to pull me out of the depression. I'm following every step of the program. I moved to a new city two years ago, so I don't really have support around survivor issues here. But I skyped with two close friends, who know about the trauma.

I'm sorry you had a relapse. The unique thing about the brain is the level of chemicals in it, and how quickly a stressor can deplete, or change the levels with depression quickly following. I have been through certain cycles it seems several times. I've finally realized that I personally will always have the propensity to fall into depression. The other wonderful news is because you have had such success in the past, your chances of feeling less depressed or even happy in the future is good. You can follow every step of the program and that certainly is extremely important, but you may just need a small dose of chemical assistance to get your brain back into a chemically level place. This week I've heard the phrase "mind over matter" and "it's your attitude" until I could scream. People who say this truly do not understand the chemistry of the brain. It would be like trying to tell a diabetic......"Oh just think that your sugar levels are normal" and they will be. The brain is an organ just like any other organ in the body, and even when we are doing everything correct, we still may need medical assistance. I hear your frustration. I have felt and am feeling the same exact frustration. I thought my dissociation was markedly improved, however I've gone through a phase recently that was a step backwards, and this increased my depression. I'm following a very similar program, but I also chose a naturopathic doctor to help me with the chemicals in my body.

Good luck and try not to be to hard on yourself. It sounds like you are doiong a great job by taking care of yourself, and reaching out for support. You are monitoring yourself, and have a history of knowing when to reach out for medical assistance with antidepressants. This speaks volumes to your knowledge of self care.

Jun 27 2013 05:57 AM
Thank you so much, Orchid, for your supportive and thoughtful comments. I'm so sorry you struggle with depression too but you sound like you're handling it wisely. I think the analogy with diabetes is apt--depression is a serious illness and you cannot just snap out of it.
Sending lots of good wishes to you in your own healing journey.

blue butterfly

April 2016

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