emerging from depression
Since I did the program in The Depression Cure 9 months ago, I've given myself a depression test every week. The lower the score, the better. 10 or below is considered depression-free. I scored below 10 almost every week since finishing the program--just a couple of times I got a score of 13 or 16 and then I would immediately redouble the self-care and the score would drop again.
Around the time of the anniversary, I suddenly scored a 22. Last week I scored a 38. I've been feeling completely discouraged because I always thought that if I started to relapse I would catch it before it got out of control.
This week I scored a 27, which is still very high but I guess I'm going in the right direction?
I feel better today than I did yesterday. I started seeing a personal trainer at my gym a couple of weeks ago in the hopes that working on exercise and nutrition would help. I was so depressed while talking to my trainer during the first session that I could barely focus on what she was saying. And while I enjoyed the workouts, the additional exercise didn't seem to be helping--I felt just as unhappy. Plus, I found my trainer very irritating personally--I felt like she kept talking about fun things she was doing with her husband which depressed me further since I'm having serious problems in my current relationship.
However, yesterday I met with her and I did feel much better after our session. We talked about nutrition for the first time and I started to feel hopeful that eating more healthily would improve my mood and help me pull out of this depression. I also really enjoyed the workout and could tell that even though it was only my fourth session, I'd already made a lot of progress.
Since my mood was better in the afternoon, I made plans to see a friend for dinner tonight and to see my boyfriend on Sunday. I also cleaned my apartment a bit. I've gotten to this point before though, where I would start to feel better and I would relapse again. I am going to track what happens this time because I've started to suspect that I'm deliberately sabotaging myself when I start to pull out of the depression.
This is very hard for me to explain to other people, but after suffering from depression since I was nine years old I'm very afraid to be depression-free. For one thing, I've never been depression-free as an adult. Being depressed is familiar--I know how to manage my life as a depressed person. Once I felt better, I was able to do much more and that was scary. I started to expect a lot more for myself. And feel hopeful about the future. I don't know if it's safe for me to feel hopeful. I was a very bright, hopeful, curious child and terrible things happened for no apparent reason and without warning. To me, being hopeful about the future spells disaster--if I have no hope, I can never be hurt.
I do want to be depression-free again. I want to be happy and I want to live up to my potential. But it's actually very triggering for me to emerge from the depression. I feel unsafe--like I've stepped out of a grey cocoon. The cocoon was unpleasant, but it was familiar. I think that's why the relapse happened at the time of the anniversary. If it hadn't been for the depression, I wouldn't have survived--I wouldn't have been able to handle all the trauma in my life and the complete lack of resources and help. Depression shut down my feelings, cutting off my anger and grief. Depression and disassociation numbed me and meant I could handle intolerable situations and keep functioning.
I think that as I emerge from this depressive episode, I'm going to have to find ways to make myself feel safer and reassure myself. That explains why I was vulnerable to relapse after being around my extended family--I feel very unsafe around family. And also why my falling out with my boyfriend left me additionally vulnerable. I'm in a city where I've only lived for two years, and he's the person I'm closest to and feel safest with.