Saturday 20 April 2013

"Deja Vu (Here I Go Again)"

Déjà vu, literally "already seen", is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced had been experienced in the past.

It all seems so familiar. The fatigue and lethargy, the aches and pains, the trails of tears and the sadness. It's almost like I have been here before.

Well, I have been here before - many times. Where is here? Here is depression - a sad, dark place. But this time is a little different. Hmm. Interesting twist on things.

“That is all I want in life: for this pain to seem purposeful.”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

You know the old visual of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other shoulder? That's how I can best describe depression in my life. For the better part of 20 years, the devil has been there. Sometimes he rests in the background. Sometime he inches closer. And sometimes he grips me tight, lowering a heavy cloak of sadness over me.

While I have been busy blogging about mental illness in the workplace and the impact on others and attempting to balance demands at work, I have been quietly fighting the progression of mild depression and anxiety.

So how common is recurrence in depression? Isn't it just a one time thing that happens, you get treatment, you are all better, and then you live happily ever after? The University of Michigan Depression Center states, "Studies indicate that patients who are diagnosed with depression face a significant risk that their depression will recur over time." Awesome.

Some of the reasons why depression can recur:
* You may have stopped your treatment plan because you thought you were "all better". Usually you feel "all better" because your treatment plan is working - stopping it can end the feel better part. (NOTE: never stop medication without consulting your doctor - it can be very dangerous)
* You may have a history of mental illness in your family in which case you may be predisposed to it.
* Perhaps you thought it was just a one time thing, like a bad flu. Once it was over you just went back to your old habits.

In my case, I have a family history and I have already experienced a number of depressive episodes, which can also impact whether or not the illness recurs. Long ago I accepted that this is a chronic illness for me - just like my mom and her diagnosis of diabetes.

I may be accepting but make no mistake, I will fight, kicking and screaming, before I end up in another major depressive episode. So what am I doing to catch this so that it doesn't become something much worse? Well, step one was to hightail it back to my doctor's office. We decided together to change my medication and I will resume cognitive behavioural therapy again. I am also going to focus much more on the physical well being - exercise, meditation, and massage therapy. And, thankfully, I have a strong community surrounding me whom I can lean on: family, friends, colleagues, and my Partners For Mental Health family.

So what is different this time? I feel all those things that I wrote about above - the classic hallmarks of depression and anxiety. The tears are often at the ready to spill forward. The sadness I can't shake. I am so tired that I am sleeping about six hours during the day. I can't concentrate (it's taken me four days to write this post and it usually takes two hours). And I am on the tail end of a back spasm resulting from stress and anxiety. Oh, right - the difference.

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without words and never stops at all." ~ Emily Dickinson

I feel hopeful. As my Dad said to me this week, "You have been through this before and you know you can do it." He's right. Today is a new day.

KB xo

This post is dedicated to my Dad who came into the city to sleep on my couch so that I wouldn't be alone. I love you, Dad.

P.S. The University of Michigan Depression Center has a great website full of resources and information about depression:


  1. Oh that dedication brought tears to my obviously appreciate how lucky you are to have that kind of support...and how lucky you are to have your dad in your corner...
    Good luck, Kristin, on finding your way again...

  2. Thinking of you. Sending hugs and the strength to do what you need to do for you. I know the feeling. Like you depression is chronic for me. I spent the better part of yesterday doing nothing as I really needed it. Good luck to you.

  3. Gah just wrote something and then pressed the wrong button. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing and that we're here for you. Oh... And what an awesome Dad.



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