I am twenty-year-old woman who has a history of depression, although I know depression is incurable I have learnt to fight the demon within myself and bring it under some form of control. Right now I would be correct in saying that I have normal yet infrequent bursts of depression as any other normal person who has not suffered from acute depression. I am extremely optimistic and try surrounding myself with positive things and people, as I am afraid that if I let my guard down I will slip right back into the abyss. My life hasn't been the easiest of lives, but then whose has been; don't we all have issues we harbor deep down within?
I don't know if this is normal, I am currently in a state that can best be described as in limbo, I feel as if I don't fit anywhere, that no-one really understands me, I don't mind this, its just that I feel so alone and lack the energy to do my work or to socialize. I am neglecting my relationships and my work and I am demanding and impossible to those closest to me. I don't have anyone to talk to, I feel as if no one will understand, like I am a misfit. I am binging and seem to have no control over my behavior whatsoever. I am always tired and just always want to sleep. I just feel so lost and outside of everything, tired of acting and pretending like I fit in, tired of going through the motions of normality, I sometimes wonder if I am not going insane. I feel like my life is a charade and I am tired of being nice and smiling at everyone, I am not as nice as they all think, that I am just a crazy misfit who is not nice at all. Who is not fit to be a part of normal society? DO YOU THINK I AM CRAZY? WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING ON WITH ME? PLEASE HELP
When I read your letter, I wondered why you think depression is incurable? Depression can be successfully treated. There are many different forms of treatment that you can choose from. Trying to control depression by hiding your feelings under a smiley face, as you are probably learning, will only increase the depression and your sense of distance from other people. I have spoken to so many clients and friends who also believed that they had to hide their "true self" from others. They thought that they were not normal, a very painful belief which hindered them from seeking help for their depression.
You are not to blame for being unhappy or being irritable. Irritability, tiredness, feeling alone are all symptoms of depression. You are trying so very hard not to be depressed. If only one could just push depression away. Unfortunately that is not possible. Keeping you guard up all the time creates so much stress for you. Being on guard and controlling your feelings has not worked. Don't pretend that you are not unhappy and that you don't need help. You do not need to feel the way you do. It may take time to deal with what has gone on in your childhood, but you do not need to continue fighting your demons alone. If you have not done so, contact either your doctor or a local mental health association and explain how you feel.
Depression can best be dealt through therapy and/or therapy with medication. Usually it is recommended to include medication and therapy together. There are many types of medication and some of the newer ones have fewer side effects. If you are unable to see a therapist or get medication quickly, you could try doing some type of exercise, even long walks can be helpful for depression. Some types of teas can also be useful to relax. By writing your letter your have taken a step towards being helped, continue reaching out to people.
Many people suffer from depression. You are not alone with your problem. Speak to your doctor about finding a self-help group. In a self-help group you will make contacts with other people who are similar to yourself who can understand how you feel and what you are living through. You will also see that these people are depressed but not necessarily misfits. I think that you are indeed fit to be part of society. If life has not been easy for you, you may well have a good deal of anger in you and pretending to be happy and smiling and nice when you are indeed very upset can create many of the feelings that you are describing in your letter. That does not make you into a crazy misfit but rather a young unhappy girl that has not yet discovered who she is. Is there anyone that you can talk to freely without fearing that they will judge you?
Being depressed does not mean that you are not fit to be part of normal society. Your negative thoughts and attempts to be "normal" are only making you feel more depressed. While you are looking for a therapist there are various ways to cope with the depression. Exercise is very good. Do you enjoy any sports or exercise? Sometimes when you are too depressed even a short walk is too much, so do as much exercise as you are capable and don't judge yourself.
You seem so very hard on yourself, which is one of the reasons for your depression. Try building your self-esteem through the use of a journal. Each time you write any negative comment about yourself, stop and think for a minute where this thought originated and how it influences you. Change the wording so it will no longer be negative. (Example: shy rather then misfit)
Be kind to yourself. You deserve compassion and understanding. You are a young girl starting out in life. Your depression is stopping you from seeing your potentials and the possibilities surrounding you. There is help out there for you. I know that your life's path is not easy, so I advise you not to travel it alone.
Gloria Horowitz, MSW
This question was answered by Gloria Rivkah Horowitz M.S.W. She is a Clinical Social Worker with a private practice in Ottawa, Canada. She uses a combination of Cognitive-behavioral Therapy and relaxation techniques in her therapeutic approach. Issues that are dealt with vary from emotional problems stemming from childhood traumas to crises stemming from recent events (ex. divorce). Telephone and face-to-face counseling are provided.For more information visit: http://www.caringtelecounseling.com