Darkness Within

This post was originally written back in August of 2015. I’m not entirely certain why it wasn’t posted then, but here it is now:

So it’s been a while since my last post. I figured it wouldn’t hurt too much to write another. This will be another along the lines of TMI, but probably with less TMI in it. I’ll let you know when I finish.

For those who aren’t yet aware, I’ve finally gotten in to get some meds for my depression and anxiety. I take them regularly, and have only been late three times, though one of those times was, admittedly, by about 14-16 hours. They help a ton. Most of the time, I’m perfectly stable, which is so ridiculously awesome I can’t even begin to explain it to those who’ve never experienced the depths that depression can plunge a person to. I have no basis for comparison.

At any rate, and as with any medication, the pills I take aren’t perfect. There are times when the depression overwhelms them, and the distance between myself and the surface of the world skyrockets. The three millimeter pothole I was walking past becomes a three kilometer chasm I’ve somehow fallen into, and the sides are made of something frictionless and smooth. There’s no way out, no way back to the surface, to the happiness I quickly forget I ever actually felt, or was ever even capable of feeling to begin with. My medication – with its ability to restore perspective to the landscape of my mind, to help me see this chasm is really still a tiny pothole, but I’ve simply reduced myself to the point it seems bigger than me – just isn’t doing the job in those moments.

It’s hard to think in these chasms. Hard to recall the times when you weren’t trapped by your own perceptions. Hard to take any action at all. It’s too much effort, and it probably wouldn’t do any good anyway. Your perspective is so twisted, so fundamentally changed, that you don’t recognize the ways out even when you see them.

And the few times you do recognize escape routes, they seem insurmountable. Because depression isn’t sadness. It’s defeat. It’s the kind of defeat that reinforces itself, that actually causes the brain to reward negative thinking more than positive thinking in many cases, keeping you defeated perpetually. “Every situation is unique,” it reminds you, then twists that into “what works for others can’t possibly work for me”. And so forth.

So if the meds stop working, for whatever reason, and for however long, how do you get out of these chasms on your own? Well, in my case, I’ll have to get back to you once I manage it again. I can’t remember anything that was effective in the past, at the moment, because of the emotional state’s self-reinforcing nature. Maybe writing things down helped? Seems to have been the case when I wrote TMI a couple years back. I dunno, yet.

Honestly, this is where therapy usually comes in. Medication isn’t effective 100% of the time. It can’t be, without some way to carefully monitor the body and regulate the distribution of more or less of any given substance as the body requires it to operate normally. Generally, that’s the brain’s job, but it’s malfunctioning, so we have to do the best we can to take over.

Therapy, too, isn’t 100% effective. I don’t recall the exact numbers (perhaps they’ll manifest in the comments), but neither approach, alone, is always enough. Using both together brings the success rate considerably higher – still not 100%, but close. A lot of this comes from being able to identify and process the underlying emotional triggers of the stronger attacks. Of course, it also comes in the form of tools to escape, methods which may even have been practiced beforehand (say, during one or more sessions) to be a ready, automatic response to situations that need them. There are likely other benefits I’m not aware of.

That’s largely because I haven’t had any therapy, yet. A bit of self-help in the form of a book called Feeling Good, but nothing involving a live professional. So I have to find my own way out in the meantime. Which is fine. I’ll be fine. I’ve found ways out before. I just need to keep with it until I find another.

The bit I’m wondering about now, though… What’s causing these episodes where the pills aren’t enough?