The D-Word: How to Talk Back to Your Depression

How I got out from under its deep, dark grip this time.

Sad woman is focusing on the negative.
Sad woman is focusing on the negative.

How deep and dark is depression? There’s a line from the Kate Bush song, Love and Anger, that sums up my last bout of depression perfectly: “…It’s so deep you don’t think that you can speak about it, to anyone….”

I’ve been quiet again on the writing front, for a little while, because I was recovering from a depression that was almost too deep to speak about. It was certainly too deep to write about. I needed to process my feelings about it. As for speaking, I have been through several rounds of depression before in my life, so I adhered to one always-true rule that I come back to when depressed: No matter what the depression tells you, you must speak about it. You must. You cannot let depression tell you to isolate yourself.

Depression lies; it distorts thinking, it warps our self-love, it exaggerates, and it tells half-truths. You cannot believe everything it tells you, and the most dangerous thing it will try to tell you is that you are alone, that you have no worth, and that nobody will care if you tell them about it. You absolutely must tell someone that you are depressed, and everything that involves. Are you feeling sad? Are you feeling nothing? Are you feeling like you might harm yourself? You must tell someone. You must.

The Abilify that I was taking seemed to have stopped working for me, and the depression that it was treating came back. It settled in and made itself very comfortable. It stuck around far longer than any polite guest should, and far longer than any depression I’ve ever experienced before. As it overstayed its welcome, I thought about possibilities that I’d never before considered: Maybe it would never leave. Maybe once it left, it would come back.

My prescriber dismissed these as depressive thoughts and, to a degree, she was right. But these particular thoughts were also logical considering my situation. I felt terrible, and I didn’t want to feel that way again. I was afraid that it could happen again. I knew that the possibility existed. I understand that it’s not useful to live in fear, but I still needed to feel and process those feelings in order to move past them.

In order to move past them, in order to keep them from festering and warping under the weight of the depression, in order to continue functioning, in order to claim some clarity, I had to speak them out loud-to my husband, to my parents. I did not shy away from telling my in-laws what was going on. My mother-in-law came over to help us with housekeeping. It is not easy to tell your closest loved ones the things that depression is doing to you, but my family understands that depression is an illness like any other. I am not my depression. They understand that it comes, and they understand that it goes. It was comforting to me to know that they understood this, and to be able speak to them honestly.

With the help of my prescriber, I was able to try new medications. We settled on Pristiq. It took several weeks to kick in, but it seems to be effective. I also discovered that I had a significant hormonal imbalance that may have been contributing to the depression, so I have been working to correct that.

I have come out of this experience grateful, more than anything. I am grateful to be alive every day. Grateful for time with my family. For time spent with our kids. For time to clean my house. For time spent on self-care that was too hard to engage in when I was feeling unwell. For a soft, safe bed to sleep in at night. For a peaceful neighborhood to live in. For my loving and supportive husband.