Depression as Intellectual Curiosity, Challenge and Exercise in Problem Solving
I have a huge thirst for knowledge and there is little that does not interest me. On good days, like today, I can see my depression as an opportunity to use many of my talents.
For example there is my intellectual curiosity that wants to understand depression,what is happening to me and how I can deal with my condition. I want to know why some people seem more prone to it and whether anyone can become clinically depressed if specific triggers exist.
Building on that curiosity, and the research it causes me to undertake, is also the intellectual challenge of dealing with my condition. Recognising that ultimately the cure, or at least relief, of my depression lies in my own head then there are the mind games of getting to that point. Certainly external help from doctors and therapists can be useful for many; my personality is such that I want to solve the problem myself, especially as my doctor was not very helpful when I raised the possibility of my depression with him.
Relieving Depression - A Research Based Approach
For me then, dealing with my depression is an exercise in problem solving. One of my strengths, and probably weaknesses in this case, is self-reliance. I want to understand and solve the problem of my depression myself.
In reality I am not really working alone as I have caring family and friends who are helping quietly in many ways, small and large. Indeed just putting up with my darker moments and the resulting irritability and anger must be difficult. I also appreciate that they find it painful to see me suffering especially when there is little they can do except be supportive. As well as people close to me there are all those who have gone before; sufferers, therapist and clinical researchers who provide the knowledge and ideas that I use in my own research and therapy.
I am using previous sufferers' experience and research work. Usefully, there is a lot shared knowledge in the public domain but it has to be treated with care. It is case of finding the more common therapeutic themes and trying them. It would seem that all treatments of mood disorders have an experimental component; what works for one person may not work for another even with similar symptoms and personality. It seems all therapy whether self-directed or guided by clinicians will be a case of trying it and monitoring the outcomes.
Fortunately most therapies, especially those that can be self-directed, seem to be free from harmful side effects. At least that is my experience so far but I have not had treatment from clinical therapists or used medication, "natural" or pharmacological. If' a therapy seems helpful I continue to use it; if it does not seem to work for me I simply stop and look for another approach.
Using the Better Days to Make Progress
After an uncomfortable thirty-six hours I am back to a better place. It still takes significant effort and self-discipline effort to stay there, let alone to move forward. By using better days to understand what is happening and to deal with some of the neglected tasks that hang over me I can relieve some of the guilt, and worry, that drags my mood down. So today is a day to really work those therapeutic approaches that help knock off a couple of items on my to-do list. It is a day to make another small step back into the light. The aim is simple; reduce the down times, increase the up times so that I enjoy more of life than not.
As the day has started well I will particularly spend some extra time using meditation and relaxation to try and refresh my mind. Whilst useful over the last couple of difficult days such techniques were much harder work than usual and less effective. At the end of the day "curing" depression is largely about re-educating the subconscious mind for which I find meditation useful and very pleasant. I take small pleasures where I can.
The start of the day is very promising; it is not yet 10am and I have already ticked a few things off my list of jobs and I even feel positive. It could be a good day.