PDA

View Full Version : Writing with a side of depression



holy_shiitake
09-05-2014, 01:11 AM
So for years I've been saying, "I have depressive symptoms but not actual Depression." Turns out you can only have depressive symptoms for so long before you Actually Have Depression!

It's not that bad. It's not like I'm sitting in my bedroom all day with the curtains drawn while flies collect in the piles of unkempt garbage on the floor. I go to work, I eat, I shower, I basically function. I'm now trying to figure out in my head whether or not I should play Anti-Depressant Roulette or if I should just stick with some CBT therapy.

But the toll my depression takes on my writing is high. It's hard for me to even open up a word document some days. And sustaining any kind of progress on a novel is also really hard, which is why I posted in the Writing Buddies & Mentors forum asking for butt-kickers, because if I have people bugging me to do something, I'm far more likely to actually do it rather than just let it languish and procrastinate eternally. NaNoWriMo is basically the only time of year when I write continuously for a month, because there are so many other people doing it that *someone* is bound to message me once a day and go, "Why haven't you written yet!? What's going on in your story? What did you write about today?"

Does anyone else live with depression and also write? Care to fill me on some just-sit-down-and-do-it techniques that work for you? (Beyond, you know, just sitting down and doing it.)

Mr Flibble
09-05-2014, 01:26 AM
I'm bipolar and have long stretches of depression, so yeah, I know where you are coming from.

I actually write as much when depressed as when not (not as much as when manic though!) Mainly because I know I will become more depressed if I don't write (I'll feel more useless etc). Also because I know that the first sentence or two will be like wrenching teeth out with pliers BUT...but once I'm past that and into it, I feel a brief lifting of my symptoms -- I'm out of my own head and into my character's and that really helps. It's kind of like therapy :)

So, no matter how bad I feel, I remind myself of that, and I open that document and write. Some days not much, other days more. But I make myself do it, because I know in the end it will help me.

It may not work for you ofc, but hey, you aren't alone here. I'm sure others will have other methods and hopefully you'll find one that works for you.


Btw, the first book in my sig? Wrote the last half of that in a major depression -- the worst I've ever had. Suicidal ideation, thoughts of self harm, you name it. Doing that -- having an hour or two a day outside of my own head -- probably saved me from doing something dire. Not kidding.

ETA in light of what Wombat says -- I found CBT to be massively helpful. Anti-depressants work, when you find the right one for you. That can take a while. But thanks to the CBT I hardly ever have to take them

Karen Junker
09-05-2014, 02:06 AM
This is probably not helpful to you in terms of ideas so you can write while depressed, but -- I finally quit worrying about it. I have done the very structured thing where I commit to writing a certain number of words or a certain amount of time each day -- and I found it helped to make it the same time each day. But I realized that, for me, the pressure of trying to produce word count (along with all the self-talk about how I wouldn't be a success if I didn't finish my book so I could get published -- and say 'eff you' to all those people who laughed at my aspirations -- and so on) was just adding fuel to the depression machine.

So, now I write when I feel like it. I write a lot of stuff in emails to friends or posts on social media. And to me, that totally counts as writing -- because I'm a believer it the 'you gotta write a million words' theory. And I still think of myself as a writer, even if I'm taking a break for a while. Even if other people argue fiercely that I'm not a writer if I'm not writing at some rate that they consider valid. Because fuck that. What we have in our own heads is critical enough, we don't need to take on the standards of anyone else or compare ourselves to anyone else.

You are awesome, no matter how much you write. You are a creative person, an artist, and I respect you and honor you for that.

I am not saying you should not do whatever you find works for you to make you happy -- if that is having a pal to remind you to write, or to ask about how it's going or whatever -- that is totally up to you.

And if you have depression and simply show up for life every day -- you are an amazing, freaking success.

RedWombat
09-05-2014, 02:10 AM
I've only had one diagnosed* major depressive bout (knock on wood) and it was insanely hard to write during it. Antidepressants worked well for me--my productivity was about 80% of "normal" but a thousand percent better than when unmedicated.

What actually got me writing, in retrospect, when I was really grindingly depressed, before I got medicated...was fan-fic. I know it sounds weird, but I would write the fluffiest silliest serial fic and it didn't matter if it was absurd and I didn't have to beat myself up over whether it was deathless prose and people would read it and cheer and it was easy at a time when nothing else was.

Not high art for the ages, but I'm actually still proud of those. I was able to go and write my own stuff and then slide back into fic for a bit when I needed it. Anyway, it helped.

(Part of that element may have been the serial nature of it. I would write a thing and get the immediate feedback of people reading it and then I could use that to motivate me to write the next chapter. But that's a bit of a high-wire act, and motivation becomes obligation really quickly.)

*I have my suspicions about others, but hindsight is awesome.

Jamesaritchie
09-05-2014, 02:28 AM
I do NOT mean to make light of depression in any way, and do not say that my experience has anything to do with anyone else's experience, but I was diagnosed with severe depression back in my early twenties. It truly sucked, and put my life on hold.

So I stopped being depressed. How? Beats me. I just decided one day that being depressed sucked, and that I wasn't going to do it any longer. I never got depressed again. It felt infinitely better, and I got on with my life..

William Haskins
09-05-2014, 03:11 AM
it's a tough road.

just make sure you ask for help if you need it.

good luck.

JustSarah
09-05-2014, 03:43 AM
Depression, likely caused by GID.

Mr Flibble
09-05-2014, 03:45 AM
Depression, likely caused by GID.

??

Do you mean for yourself?

I mean, I assume so, but it's not exactly clear (whether you are talking about the OP or yourself or.....)

ETA: Ofc his could be me having one of my little moments

Lillith1991
09-05-2014, 04:09 AM
No tips, just want to say that if psychosis doesn't factor in you're luckier than some in some ways and less lucky in others. My depression includes psychosis, which isn't fun even though sometimes I can write while severly depressed or even borderline psychotic. I can't write past a certain point though, and I can literally feel my mind slipping. I can't write during a psychotic episode either. Mental illness sucks, but I take solace in knowing there are people who are worse off in that department than me. Not pleasure, but the feeling that at least I can function when others are unable to.

SianaBlackwood
09-05-2014, 05:16 AM
For people who are okay with a bit of naughty language, Chuck Wendig talked about self-doubt (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/26/theres-this-thing-that-happens-sometimes/) and depression (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/27/the-writer-and-depression/) on his blog last week.

Probably the closest thing to a tip I can offer is to write the things you really want to write. Original fiction, fanfiction, enormously complicated and elaborate worldbuilding, crossovers where your own characters from different stories meet each other and take over a karaoke bar, dark metaphorical journeys into the depths of your own subconscious - all fine. Write the things that make 'urge to write' a stronger force than 'urge to crawl under the blankets and forget the computer exists'.

holy_shiitake
09-05-2014, 06:11 AM
Thank you, guys. And I love what Chuck Wendig writes. I've just spent so long reading about other people's depression and going, "That's not me, that's for someone else," that when it turns out that, yes, it's actually about me, it hits really hard.

Dreity
09-05-2014, 06:34 AM
I recently had the same epiphany as you, shiitake. :) That said, the MEGO post I'm about to write is only what works for me. Everyone deals with depression differently, and no "one thing" is going to work for everything.

But the first thing I had to do was "own" what I was going through, and recognize that it had to affect how I approached things. I realized that my maximum energy level is much, much lower than what others have, it's a feature, not a bug, and I get more done when I work with that self-knowledge rather than try to deny it and fight it.

Then I keep it basic. I did the math, and if I write 129 words a day bare minimum, I will be able to give myself a finished second draft for Christmas. I have anywhere from 1-4 hours from the time I wake up to the time I go to work to get those words in, DH is already at work at this point, so it's my time of the day.

It really helps having a designated writing time that is also limited. I know that if I don't write before I go to work then I don't write at all that day, because when I get home I'll too tired and just want to relax with DH. Even so, the absolutely worst part of the day is when I have Scrivener open, but I'm dithering around online trying to psyche myself up to write during the appointed time. I hate it and have only figured out one method to get myself through it as quickly as possible. I'd say it works about 70% of the time, and it's just writing during my breaks at work.

I'm not trying to get good, edited words in at that time, I'm just throwing stuff at the wall and actively thinking about the story. The next day, I open my notebook, and if the words are worth keeping, I transcribe, which is a lot easier than purely writing at first. When I'm done transcribing I'm usually "into it" and am good from there. If the words suck, I figure out why, and what wouldn't suck, and that gets me tinkering, and before I know it it's been an hour. When it's time to go to work, I jot down the last sentence I wrote in my notebook (or I take a picture of my screen with my phone if I'm working with multiple half-complete paragraphs, as I often am), and then I can remind myself where I left off.

Now bear in mind, I'm PT and DH works FT, so that's a lot of stress off me. I don't know what your work situation is, but I can't imagine trying to write a novel on top of working 40+ hours a week, and I have nothing but respect -- okay, green seething envy for those who manage it.

Finally, I have a CBT workbook of sorts, but honestly the little questionnaires and guided self-examinations take so much energy that I haven't touched it since last winter. :tongue

Also, PM incoming. :D

shadowwalker
09-05-2014, 07:53 AM
I've had clinical depression for years, sometimes light misery, sometimes life-threatening. As to writing with it, I've found that setting up a routine helps. Frankly, setting up a routine helps with a lot of things that otherwise don't happen when an episode hits. With the routine, a set time to do a certain thing (like writing), I don't have to make the decision. It's just time to do it. And don't worry if it's not your novel or poem - it can be the biggest "woe-is-me" piece of crap. (Done that more than a few times.) But as long as you write something, there's a good chance that little piece of gold will pop up - and then, as mentioned above, you can lose yourself in the writing and, even if it's just for a little bit, your depression is pushed away.

Liosse de Velishaf
09-05-2014, 11:32 AM
The only thing that keeps me going through bouts of it is routine set up while I was not depressed. If I can build up enough momentum before falling into it again, and if the period is short enough, I can write with like 90% of normal output until I'm out of it again.

I've struggled a lot with finishing longer prose pieces because I'll get manic or pseudo-manic and start a bright shiny new idea, but since I do a lot of pre-work (I write SFF, mostly) before embarking on a novel project, I often get hit with another wave of it before I gain the requisite momentum. So, for the past few years, I've mostly had success with shorter stuff, like poetry, blog posts, book reviews, and the occasional short story.


So if you've been working on longer pieces, you might have more success trying shorter formats. Or not. We're all different people. But it could be worth a shot.


Setting a word count per day and sticking to it has also worked for me in the past, though not as much now that I am out of a structured environment that can help me maintain regular routines in writing and areas around it.

If there's some activity you really enjoy, such as watching a certain television show, or eating a certain food, or playing a game, or whatever, you could also try setting that up as a reward for meeting your writing quota. I've used video games, certain desserts, and tv to motivate myself to hit a goal. Not only do you get to have the reward, but the satisfaction from hitting your goal, and the build-up from doing it several times consecutively can really help some people's moods.


However, depression being what it is, these sort of things can backfire, and failing to meet a goal, or being unwilling to forgive yourself for failing to meet a goal can have a net negative effect. So it's important, or it was to me, to accept that a given method might not work for me, and it wasn't something I had to beat myself up over, it was just checking one possibility off the list and moving on to another.

Buffysquirrel
09-05-2014, 02:08 PM
Try CBT. Try *anything* that might work. Exercise. Nature. Pills.

I wish I had some help to offer re: getting it done. For both of us.

Alitriona
09-05-2014, 02:14 PM
I find what works for me is sitting at my desk and forcing the words out, even if it's only a handful. It's so much harder to get back into writing if I've stop completely on the days I can do little more than get from waking up in the morning to going to sleep at night.

Because of my special needs son staying in bed all day and sleeping isn't an option. There are days I want nothing more. But I force my self up and I force the words. Sometimes in a word document and sometimes in my notebook. If I throw them out later, as least I know what direction I don't want to go and it's never a waste.

holy_shiitake
09-05-2014, 03:33 PM
Even so, the absolutely worst part of the day is when I have Scrivener open, but I'm dithering around online trying to psyche myself up to write during the appointed time.

Dreity, that is totally absolutely correct. It's The Worst. Also interested in that CBT notebook - can you buy them, or did you have to get yours from a therapist? Oh! And I work roughly 40 hours a week at a restaurant, so it's a night job, and I have my days free, which is great for self-care.

Everyone else, your words are incredibly helpful and kind. Thank you so much again for your wonderful responses and empathy.

Buffysquirrel
09-05-2014, 05:49 PM
For me the worst part of the day is trying to make myself get out of bed. Preferably in the morning.

Wilde_at_heart
09-05-2014, 06:00 PM
The *one* thing that still gets me seems to be solar activity of all things. I'd been wondering why I'd been in a funk the past week until I looked up spaceweather.com, NASA soho, etc. This isn't something I recently discovered, rather it's something I've followed off and on for a few years now. It sounds weird, but someone who studied it did find a correlation: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13769-does-the-earths-magnetic-field-cause-suicides.html#.VAnPwPldXEo

Dreity
09-05-2014, 07:56 PM
Dreity, that is totally absolutely correct. It's The Worst. Also interested in that CBT notebook - can you buy them, or did you have to get yours from a therapist?

So, the book is called Overcoming Worry: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques by Dr. Kevin Meares and Prof. Mark Freeston. Of all place, I bought it at the dollar store I work at. :tongue It's really more geared toward chronic overthinkers and people with anxiety, but for me it went hand in hand with my depression. The book was published in 2008, so it's probably out of date already, but I was desperate and couldn't beat the price. You can buy it dirt cheap online, though I see there's a book in the "series" that's specifically for depression, so perhaps you'd be better served with that.

holy_shiitake
09-05-2014, 08:01 PM
Showers are also really hard for me to take when I'm feeling down - I love showers! I think they're the best things, they're relaxing, they make you smell good, they can be really fun if you're with the right person while you're in one... and yet, getting myself IN the shower is really hard sometimes. But going out with dirty hair is worse, so it almost always gets done in the end.

KTC
09-05-2014, 08:12 PM
You can have dysthymia for a long time without it upgrading to full blown depression.

I've lived a life with depression. I feel fortunate for that. I can't explain where my gratitude comes from, I just know that I am richer for having been in the bowels.

KTC
09-05-2014, 08:14 PM
What works for me is a rigid schedule that I do not deviate from. Which means, figuratively speaking, I could have the gun in my mouth and still insist on crawling out of bed at 4:30am, making my way to my laptop and typing out words. Come what may. Life waits for no one...and life is something that doesn't need to wait. There are enough people around for life to have fun with. Life doesn't need me. I have to make the effort...

Siri Kirpal
09-05-2014, 10:35 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I used to be depressed. Got myself out through yoga and meditation. Helped that I've been deep breathing for a long time: Inhale slowly and deeply and let the belly expand; exhale slowly and deeply and bring it back it.

The Bach remedies Mustard (for inexplicable depression) and Gentian (for the disappointment version of depression) helped also. They're available in Health Food/Natural Food stores. I know other people they've helped as well.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Shadow_Ferret
09-05-2014, 10:49 PM
So were you diagnosed as having depression? By a real licensed professional?

I'm wondering because real depression goes way beyond feeling sad ir down, its an actual mental disorder, one that I doubt very much people can overcome with yoga or just thinking happy thoughts.

Jamesaritchie
09-05-2014, 11:45 PM
So were you diagnosed as having depression? By a real licensed professional?

I'm wondering because real depression goes way beyond feeling sad ir down, its an actual mental disorder, one that I doubt very much people can overcome with yoga or just thinking happy thoughts.

Real depression comes in many shapes and forms, and who said anything about happy thoughts? I most certainly was diagnosed by a real, actual, honest to God professional who dealt with depression on a daily basis.

Now, it may be that REAL depression, as opposed to fake depression, I guess, is a mental disorder, but people got over REAL depression for hundreds of years before medications were available. Each did so in his or her own way, but it happened. It still happens.

And, you know, almost everyone I've met who was diagnosed with REAL depression had incredibly good reasons to be depressed. Is this a coincidence? Most of these people were diagniosed with clinical depression, handed a fistful of medications, pulled into week session with a qualified profession, and most responded to treatment. Trouble is, they still had all sorts of things they should have been depressed about, were still living lives that would depress a saint. For me, that was not a treatment I wanted.

For me, just for me, i decided I was in charge of how I felt, and whether I has happy or depressed. I was in charge, and I was in control of what I felt.

Okay, I admit to thinking one happy thought, and it helped a great deal because I believed it completely. Happiness is not getting what you want, it's wanting what you get.

This may be a tired old cliche to some, but, for me, it's the path to true happiness. I go after what I want with everything I have, but if I don't get it, I have lost nothing at all.

Back then, a hangnail would put me in a tailspin that could last for weeks. Now two heart attacks, being in a coma twice, losing an eye, and being hand a prognosis that does not deal favorably with longevity just goes down as a life lived, and my happiness level hasn't dropped a hair. It's a life being lived. Everything is a life being lived, and LIFE is good.

It's most certainly infinitely better than what all those who die very young managed.

For me, just for me, there is nothing abnormal about my brain. Each part functions. So does my mind, and my mind controls how I feel about everything and everyone. It controls whether I'm happy, whether I'm depressed, whether I'm frightened, and even whether I'm in love.

There are bazillions of things out there that I can't control, but there's nothing I can't control inside my own head.

Mr Flibble
09-06-2014, 12:22 AM
Most of these people were diagniosed with clinical depression, handed a fistful of medications, pulled into week session with a qualified profession, and most responded to treatment. Trouble is, they still had all sorts of things they should have been depressed about, were still living lives that would depress a saint.

Before you diagnose yourself with depression, first make sure you are not surrounded by assholes - William Gibson


Many people have reasons to be depressed, and do not change the reasons while in treatment. This just means more treatment to hep cope with the crap they have in their life (which may or may not be avoidable)

However, some people get depressed even when they should be euphoric

When I am bad, a change is very often as good as a rest -- it takes you out of yourself, the usual reasons (if you have RL reasons) go away...

But that's not always practical. I would recommend taking a good hard look at life though, and jettisoning things/people who are not helping/suck the everloving life out of you.



LIFE is good
As I get older, and the creaks set in, I find it helpful to think, well, it's better than the alternative...

Liosse de Velishaf
09-06-2014, 12:22 AM
So were you diagnosed as having depression? By a real licensed professional?

I'm wondering because real depression goes way beyond feeling sad ir down, its an actual mental disorder, one that I doubt very much people can overcome with yoga or just thinking happy thoughts.


Real depression comes in many shapes and forms, and who said anything about happy thoughts? I most certainly was diagnosed by a real, actual, honest to God professional who dealt with depression on a daily basis.

Now, it may be that REAL depression, as opposed to fake depression, I guess, is a mental disorder, but people got over REAL depression for hundreds of years before medications were available. Each did so in his or her own way, but it happened. It still happens.

And, you know, almost everyone I've met who was diagnosed with REAL depression had incredibly good reasons to be depressed. Is this a coincidence? Most of these people were diagniosed with clinical depression, handed a fistful of medications, pulled into week session with a qualified profession, and most responded to treatment. Trouble is, they still had all sorts of things they should have been depressed about, were still living lives that would depress a saint. For me, that was not a treatment I wanted.

For me, just for me, i decided I was in charge of how I felt, and whether I has happy or depressed. I was in charge, and I was in control of what I felt.

Okay, I admit to thinking one happy thought, and it helped a great deal because I believed it completely. Happiness is not getting what you want, it's wanting what you get.

This may be a tired old cliche to some, but, for me, it's the path to true happiness. I go after what I want with everything I have, but if I don't get it, I have lost nothing at all.

Back then, a hangnail would put me in a tailspin that could last for weeks. Now two heart attacks, being in a coma twice, losing an eye, and being hand a prognosis that does not deal favorably with longevity just goes down as a life lived, and my happiness level hasn't dropped a hair. It's a life being lived. Everything is a life being lived, and LIFE is good.

It's most certainly infinitely better than what all those who die very young managed.

For me, just for me, there is nothing abnormal about my brain. Each part functions. So does my mind, and my mind controls how I feel about everything and everyone. It controls whether I'm happy, whether I'm depressed, whether I'm frightened, and even whether I'm in love.

There are bazillions of things out there that I can't control, but there's nothing I can't control inside my own head.


While there are various levels of similarity, everyone's depression is different. Yoga might work for some people and it might not for others, but I think RYFW suggests that we not start accusing people of not having a "real" mental disorder.


Some people are able to make a large mental effort to overcome the effects of their condition. Certainly many people with depression have experienced short-term results from making a conscious decision to move past their depression on the level of a single day. As long as no one is playing the "just get over it" card directly aimed at other people, we're probably okay.

James was very clear that they were only talking about their personal experience and not projecting it onto the other members of the thread, and I think the same could be said of Siri.

Liosse de Velishaf
09-06-2014, 12:29 AM
Before you diagnose yourself with depression, first make sure you are not surrounded by assholes - William Gibson


Many people have reasons to be depressed, and do not change the reasons while in treatment. This just means more treatment to hep cope with the crap they have in their life (which may or may not be avoidable)

However, some people get depressed even when they should be euphoric

When I am bad, a change is very often as good as a rest -- it takes you out of yourself, the usual reasons (if you have RL reasons) go away...

But that's not always practical. I would recommend taking a good hard look at life though, and jettisoning things/people who are not helping/suck the everloving life out of you.



As I get older, and the creaks set in, I find it helpful to think, well, it's better than the alternative...



One of the most insidious parts of depression is that it can ingrain negative feedback loops into your thinking that even redressing the chemical imbalances cannot entirely fix, which is why CBT and similar methods can be so effective.

But even with a combination of those there are still forms of depressing or extenuating (intenuating?) circumstances that can mean a person's mind resists all treatment to various extents.

Mr Flibble
09-06-2014, 12:31 AM
But even with a combination of those there are still forms of depressing or extenuating (intenuating?) circumstances that can mean a person's mind resists all treatment to various extents.


Oh yes, absolutely -- I didn't mean to infer otherwise.

Liosse de Velishaf
09-06-2014, 12:35 AM
Oh yes, absolutely -- I didn't mean to infer otherwise.


I know you didn't. I didn't mean to imply you were inferring such a thing.


But with stuff like depression, it's important to keep perspective on the fact that you can do all the right things and still not meet your goals, and it isn't the fault of the person, and they shouldn't add that to the list of things that feeds their condition.




ETA: I had no idea so many people I respected on AW were dealing with depression and similar conditions, and this thread has been incredibly positive so far, and I want it to stay that way. That's the main focus of most of my posts here and I don't want anyone to feel like I am criticizing them personally.

Mr Flibble
09-06-2014, 12:43 AM
I know you didn't. I didn't mean to imply you were inferring such a thing.

Between you implying and me inferring...:D


This is, in fact, part of my problem -- I am hovering on the cusp of One Of My Moments. And when that happens sometimes I say/type stuff I don;t mean. or don't realise the significance of.

Ofc without the CBT (much of which is not thinking happy thoughts but avoiding the sinkhole cycle of bad ones) I've had I would not know I am on the cuso and would have just sailed on ahead blithely...


I'd rather second guess myself than say something I shouldn't and not worry about it, you know? And this is how I know I haven't fallen over the cusp.


ETA: I had no idea so many people I respected on AW were dealing with depression and similar conditions, and this thread has been incredibly positive so far, and I want it to stay that way. That's the main focus of most of my posts here and I don't want anyone to feel like I am criticizing them personally.

I knew there were a fair few of us. When I was diagnosed with bipolar (quite late in life -- made sense of some really weird shit that I've gone through) it was the friends I made here that helped me more than anything.

Buffysquirrel
09-06-2014, 12:44 AM
I'm wondering because real depression goes way beyond feeling sad ir down, its an actual mental disorder, one that I doubt very much people can overcome with yoga or just thinking happy thoughts.

Not just thinking happy thoughts, no. But stopping thinking negative, self-destructive thoughts, yes. In fact that's a major part of CBT.

Karen Junker
09-06-2014, 12:45 AM
I have a friend who has treatment-resistant depression. He's tried everything (under doc's supervision). A few years ago, I was the person designated to pick him up from electroshock treatments (they still do this and it's working for some people) and it affected his memory so much, he didn't recognize me and still doesn't, or remember that he ever knew me.

I think it is awesome when people find ways to cope, short or long term. I wish I were one of them.

Oprah used to always say, "All pain is the same." I disagree. Some people, for whatever reasons, experience their pain more deeply and for longer than other people, even if their experiences in life have been similar.

I find it so comforting that so many of my friends in here are willing to share their most vulnerable selves. Even if I don't thank you personally, you are appreciated so much!

Buffysquirrel
09-06-2014, 12:47 AM
They're now trying ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. With luck it won't have the same side-effects as both my parents suffered with ECT.

Jack Asher
09-06-2014, 12:59 AM
I'm now trying to figure out in my head whether or not I should play Anti-Depressant Roulette or if I should just stick with some CBT therapy.
If you've actually been diagnosed you should talk it over with your doctor, before you make any decisions. But the two aren't mutually exclusive. There's no reason you can't get on the right meds and still do therapy.

I realize that for most people medication is a big scary word, and most people have horror stories about themselves or someone they know. The truth is that you aren't going to find the right med on the first try, and that it will probably take several weeks before you find out what you like and don't like about it.

But sticking with it and finding something that can help is an incredibly rewarding mission, and will have a huge effect not just on when and how you write but the quality and the direction as well.

Mr Flibble
09-06-2014, 02:18 AM
If you've actually been diagnosed you should talk it over with your doctor, before you make any decisions. But the two aren't mutually exclusive. There's no reason you can't get on the right meds and still do therapy.

What he said

Definitely talk with your doc first. Meds take time to get right (and the wrong ones can..be a trial. The right ones however can transform your life) but everyone is different so everyone's treatment that works best for them is different, Chat with your doc, see what they say.

Personally I'd suggest going with the milder/non med/therapy stuff first (because why medicate when you don't need to?) but obviously this is a) only my opinion and I am not a doctor and do not know your symptoms/their severity. and b) It worked for me so I am biased. I am not you so....

Your doctor is who you need to talk to here, so that you can together make a game plan

Ken
09-06-2014, 02:22 AM
The important thing is to get better. Writing is secondary. So take the necessary measures. And when you're up to it then you can return to it.

Shadow_Ferret
09-06-2014, 02:49 AM
For me, just for me, there is nothing abnormal about my brain. Each part functions. So does my mind, and my mind controls how I feel about everything and everyone. It controls whether I'm happy, whether I'm depressed, whether I'm frightened, and even whether I'm in love.

Real was an unfortunate choice of words. By real I meant abnormal brain function. Something wrong with the wiring, the synapses. A neurological disorder. Something you can't control. Something that will only respond to medication.

I have ADHD. I can't just think it away. Changing diets did nothing. I had been in this unfocused fog for over 50 years and nothing worked until I finally went on medication, then it was like a veil had been lifted.

shadowwalker
09-06-2014, 05:07 AM
I think it's important to remember that not everyone with depression will live with it, at some level, forever. Some folks - the very lucky ones - will have one bout and it goes away. Now, that bout may last a few years, but that will be the last time it strikes. (This is not to be confused with situational depression, either.) I just want it mentioned so people remember that even clinical depression has many faces.

As far as people 'getting over it on their own for decades', I wonder if they really got over it, if they just learned to hide it (depressives are incredible actors - just ask the families and friends of those who "suddenly" commit suicide), or if there was a sudden and tragic "accident" (since for those same decades suicide was a shameful act and reflected badly on the families).

Jack Asher
09-06-2014, 06:40 AM
Now, it may be that REAL depression, as opposed to fake depression, I guess, is a mental disorder, but people got over REAL depression for hundreds of years before medications were available. Each did so in his or her own way, but it happened. It still happens.

And, you know, almost everyone I've met who was diagnosed with REAL depression had incredibly good reasons to be depressed. Is this a coincidence? Most of these people were diagniosed with clinical depression, handed a fistful of medications, pulled into week session with a qualified profession, and most responded to treatment. Trouble is, they still had all sorts of things they should have been depressed about, were still living lives that would depress a saint. For me, that was not a treatment I wanted.
.
Ah, this is a common misconception. You are equating clinical depression with "feeling a little sad sometimes".

In the case of "real" depression a persons neuroreceptors don't process information at the same rate, or in the same way as a "normal" person. It has nothing to do with their circumstances or their living situation.

And while people dealt with depression for thousands of years, they also did their dentistry with sharpened rocks, without painkillers. I expect a better standard of living from an age when I can press a button and talk to anyone in the world. Though as you might expect, when you are in a situation that would depress a saint, it helps if your brain functions well enough to keep you getting out of bed in the morning.

holy_shiitake
09-06-2014, 09:56 AM
Some more clarifying things: I'm not currently in therapy or seeing a medical professional. I've been diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed professional, but not depression (or anything on the depressive spectrum beyond, "wow, some real shit has happened in this lady's life"). Due to current financial constraints, seeing such a person would probably be really awful for my bank account (those pesky student loan repayments eat up so much of my monthly income!). And until I meet my quite high deductible, my health insurance won't pay for anything. So unfortunately I'm just going to have to slog through until I get promoted and acquire a raise. (Geez, what great motivation to acquire a raise!)

Has anyone had any experience with self-directed CBT? I've been recommended MoodGym, which is a CBT-based website similar to a workbook, and I'm going to take full advantage of that, but I'd also appreciate any other suggestions anyone has to give! (Beyond the obvious things that I'm already trying to do, like eat right and get enough sleep and get enough exercise.)

Quickbread
09-06-2014, 10:06 AM
So were you diagnosed as having depression? By a real licensed professional?

I'm wondering because real depression goes way beyond feeling sad ir down, its an actual mental disorder, one that I doubt very much people can overcome with yoga or just thinking happy thoughts.

Yes, actually, yoga and meditation do have that power. They helped me out of depression, too, when I was also working with mental health professionals. Yoga and meditation are not at all about thinking happy thoughts. They are powerful practices that reprogram your brain patterns and undo negative patterns stuck in the body and mind. You have to be committed and go deep with a practice (preferably with guidance), but it's for sure possible.

ShaunHorton
09-06-2014, 10:31 AM
I've been wrestling with depression for the last couple years. I tried medication and counseling, but neither of those did much for me. (The counselor I was talking to literally interrupted me at the last session and just told me to stop being so negative.) It's still something I struggle with every day, and only those closest to me really have any idea how bad it's been sometimes. Sadly, that doesn't include any of my family, but that's just one more drop in the lake.

My writing is something that helps, and my word processor is always open, but like a few others have said, getting started on anything on any given day is near impossible. Another thing that helps is volunteering with a local animal rescue group, it gives me something to do so I'm not dwelling on the problems, and it's hard not to smile when you've got kittens crawling all over you.

Buffysquirrel
09-07-2014, 03:11 AM
Kittens are a balm to the soul.

Liosse de Velishaf
09-07-2014, 05:25 PM
Kittens are a balm to the soul.

Seconded.

buz
09-07-2014, 11:32 PM
A lot seems to be being said about what is or is not depression or sadness and whether there is a reason for it or not and diagnosing or undiagnosing people and how it can or cannot be treated...

The things is that a) depression comes in MANY forms and b) can respond or not respond to a whole lot of things, including anti-depressant drugs and therapy, but also light, weather, meditation, exercise, religion, lack of religion, change in environment, dogs, withholding sleep, drugs that aren't meant for depression, etc, and most importantly c) there's a whole lot that even the most sciencey of scientists and psychological of psychologists do not know about depression, and therefore many things outside of an individual's experience with what depression is are possible.

ssbittner
09-08-2014, 12:08 AM
Kittens are a balm to the soul.

Thirded on the kittens.

When I get really depressed, I can't motivate myself enough to go to yoga or similar things. Just having to attend a practice can itself be additional stress. And often when I am depressed I am more apathetic than sad, so sunrises and pretty things don't help much.

akaria
09-08-2014, 12:14 AM
So for years I've been saying, "I have depressive symptoms but not actual Depression." Turns out you can only have depressive symptoms for so long before you Actually Have Depression!

This was me for a looooong time. After a couple of years of talk therapy I still wasn't better and it was hard to admit I needed more help. Fast forward and a year on meds has made a huge difference.

I have a very loose routine. Write for at least an hour twice a week. And try not to beat myself up if the goal isn't met. That's the part where the meds help the most. They stop the merry go round of negativity that prevents anything but the bare basics from getting done. It's still a battle, but I feel hopeful.

Good luck with your search for a writing buddy!

holy_shiitake
09-08-2014, 08:17 AM
Kittens are a balm to the soul.

I have an ancient crotchety boy cat and he resembles that remark. :)

Roxxsmom
09-08-2014, 08:46 AM
The *one* thing that still gets me seems to be solar activity of all things. I'd been wondering why I'd been in a funk the past week until I looked up spaceweather.com, NASA soho, etc. This isn't something I recently discovered, rather it's something I've followed off and on for a few years now. It sounds weird, but someone who studied it did find a correlation: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13769-does-the-earths-magnetic-field-cause-suicides.html#.VAnPwPldXEo

I have a friend who insists that CME (coronal mass ejections) from the sun influence her mood and put her in a really strange state. I'll admit to pursing my lips skeptically about it, since anecdote often fails to be borne out on a larger scale, but there are things in the world we still don't understand. The brain is still mysterious in many ways.

Depression is a real shitty thing. I've had episodes too, and it kills my motivation to do anything I don't absolutely have to. Like you, I'm lucky that it's never pushed me down as far as it does some people. I get the kind where I sleep and eat more and just don't have a lot of fun doing things that should be fun. And I doubt and second guess myself, think everything I do is garbage, and think everyone must hate me because I'm such an awful person :(

I've always managed to function. But it took a toll on my grades and my friendships back in college, and nearly made me lose my focus in grad school (meds and therapy helped there). I haven't had a serious episode in recent years, but I know I'd have trouble keeping up with my writing if one comes.

I hope my tanks have enough in them to deal with the deluge of rejections I'm likely to be getting soon. This thick skin thing is something I've never been good at.

Buffysquirrel
09-08-2014, 01:16 PM
I have an ancient crotchety boy cat and he resembles that remark. :)

After weeks of Play with me! Play with me! our kitten finally got round our not so ancient but definitely set in his ways cat.

Shadow_Ferret
09-08-2014, 06:29 PM
Kittens are a balm to the soul.
Unfortunately, they grow up to become cats. :D

Buffysquirrel
09-08-2014, 07:35 PM
Unfortunately, they grow up to become cats. :D

Yes. Then you have to wait several years before you can get another kitten!

holy_shiitake
09-08-2014, 11:09 PM
Given that my cat was an absolute butthead to my two older girl cats when he was a kitten, I shudder to think what he would do with one himself - then again, I've heard that older boy cats are really good with kittens!

Roxxsmom
09-08-2014, 11:19 PM
Unfortunately, they grow up to become cats. :D

We always adopt cats. Kittens are cute, but they're always getting themselves in trouble.

Plus, I'm not entirely convinced Flick (one of the dogs) wouldn't think a kitten is a squirrel.

Seriously, I think my cats are cute too. I decided a while ago that the reason Amazon is so incredibly popular is that it is now the source of cat sleeping boxes the world over.

akaria
09-09-2014, 12:22 AM
Unfortunately, they grow up to become cats. :D
But sometimes they don't know that. My 10 year old kitty still bounces off the walls like she's a kitten.

Liosse de Velishaf
09-09-2014, 12:29 AM
I've had kittens and grown-up cats. I like them both, for different reasons. It depends on lot on where your are in your life. Kittens tend to be more active and playful, while if you don't feel like always being on-watch, an older more relaxed can can be nice.

Quickbread
09-09-2014, 01:06 AM
Plus, the older cats can train the little ones and keep them in line. Or enlist them to cause more trouble, depending on the cat.

Layla Nahar
09-09-2014, 01:12 AM
... setting up a routine helps with a lot of things that otherwise don't happen when an episode hits. With the routine, a set time to do a certain thing (like writing), I don't have to make the decision. It's just time to do it.

+1


there's nothing I can't control inside my own head.

There's the rub. I remember making a decision in my early 20s that I was done with all the problems, that I'd had enough and that starting today I was going to stop being unhappy. It worked for a *while* but it came back. What I see now is that my mind itself was really good at undermining me. Under *all* of it is self-hate, IMO & IME. If it's something you learn as part of your upbringing - your parents suffer from it and they reinforce it in you in subtle and not so subtle ways. And if you hate yourself, it's hard to trust your instincts and to believe that you can - or even deserve - to overcome these kind of problems.

I believe that somewhere deep down, the answer is in our own minds and that our minds have the power to lead us out of it. HOWEVER, it means swimming against the current, so to speak. Some currents are very strong. On the plus side, if that is the case, and the swimmer breaks free, it will be a very strong swimmer :)


(want to add that - yes, I believe that acceptance is more a key to the solution than 'breaking free' or 'overcoming' but - imagine what kind of a trap it can be to have to accept something you detest.)

raintree
09-10-2014, 02:42 AM
I've been told I have "dysthymia" or "low-grade depression." A small dose of Lexapro helps. You have my sympathy.

Roxxsmom
09-10-2014, 03:43 AM
Real depression comes in many shapes and forms, and who said anything about happy thoughts? I most certainly was diagnosed by a real, actual, honest to God professional who dealt with depression on a daily basis.

Now, it may be that REAL depression, as opposed to fake depression, I guess, is a mental disorder, but people got over REAL depression for hundreds of years before medications were available. Each did so in his or her own way, but it happened. It still happens.



And a lot of people didn't get over it too. Some died because of it (suicide is a very real risk with chronically depressed people), or led miserable lives (or lives that were intermittently miserable as depressive episodes came and went). I personally am glad to be living in a time when medication and therapy are part of the tools that are available for dealing with it.


There are bazillions of things out there that I can't control, but there's nothing I can't control inside my own head.

That's wonderful for you. But not everyone has this gift. Some people need a a little extra help at some points in their lives, maybe even for their entire lives.

Think how it might sound to someone who has, say, a disease that makes it difficult for them to walk without without some medication or device if someone tells then, "There's nothing I can't control inside my own musculoskeletal system."

LJD
09-13-2014, 07:47 PM
I know I'm a few days late (was out of the country for a couple weeks)...

I am depressed. In fact, I don't know what it's like not to be depressed, because I've been depressed my entire adult life. It's just the way it is. (I will not bore you with all my attempts to treat it, because it would take hours to type it all out...Suffice to say, my depression is treatment-resistant.) Maybe I will get better one day, but I don't think I can count on it.

Writing is a sort of escape for me. The stuff I write is the complete opposite of how I feel. Still, it can be hard to motivate myself to do it. But I love making lists and crossing shit off when I accomplish it, so that it helps too. And having some kind of schedule.

But yeah, it is an escape...

c.m.n.
09-14-2014, 06:52 AM
I go through bouts of depression myself. Have been diagnosed with anxiety and "mild" depression, but I wonder sometimes since this most recent bout during last winter was very bad. I'm prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder, and now that it's getting cold again, I'm getting a little worried.

Writing during my last episode was nil. Couldn't do it at all. Surprised I could focus on anything.

I've done CBT therapy before for my anxiety, but it really didn't stick. Then, I learned mindfulness and DBT this spring. Really opened my eyes to something new, something that helps my anxiety and calm my ruminations. It's not a 100% cure, nothing is, but it helps for me. I'm trying my hardest not to rely on medications.

If anything, mindfulness helps ground me when I'm getting too worried and obsessive about the things I can't control. It helps me focus again on what's in the present moment, what is here in front of me that I can be grateful for. Then, I use DBT skills, which are quite basic really, when things are really tough or I need a little more direction.

DBT skills include things like getting involved in activities (writing) you enjoy, self-soothing when you really need it, learning how to recognize your primary emotions/secondary emotions, and how to effectively speak to people (this is a must for me as I've always been shy).

After about five months, I was finally able to write again. I also set up a schedule for myself that includes writing/editing activities and I've stuck to my goals pretty good.

Amy_D
09-14-2014, 04:58 PM
Does anyone else live with depression and also write? Care to fill me on some just-sit-down-and-do-it techniques that work for you? (Beyond, you know, just sitting down and doing it.)

I struggle with depression, anxiety and BPD traits. All of these disorders have driven me to write as a way to cope with internal issues. I do my best writing when I'm in emotional turmoil. For some reason when I'm happy the last thing I want to do is to sit in front of a computer.

When I'm feeling depressed I decide to sit down and write about what I'm feeling. However, that's when the magic takes over and instead of writing about my thoughts I switch back into my characters and "PUFF" my book gets new chapters. You may want to give that a try.

Buffysquirrel
09-15-2014, 03:30 PM
Plus, the older cats can train the little ones and keep them in line. Or enlist them to cause more trouble, depending on the cat.

Heh, sometimes I say to Tristan, Why aren't you out looking after the kitten? If they're together, I know things are ok.

holy_shiitake
09-15-2014, 08:56 PM
This morning was a baaaad brain time. Sometimes my brain chemistry gets so out of whack that I can literally feel my brain ache. Luckily, I had a driving lesson at 11, so I forced myself to get up, make breakfast, take a shower and get ready, all while wanting to do nothing more than curl up and cry, except that would have taken too much energy. I went out with the driving instructor, let my brain focus on something other than feeling like crap for an hour, and now I'm way better - enough so that I want to go down to my local coffee shop and poke around my new MC for a while this afternoon. It's a small victory, but it's a victory. Yay!

Atalanta
09-15-2014, 10:39 PM
Has anyone had any experience with self-directed CBT?

Try the book Feeling Good by David D. Burns, M.D. It was originally published in the early 80's, but it's been reissued several times and is still relevant today. He dispels a lot of myths that are still floating around thirty years later, and his approach is very down-to-earth and compassionate.

I won't go into my own story, but I just wanted to say that you're not alone.

Liosse de Velishaf
09-20-2014, 10:34 AM
Seemed somewhat relevant: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/08/27/the-writer-and-depression/

Buffysquirrel
09-20-2014, 03:58 PM
It's a small victory, but it's a victory. Yay!

*does happy dance with you*

Jo Zebedee
09-20-2014, 07:06 PM
I have hellish anxiety. In my first bad bout I used self-directed CBT, applied some of it badly and it hit back during my last bout last autumn. Since then I've had a course of cbt and feel it's been helpful. :)