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Life after depression

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  • #68104
    den385
    Participant

    Hello everybody!

    Background:

    I’ve been through endogenous depression for 10 year (I call it my inner Odyssey for that) and than I got a whole year of apathy – because nerves were hurt after dealing with traumas.

    And now finally it’s over. And I don’t know how I feel.

    I always thought I will be happy immediately after dp is over. But I am not.

    I feel a lot of space in my heart and in my mind after dark thoughts and emotions left. But positive stuff isn’t just streaming down to feel this space like I’ve imagined.

    I feel empty. At first I even felt paralized – facing the world as a healthy person again. Much more responsibility, much more opportunities. So little confidence and experience.

    Now I’ve made a plan, a technique to keep me moving. I’ve set some good goals. And I manage to move. But it’s like 2 steps forward – 1 step back. And I’m often afraid that I’ll never get to the speed of life again. That I’ll never become energetic, successful, never feel the drive which I dreamed of through my whole Odyssey with dp.

    Question: Is adaptation to life always so slow after depression? Does anybody have experience? Is there a way to speed up reconnection with life? Any advice?

    For those still in dp: hold on, it’s not for nothing. I know, I’ve been there. It’s not immediately all-happy after, but it’s much better. And getting better step by step. May the Force be with you )

    Thanx

    • This topic was modified 7 years, 2 months ago by den385.
    • This topic was modified 7 years, 2 months ago by den385.
    #68123
    Julianne Kurdila
    Participant

    Your mind and your body are used to certain responses — specifically, those that occurred during your long period of depression. Even though the depression has lifted, other emotions and beliefs that you felt and thought during that decade will linger. Also, I have read that when depression is gone some people feel empty because the depression became a part of them and now it is gone.

    You are doing the right thing by making a plan and exploring connections. Don’t forget to plan little (healthy) things that give you pleasure. Not happiness, but pleasure — like reading a good book, having a cup of coffee in front of a roaring fire, taking a hot bath. And try to imagine your soul as being open when you are out in public. Totally open to new experiences and new people. One day you will wake up and realize that you feel GOOD deep down. And although you will fear that the feeling is fleeting, it will continue. This feeling is simply your sense of well-being.

    Good luck on your adventures. BTW, I first experienced depression in my late teens, went on meds in my late 20s, and went off meds three times unsuccessfully. About a year ago, due to unemployment and lack of insurance, I weaned myself off of meds at the age of 49. After getting a great job, I started in therapy again and over the summer I thought that I would have to go back on meds. But I worked through some issues and have felt GREAT for three months, med-free. Really, I feel like the person I was as a child and young teen. It feels nothing short of miraculous, but I know that it took hard work on my part to stop overanalyzing and to get rid of bad habits. Take one day at a time, and SMILE. Let me know how you are doing!!

    #68131
    rosamundi
    Participant

    I’ve been working my way back out of a long depression too, and it still feels strange a lot of the time to me too. I’ve found so much of the material on this website to be very, very helpful, for moving away from depressive thinking, but I never really found very much anywhere when I tried searching for reassurance that being undepressed might feel downright weird.

    This is just a bit of odd thinking that has helped me – maybe it will give someone else a bit of encouragement too.

    Elsewhere, I’d come across the idea of ‘10,000 hours to mastery’, which is usually mentioned in the context of learning a musical instrument or language, or similar skill (and has been misrepresented anyway – article here explains it and how the phrase got taken up and reinterpreted – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26384712 ). Anyway, it occurred to me that skills are thinking patterns, so maybe a similar timescale could also apply to developing mastery of a more positive outlook, after so many years of the opposite.

    If I think of all the hours I’ve spent mastering digging those negativity channels so deeply in my brain, it’s hardly surprising that changing them doesn’t happen instantaneously, or that it would feel ‘wrong’ to think differently.

    I idly worked out how long 10,000 hours is. At 8 hours a day (8 hours positive thinking a day? hmm), that’s 2,920 hours in a year. So over 3 years to reach ‘mastery’. For all that the 10,000 hours figure is plucked out of the air, it did really help to think in terms of needing to practise a new skill for a good long while before it became automatic and comfortable.

    It encouraged me to keep battling on, hoping that non-depression would start to feel more normal, and it helped me to remember to ‘let go’ when it felt strange, rather than focusing on the strangeness.

    It’s about six months since I made myself a little reminder: “10,000 hours – 8 hrs/day = 3.5 yrs. Patience.” I can see a lot of progress since then – a distinctly increasing proportion of days where I can honestly say that I feel ‘normal’ again. I do still fall back to feeling really bleak again sometimes, and that is a shock every time (it feels almost as if the ‘better’ bits hadn’t happened), but I’ve got much more skilled at seeing it as old habits trying to reassert themselves, and then being able to dig myself out again.

    Tips and encouragement from other tinybuddha people like Julianne are invaluable. Knowing that others have been along this road before is really helpful. Thank you. One day at a time and SMILE. πŸ™‚

    #68216
    belove
    Participant

    Dear Jahx,

    Sometimes we want something so badly that the progress seems incredibly slow. I was there in the battles with the dark moods. You have my hugs. You said, “But it’s like 2 steps forward – 1 step back”. I see this as a call for celebration. You’re making forward progress. One of the secrets of life is being able to find joy in the journey, to embrace the present. Celebrate every lesson learned, every progress made. What it takes is momentum. Every new journey starts with a first step, no matter how small. Once you put in that first step and kept showing up, you will gradually gain ground on it.
    β€œThere is no path to happiness: Happiness is the path.” ~Buddha

    With much love and warmth.

    • This reply was modified 7 years ago by tinybuddha.
    #68260
    BenzRabbit
    Participant

    Hi Jahx,

    You are blessed to be out of depression after 10 years !

    You have been given a second chance in life !!

    Don’t rush anything or feel pressured in any way.

    Just keep moving forward and slowly everything will fall into place.

    God bless !

    #68557
    Megan Edie
    Participant

    I believe that all of us at some point or another will go through the most difficult and most painful things we’ll ever endure. And from what it sounds like, this is what is supposed to teach you about your life and what you need to do with it. Patience and compassion for yourself will help you further your growth as you learn to rebuild yourself after having depression. You’ll come out of it a much better person. Every day there is a lesson to learn and it’s up to you to take it for what it is and use it to your advantage.

    I know what it’s like dealing with mental illness and I want to congratulate you on getting healthy again. It’s difficult. But you made it here – count that as a blessing each day. No matter how many steps you take forward and end up getting pushed back, just remember how many steps you have taken. What you overcame is in no way shape or form easy to overcome.

    Always be patient with yourself. If you’re feeling a certain emotion, feel that emotion right then and there. Always make time to feel them.

    We always have to re-adapt to life because things are always changing. And that’s okay. If you really want to speed up your reconnection, do exactly what your emotions/gut are telling you. Sometimes you might have to cry for a good 45 minutes or sleep a whole day, or maybe you feel like being joyous. Go with the flow of your body and it will take you where you need to go. Don’t think about where it will take you – your mind and your body will be your guide and you will feel whole. Patience with yourself is the best key to emotional freedom. Natural pacing is usually the best route here.

    Again, congratulations on such an amazing feat. These things aren’t recognized enough when they are accomplished.

    Have a wonderful day and keep going strong, Jahx. You’ve got this!

    #68603
    Dora Anne
    Participant

    Hey there,
    I know how this feels and it does feel weird. But the fact u acknowledge it is a step in the right direction. What helped me a lot was taking time off in a new place, go for a trip at least a couple of weeks to a new location with a different culture to your own.. it really makes u feel blessed. I really liked going to s.e asia it really opened my eyes to things and staying in hostels/hotels around new happy people, going on tours, hanging out. Its a pretty awesome thing i went with a friend, i would recommend that, but really it is a step by step thing. . Every little step counts be grateful for your opportunity to be πŸ™‚ even if u don’t go on a holiday really make mindfulness part of your everyday.

    #68619
    Anne
    Participant

    This is exactly what I’ve experienced after coming out of depression (and an unhealthy relationship) – it’s good, but it’s like I don’t remember how to enjoy myself! I think of it as being like a soldier coming home from war, or a convict released from prison – it’ll take a while to adapt to civilian life. First time I picked and enjoyed a film at home for myself was like a lightbulb going off πŸ˜€ Small steps, we’ll get there!

    #70057
    den385
    Participant

    Thank you everybody!

    Your support is encouraging πŸ™‚

    Happy New Year! )

    #70060
    Jeff
    Participant

    Just my view after similar feelings… Think of it like you are having a drink from a glass/cup.. you find somewhere along that drink that you do not like the way it tastes, so you empty your cup and try something different. You enjoy the different flavor but something is not right. What you failed to do was clean the cup before filling it again. Sounds like you are holding onto something, most likely fear of becoming depressed again.. but keep in mind that knowing the path and walking the path are 2 different things, and no one ever said it was a race!!!

    #70068
    den385
    Participant

    “Killing Dragons”

    Sorry for lots-of-words ;D

    Prolog


    @jeffw
    I got my cup clean of dp at summer ’13. ‘Fear of becoming depressed again’ didn’t bother me since. I understood my depression, I appreciated lessons I got as necessary for my way. I came into a limb between depression and life. First, it was very light and sunny – but I felt like a retired person – I wasn’t feeling alive, it was just peace. I was 26 and sitting quietly at peace felt wrong. Dp was gone, but life hasn’t restarted automatically. Then I discovered ‘chains’, mental blocks, holding me away from life. They were ‘dirt’ too, but not the endogenous depression stuff. More like trials. Now I call ’em “Dragons”: financial insecurity, realty rights, my family relations, my professional competency, self-confidence, bad nerves. I tried to kill ’em all at once at sep-dec ’13, yet achieved little. I got myself nervous exhaustion & a near-year apathy until autumn ’14. Then I came out of apathy and became stuck at the point described at this thread’s initial post.

    Dragon #1

    When I started this thread, I was holding on to fear of getting broken by life again. I nicknamed this block as “Dragon #1” πŸ™‚ Stuck in this state from oct’14 till mid’dec’14. I was slowly going through some inner “white silence”, one meter a day. I had Hope, an own project to do – a first step in the World, that pushed me forward. And I had Fear of losing my inner self in complexity of life again. The Hope was a little stronger so I had progres – yet, veeery slooow. That’s called ‘ambivalence’ – like the “two wolves” metaphor. You go along life with two wolves: hope & fear. When they battle inside you, the one you feed better finally wins.

    In dec’14 I learned how to make Fear starve. There is an inner state that some call “center”. It is the point of balance at the intersection of spiritual, instinctive, rational and emotional modes. I got there and, with time, have learned to maintain it. To keep calm center on the way feeding only Hope. The technique of getting to center is still not 100% clear to me.

    First, I had a ‘recipe’: everyday sport, every workday doing my craft, every eve having time to freely rebuild myself, every bedtime having an 8 min meditation, every night having unrestricted sleep – all this mapped into a stretchy timetable.

    Second, at some point I learned to maintain equilibrium – I was always mindful of three ‘trials’ that can ruin this hard-won centeredness: desire, fear and social call. I analyzed my thoughts when I felt like I’m losing heart, losing center, and labeled them in terms of being another ‘trial’ or some healthy thing. Practically that meant that I started filtering very much all that could have distracted me from my project – social networks, series, offline socialization atc.

    Third, from meditation I learned how to let go compulsive thoughts, ‘control freak’, ‘hyper organizer’ and procrastination. It is learning to keep distance between consciousness and ‘monkey mind’ that helped.

    Then, this ‘center’ thing brought me into the ‘eye of the storm’. Like I’ve built a mental citadel at core of myself and all the fear was storming outside, unable to shake my positive mood.

    And then I could calmly look Fear in the face and discover it’s “true name”. Discover that for me on my own life at that point seemed not so good a thing. 10 years I was drived by the will to live, thru all my depression, and now here Life was – just reach into it. And I thought – do I want to suffer again? what for? Do I really need to go out of this ‘limb’ between depression and life? I thought, maybe fork it and just go downshift to India or some zen temple. Get lost. Find job with money and no challenge. Never try to conquer something. Turn back on the world as it did on me. Exist in limb.

    But then I grasped my responsibility for others – family, friends, communities of various scale in which I participate. I felt some call of duty. It’s a little like “Lion King” story: you can escape responsibility, become an escapist. Or you can accept responsibility and start conquering your ‘kingdom’ back. Because you love it. Because it’s your place in life. Because this is who you are.

    Epilog

    After I came through this decision point, Fear vanished. “Dragon #1” was killed. Finally I could sleep only 8 hours a day again, not 12 – and get asleep in 15m instead of 3h and all other bonuses.

    That was mid of dec’14. I still felt empty. There were still things to work through. But there was no Big Fear anymore. I felt like I crossed the Rubicon and got into the Life’s margin.

    #70075
    Adam
    Participant

    The quick answer is yes, you perceive your ability to adapt slower when you first begin the process of adaption. When depressed the mind moves quickly to one scenario after another and is constantly working to deal with the stress this causes. However, when one chooses to change their mindset and live presently, they see that life moves at a slower pace than the mind does. Meditation is key to staying present and essential to overcoming the desire to slide back into a depressing mindset.

    There is no way to speed up your connection to your life. The harder you try to force a connection, the more distant one will become. Oneness with life must be earned in order to be appreciated. If we are given something without working for it, then our ability to express gratitude is limited. There are certain lessons that need to be grasped that take time to understand. Life is a short process, my friend.
    “Success is about the journey, not the destination.” Enjoy the process and find happiness in the present moment. In this moment, you’re striving to be better, you’re choosing to overcome depression with happiness and you’re learning how to empower yourself. That is something you should be proud of and something that takes a lot of bravery. Just learn to have a sense of humor with life and realize that you’re exactly where you need to be.

    I hope this helps. Good luck on your journey.
    thepathofaronin.blogspot.com is my personal blog, feel free to check it out if you are ever in need.

    #70082
    den385
    Participant
    #73386
    Anne
    Participant

    Delighted to read your journey is going so well πŸ™‚

    #73419
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    My thanks to Anne for bringing this slightly older post back up. I have not been on this site for long and would likely otherwise not have seen it. Hearing the OP’s story gives me hope and the words of wisdom from others were very useful indeed as I suffer from a terrible amount of impatience with my own journey to happiness. So, thanks to all…

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