Friday, July 07, 2006

Crawling out of depression...

I was a bit melancholy today, maybe at 1 kilorat (or a little more) of depression.

There has been a push in psychiatry of late to determine the success of treating depression by complete remission, not merely improvement.

I am not in remission.

Depression always hits me like a ton of bricks. I wake up one day and the world has gone black-and-white and my core has been removed. Luckily, for years I've been warned by depressive dreams to increase or augment my medication a number of times. This time I can't remember a warning, and I've been struggling for over three months.

Although for me the onset of depression seems instantaneous, coming out of it can be very gradual.

For those who have not experienced it, being depressed is like a being hollowed out. Afterwards nothing remains between the dead walls of the log that encircle what never was.

With treatment, the log has to imagine it's being filled with wood again. But that wood now has a ghostly quality, because bipolars and serious unipolars, though they regain their lives, can never forget how their lives were so easily snatched from them. Life never has the same solidity again. Which makes one's personality feel very much like a construct even when one's mood returns to "normal."

A bad depression is a death and a birth, For example, as I improve I'm trying to get to know my wife again and why I love her so much--what it feels like to love her instead of acting intellectually as if I did. That's how I survive depressions, by the way, "having to construct something to hope upon"--pretending. Pretending in my chemical despair until my neurotransmitters recalibrate and life becomes real again.

I write this today because it's rarely talked about. There's much more to say about it, but I'm done for now.

Thine in Kilorats or Kilobunnies,

C. E. Chaffin


  1. Thank you for such a personal and insightful account of depression.

    You are so right depression affects so many people but it is so rarely spoken about. It is also so debilitating and disabling.

    I wish you all the best on your journey to recovery.

    I hope you don't mind me asking but have you tried any 'talking therapies'?

  2. Twice I entered therapy; once as a psychiatric resident with a Freudian, and once with an object-relations therapist.

    Both were disasters and made my depression worse. The lack of feedback in the analyst's office made me emotionally labile. If you go back in my blog you can read the poem, "The Glass Giraffe," based on the second experience.

    Studies from the fifties showed no improvement for bipolars with long-term analytic therapy. I say medications, medications, medications, routine, pretending to exist--and if all fails, ECT can save you.

    Clinically, cognitive-behavioral and supportive therapies are supposed to be of some benefit. But all the talking in the world can't change my mood when it's stuck. I wait for the mud to dry, then I can walk out of the pit. But I credit medications and time, though ECT saved me once.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    C. E. Chaffin M.D.

  3. I like your Blog, you are to be commended. I plan to write some topics on depression myself at some stage. I have been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and have some poetry on my Blog you may want to check out some time.
    Kind regards, Lisa

  4. Thank you for your precise descriptions of what depression is like. I have been struggling with it for over 10 years, and feel exactly as you have described- the hollowness, pretending until you are stable again, death and rebirth (thus the name phoenix), and the problems with intimacy. I am in the middle of a bad time right now, and am using blogging as a kind of therapy.

    I enjoy your blog and will stop by again to see how you are doing. I like the Kilorats and Kilobunnies, too!


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