So I’ve finally made up my mind to talk to my GP about the depression that I think I’m suffering from. I have a few days before my appointment and I’d like to get a clearer handle on things before I see him. Can you help me unpack some of this?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Some background : Mid 20s, male, English. Although I never sought help at the time I believe that I went through quite a serious depressive episode during the year after finishing university. I was unemployed at the time and remember feeling absolutely worthless, guilty all the time, regularly crying myself to sleep, imagining what people would say about me at my funeral, thinking it would be better for everyone if I were dead, and so on. It was awful beyond words. I felt destroyed. This episode was sort of ‘cured’ by travelling abroad for six months at a family member’s insistence.
Since then I’ve never dropped so low again, but I’ve been consistently underemployed, have no friends at all, still live with my parents, have only ever had one girlfriend (whom I was with for years and years from a stupidly young age), and generally feel like a failure. However, I’ve also taken some evening classes, then part of a Masters degree, and had fun doing them. I’ve also held down an admin job and done a reasonable job at it, though I felt ashamed to be so underemployed (not helped by colleagues and family saying things like ‘but you’re so intelligent, what are you doing here/there?’). So I have some work/social/family issues mixed up in all this too, but is there also a medical element?
I’ve now been unemployed for months (previous job died of natural causes – end of contract), though I’ve been consistently going to some classes, turning papers in on time, and getting excellent grades. I’ve been applying for jobs, but not nearly as many as I should be, and I’ve been procrastinating and ruminating to a ridiculous degree. I’ve been putting off applying for jobs until the deadline passes, and I’ve been spending more time torturing myself inside over my unemployment than trying to fix the situation. For the past few months I’ve been thinking to myself that I should really go and talk to a doctor because I’ve been having shades of the feelings I used to have during the Awful Year. I kept putting it off until the end of the academic year, and since then I’ve put it off for two months longer. More recently the negative thoughts and feelings have become much more potent and frequent, but not constant. Right now I feel at a relative low, but at the end of last week I remember thinking and feeling quite well and at peace. This shift has happened a few times over recent weeks and I’m not sure how much to make of it. Maybe I’m just fooling myself on good days. Another thing I sometimes ask myself is – what if I’m just used to being depressed all the time now – what if I never really got over it before and now I just have times that are relatively better and relatively worse, but never truly well? I’m not sure I believe that. I don’t know. The more I try to figure it out, the foggier it all seems, which is partly why I’m asking for advice.
Anyway, the ’symptoms’ that I’ve been having recently are:
- Reduced activity (going out, reading, doing) and increased web-surfing and time-killing.
- Suicidal thoughts – but not of a kind that seems dangerous – I really don’t think I’d ever do anything like that. More like, if I think about my future, my career, about how I should be filling in that application form I’ve had open for days, I very quickly and fleetingly think ‘I should just kill myself’. It’s been happening much more recently (several times a day) and I think it’s more a bad thought-habit than a desire to actually harm myself. Just to reiterate – I don’t need to phone the suicide hotline or whatever. The only way I’d ever really kill myself is if I’d been bitten by a zombie, but it can’t be right to have suicidal phrases running through my mind every day, can it? I’m sure this didn’t happen so much a year or eighteen months ago.
- Irritability/anger (this is very out of character for me, I get ticked off like anyone else, but at the moment everything seems to be ticking me off, other times though I feel quite full of love and peace, but those are in the minority).
- Some tiredness and lethargy.
- Feeling tearful but not crying. My breath sometimes rattles a bit as if I had been crying (that used to happen during the Awful Year).
- The voice in my head seems slower recently and my intellectual curiosity seems diminished.
- I’ve been speaking less. I’m a quiet person anyway, but much more so recently. This used to happen during the Awful Year.
- Sometimes I feel very hopeless about the future and seem to have an uncharacteristically pessimistic and cynical outlook. Sometimes everything I hear people say seems to be a coded metaphor for my own failings.
- More generally, I seem to try not to get to know people too well because I don’t want them to see me for the failure that I am. It’s hard to really describe this. Avoiding eye-contact used to be part of it I think, but I can bluff through that now.
So really, after almost 1000 words, I don’t know what my question is any more. I suppose what I’m looking for is some clarity – does any of the above sound familiar, does it fit a pattern? If I was going to see the doctor about a pain in my knee, I’d find out all that I could about knee problems before seeing him, I'd see if the pain in my opposite ankle was related, but this is all so foggy. What do you think?
- I’ve been trying to learn a musical instrument for the last couple of weeks. I think I’ve been enjoying it. Does that mean I’m not really depressed?
- I still laugh at jokes, hard. Does that mean I’m not really depressed?
- I’ve learned some new three-ball juggling tricks over the last few months. I’m really pleased with myself for learning them. Does that mean I’m not really depressed?
- I get out of the bed in the mornings, get showered, generally drive someone to their workplace, go to the supermarket, things like that. Does that mean I’m not really depressed?
- I never miss appointments, and I got my car repaired last week (which involved multiple visits to more than one mechanic). Does that mean I’m not really depressed?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this mess. I’m really very grateful. Anything you could offer would be appreciated.