not technically depressed but is this as good as it gets?
June 30, 2014 6:06 AM Subscribe
I believe that popular wisdom holds that contentment or real inner peace is the goal for those who have been depressed and who have pulled out of the hole.
But what about people who have been unhappy since childhood, for example. One popularly cited data point for whether someone has diagosable depression is they lose interest in what they've loved doing, and this notion assumes that they've had a chance to develop hobbies or friendships at some point until they became depressed.
So short of having had hobbies or friends to return to, at what point do people "stop being depressed"? (I know that there are manuals that professionals use to tally up symptoms, but I am asking not about technical definitions of depressed versus not; I'm asking about the experience. Has anyone experienced a bright line shift in their thinking?)
I hate to ask a question that seems so big or open ended and yet limited to essentially friendless people, but I've had confidence issues and experienced unhappiness since childhood, and I am nearing my thirties. There are a lot of people who go through a lot worse, but my coping mechanism has never been strong. All through life I've had very few close friends--probably none--and I have trouble getting close. True intimacy is so, so unlikely for me, although my psychiatrist keeps telling me that I need to take steps to be vulnerable. Emotional openness will lead to closeness, intimacy, connection, which I actually do crave.) Anyway, I have been getting professional help for months now and believe that I have pulled out of diagnosable depression. I have tried a drug, and it didn't do much for me. It made me feel ill for weeks, though, so I'm not likely to try another medication, and the professional with whom I work has not even suggested it.
But the question that I've posed to my psychiatrist two or three weeks in a row now is whether this, my life as it is now, undepressed, is as good as it gets. Maybe I will one day find blinding happiness through some sensational, situational turn of events, but short of that, have I found my baseline?
I can't explain it properly, but I had more hope about my prospects several months ago when I started therapy for the very first time. In the intervening time, I have made steps toward progress that include a lot more physical exercise, forcing myself to do certain social things and to be more assertive in social and professional contexts. So I have improved my life in some commonly suggested ways. And in general I feel more functional and, as I described it, "much less consistently miserable."
Has anyone had a similar experience with pulling out of depression? Have you always been able to tell whether you are depressed? Have you experienced identifiable contentment after having never experienced it in your life?
Sorry for writing such a long, meandering post. I am feeling better but am looking to see that there is hope for more.