I’m not even sure where exactly to start here, who this is for or why exactly i’m writing it but supposedly it’s if you want to learn about the topic or hear my experiences with it, how it changed me and how i cope with relapse.
What IS depression
This might seem unnecessary but its very important. In my experience the word “depression” is not only stigmatized but also misused a lot. It’s, how do i put this, what people often call depression on a short notice isn’t depression. moreover its feelings of boredom, sadness or remorse. I don’t want in any way to discredit or downplay those feelings, they are very real and might well require treatment, but they are not depression.
So what is depression then? Depression is uhmm, id say a collection of sensations and emotions that stay for a long time and affect your day to day live in noticeable negative ways. There are a few common symptoms like:
- Social retraction
- Neglection of bodily needs
- Sleep issues …
But the experience can also vary a lot from person to person and depression can present itself in a lot of different ways.
How did it start for you
I started getting actually depressed around May/June 2023, i can’t tell you exactly when because back then i didn’t know it was depression. The sensation started with social retraction, i should add that i was always very introverted but during that time i pretty much turned into a hikikomori, for no particular reason other that i didn’t have a reason to be with others, i do have friends but these are not in my area and i didn’t have anyone else really here where i live.
The next what happened after 1-2 weeks was a deep feeling of sadness and pain in my chest, i was aware the pain was mental, don’t ask me why but i assume because it was always or often accompanied by this sadness. By this time social retraction has gotten to a point seeing even family members became a strain.
Shortly after i started with another very common depression effect: being unmotivated(but not that you don’t want to do something, you literally can’t make up the energy to do it even though you wan’t). I stopped working and also stopped programming entirely. Yes entirely, i could not bring myself to do them, even not for fun. Added to that i also actively started with self harm, cutting myself specifically. I only played Lost ark during that time out of habit and it was a last resort escape place for the most severe effect depression had on me:
The most extreme sensation i had and have sometimes still from depression is the sensation of feeling no emotions, none. Neither joy nor sadness nor anything. As in i just felt nothing, anything was equal, even though when i had visits from family or friends it did nothing with me which wasn’t easy for them either. Touching me physically during that time also became impossible for anyone, the social retraction and resulting social phobia got to a point getting a hug from a family member or friends was not possible. I should also add that family was not the first to learn i had depression but rather friends, simply because i felt more comfortable sharing it with them, over family. But when they learned they tried to be supportive to the degree i was able to support, since for me a lot of stuff which you would call normal like talking or getting groceries or making appointments became basically impossible for me.
How did you get help
I probably won’t go into much detail here because it’s still “fresh” for me and also resolves a lot about suicide thoughts/attempts.
At a certain point it became obvious to me that even though friends and family where very supportive, that it was not going to last much longer without professional help, the suicide thoughts where too present at that point and also otherwise it wasn’t like there was much of my prior self left i guess?
So on a Wednesday midday i wen’t into the ER of a big hospital here in Berlin with a friend who was in Berlin then by accident(I’m not sure i would have made it alone). I didn’t have to wait very long because of a big cut on my forearm which apparently needed stitching, but after that it was a waiting game for most parts of the day. I then talked to a psychiatrist, i should mention that keeping eye contact was not possible for me, just merely trying to answer the questions he had took a big part of my energy. After evaluation he also shared the view that it was very urgent for me to get professional help and also asked me to stay at the hospital, even though not that hospital, because it turns out i had to move to a different hospital which is responsible for the district i’m living at. So after waiting a bunch more and getting there(by a kind of ambulance but not really) and waiting a good while longer, getting blood taken and a EKG written in the meanwhile, i spoke to a psychiatrist there(it was 11pm by then). He also asked me to stay but i said i can only do that if you have single bed rooms, which again i had a bad social phobia back then. So after some discussion back and forth he brought up “Tagesklinik” which translates to “Day Clinic” which is a part of a hospital for people for mental health issues where you basically stay from morning through the afternoon but then sleep at home, looking back at it now it would probably have been better to stay at the hospital because from the day i was in the ER to the day i was taken by the day clinic, two weeks passed and it only worked because of help from my friends and family through other friends pushing the urgency.
I should maybe reiterate that i don’t think i would have lived much longer without that step, depression and resulting suicide thoughts is a very dangerous cycle and you might realize to late, i only did realize just in the right time because i had the luck of having contact with friends(even if not irl) who pushed me to do that step and went with me the entire way of it and everything after.
It’s the place which saved me i suppose? (alongside some amazing friends, even if remote). I stayed there for 6 weeks in total, most of the activities you do are in a group and obviously resolve around depression and depression related stuff but there`s also stuff like dance therapy, music and so on. On top of course 1:1 sessions with therapists.
The Fact it was group based made it very very very difficult at first for me because of the social phobia but it was also the best ground for improving that, especially since you are around people who have similar experiences and don’t judge you or wonder, most of them have been there(even if maybe not such an extreme social phobia). The Social phobia, suicide thoughts, self harm events and most importantly feeling emotions slowly came back over the 6 weeks and I’ve received a lot of good feedback about the improvements there from friends. Overall the things i learned there, the people i met, the structure it gave me had a huge impact on me in a positive way.
The most important learning not only from the day clinic but the entire experience since it started is that I’ve learned a lot about myself and how i work emotionally, so even though it was a horrific experience it had as positive to understand more how i work, react and response emotionally and taught me a lot to deal with sensations and emotions, positive and negative.
I think the most important positive lesson i took from this experience is that it can get better and there are people who genuinely care about you even though it might seem unreal in a bad depression. Further that depression is something even if dangerous can be dealt with and improved. do not be judged over it by family or friends(even if a lot couldn’t relate) non ever judged me over it.
There are a few negatives but i don’t want to put them too much in the spotlight but to make it short: knowing such an episode can happen again, I’ve taken a few physical scars from that episode and lastly I’ve become very sensitive around the topic of depression or anything remotely related because it instantly puts me back in a faint shadow of the sensations i guess?
I wan’t to quickly touch the subject here, i take an antidepressant called Sertraline (zoloft), 100mg a day. It has had a very positive effect, admittedly it had a few side effects at first(i was at 50mg/day then) like sleep issues, sweating, and some light trembling of the jaw, but these went away after a few weeks. The Sertraline was not the main reason the depression got so much better, that was people and the Day Clinic but it did gradually help by supporting a better mood, i should point out though that it was very gradual and not something which happened over night.
This is the main reason i’m writing this because while the depression was entirely gone for 2-3 months after the day clinic it has been manifesting itself again since the Christmas time, a little before Christmas i also saw my local psychiatrist who advised to increase Sertraline to 100mg/day due to my worsening mood there already. It’s not close as bad as it was in August/September. But the chest pain, lack of emotions and so on has been manifesting itself a bit over the last few weeks. But I’ve had this before and also have learned a lot how to deal with it and how to combat it so i’m confident its going to get better soon again, maybe a bit from Sertraline but mostly from experience and friends, having people knowing you have depressions and being there for you can make it so much easier
That`s it for now…Thanks for reading