I think the healthy way of looking at a diagnosis of depression is to view it as finding out that you are diabetic and you will need insulin for the rest of your life. It is something that is not curable, but treatable and livable. It is something that you are stuck with and there is no cure, so looking at it as similar to getting a diagnosis of diabetes is very apt.
Even though there is no cure, there are many treatment options and many coping skills you can learn that will lessen your pain, and that is a goal worth working toward on a daily basis. Depression is not curable, but it is treatable. When treated, depression can go into temporary remission multiple-to-many times over the years, and working toward remission is a very healthy approach to take. It is important to continue to see your psychiatrist, take your medicine on time every day, and see a therapist once a week or more if you need it, especially in times of crisis or when you’re feeling suicidal. You also need to keep track of things you do or think that help you feel better or function better and write them down in a centralized location. You can write each tool on its own index card, and you can store the index cards in a shoe box, so that you can build a “toolbox” of helpful ideas to rifle through when you’re in pain and need a coping tool, or as many coping tools as it takes to lessen your pain. If you build your toolbox, you will soon have a wealth of healthy coping skills that can make your life more bearable.
If you are a person with depression reading this, here is what I want to say to you: Accept your depression, make peace with it, and then move forward with the hope of treatment and remission. Stay vigilant in keeping your appointments and taking your medicine. Start to build your toolbox, and use it when you’re in pain, even if that means you are using it all day, every day. You cannot be cured, but your pain can be managed.
Remember that you are your best and only advocate as a patient, and you need to write things down to take to your doctors’ appointments so that they can treat you appropriately. Don’t rely on only your memory to communicate with your doctor, because memory is fickle and fallible, and doubly so with a mental illness already in play. Most doctors’ appointments are very short, sometimes as short as ten minutes, so every sentence counts. You might not be able to see your doctor again for a few months. Stand up for yourself and your health by arming the doctor with as much good or relevant information as you can give them, and your reward will be finding the right medicines faster. If you become suicidal, tell someone and let them help you. Do not be afraid to go to the hospital, because that is the quickest, most effective way to improve your mental state and make your brain livable again.
Please also remember that you are the person most likely to save your life.
By Emily Harrington, The Goldfish Painter
I am not a doctor or any sort of mental health professional. I am a psychiatric patient with multiple mental illnesses that I have survived for 12 years now. My secondhand knowledge comes from doctors, psychologists, therapists, books, college courses in psychology, and the internet. My firsthand knowledge comes from the feelings, experiences, thoughts, symptoms, problems, and solutions that I have lived through. I know myself well, but again, I am not a professional. The information on this site is not a replacement for getting an actual diagnosis or professional help. Coping skills are fantastic, and I hope you learn some here and that they help you, but please seek and continue real medical treatment if you are struggling with mental illness. I wish you the best. You can do hard things.