I’ve been a sufferer of depression and anxiety for almost ten years now, and something occurred to me the other day: I’m not suffering right now.
It’s like the clouds parted and the light shined down on me and I realized that the symptoms of my depression are all but gone and my anxiety has been well enough managed that I haven’t had a panic attack in months.
Could it be that I am cured of my mental illnesses through medication and therapy, or is this just a remission, however brief, that I must cherish while it lasts?
I’ve got a great therapist now.
For the first time in my life, I have a great talk therapist who is giving me everything I need and everything I didn’t even know I was missing when it came to good therapy.
She’s a professional, unbiased person to talk to once a week who listens and gives her feedback and advice to me, but even more than that, she gives me actual skills to use in my daily life to change my ways of thinking.
This therapist doesn’t hesitate to pull a workbook off her shelf and find the page that fits the problem I am dealing with at any given time and work through it with me until I understand how it can or cannot help.
We’ve talked about “checking the facts” and “radical acceptance” and a host of other skills that have genuinely helped me get through the days.
When I am feeling overwhelmed now, I tend to stop and ask myself: Is this really a bad thing that is happening, is it happening at all, or is it just a thing that I am worried about happening?
I shouldn’t project into the future, because we never know what the future holds.
I should always remember that even when things are actually bad, they might not be bad for long, and the circumstances certainly won’t last forever.
Learning this skill, and using it in my daily life, have taken a lot of worries off my daily plates.
When I do start to worry, I know exactly how to shut it down — basically by questioning everything and then coming to realize that there is no benefit to worrying about things that might happen.
Be here now is really good advice.
My medication is finally working.
It took years, I mean years, to finally get to this point where I think my medication is working just as it should and that it doesn’t need any adjustments.
I’m finally going to my psychiatrist only once every two months, whereas a year ago I was seeing him biweekly, trying to get straightened out and changing pills and dosages constantly, trying to find a balance.
Now, I look forward to seeing him in a few weeks and telling him that I feel great.
I feel great, and I know it’s thanks to the medication as much if not more from the therapy, and I haven’t been able to say that in years.
Better living through chemicals I say, and I’ll argue anyone to the death who tries to tell me to get off them and fight depression and anxiety on my own.
I wouldn’t be alive today without these medications, that much I know is true.
But now, thanks to them, I feel more alive (and happy to be alive) than I have in years.
So is my depression cured?
I don’t feel like a depressed person anymore.
I don’t wake up each morning dreading the day, and I don’t spend days wishing all I could do is go back to bed.
I don’t weep over every little thing like I used to.
I don’t have constant feelings of dread and hopelessness.
I’m taking care of myself better than I was before.
From what I know, depression and anxiety disorders are things that people live with their whole lives, and if there was a real cure for depression, I mean, why would there be so many of us still struggling with mental illness?
I think I am in a kind of remission, or at least I am in a position of having things under control in a way that makes me feel like my depression and anxiety are a thing of the past.
But I have to keep an open mind and heart about this.
I have to stay vigilant: keep going to therapy, keep taking my meds, and keep fighting for a better life that makes me feel good about myself and the progress I’ve made outside of the medical offices.
Because I don’t know when the darkness might creep back into my life, and if and when it does, I have to be prepared to take it on and fight for my life all over again.
As we do.