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Fighting Depression And Anxiety Relapse

evening photo taken in the garden

I don’t write often about it, not because I wouldn’t like to, rather because the whole issue was not a too big problem anymore, at least when I compare it with the past. The problem was that I suffered from depression and social anxiety years ago. I really got out of this mess, but sometimes things can bounce back for a while. I want to write about this today.

I want to fight over the last bastion, that means, I don’t want to feel healthy most of the time, I want to feel healthy all the time. When there are five bad days in a month, it’s still way too much. I often feel healthy for weeks, but then in another moment, things can bounce back at me out of the blue.

There are still days where I get an anxiety attack with all kind of symptoms, there are days I fall into a hole and the depression is back for a moment, and there are days with heavy sleep problems and that can be a big problem. What changed is that it happens rarely, or irregular but it still can happen at times.

Most of the time this was very acceptable because I know it could be worse, it could happen more often, because that’s something I experienced back then. It’s acceptable if it happens rarely, however, I am curious if it is possible to fight it back so that the disease doesn’t even come through a single day anymore. That’s what I want to achieve. I am happy how it is now, I just asked myself how it would be if I go one step further. That’s what I mean with fighting for the last bastion.

Apart from that, I am not very stress-resistant anymore. Whenever there is stress, the chance is big that I get some bad days again. While I feel most of the time very good, I realized this is still a huge problem if some bad days can interrupt a good week. Then there is the fact that I do still take antidepressants, even if it is just a very small dose, I want to live without that again some day.

I realized, it is fine as it is, but I believe it could be even better. I thought about this already a year ago and contacted a therapist. A long time passed, over a half year, but then I got my first appointments, that happened a little more than a month ago. I had my first appointments before Christmas 2014. First I wanted to find out if I am ok with the therapist. I think she is very friendly and I like to talk with her, I had already six or seven appointments now.

She does understand that I am not in a deep depression anymore, she does understand that my anxiety disorder is not severe anymore. I got out of this mess without much help. However, she did understand what I mean, I told her that there can be still bad days, and if there are bad days then I am controlled by the disease again and the day becomes a challenge. She does understand that I want to burst this barrier completely. That’s what we work on right now. I want to find out if I can learn anything new.

I am not that much of a person who seeks help from strangers. But I wanted to give it a try. I can leave this therapy at any time if I am unhappy, but who knows, maybe I do really learn some strategies. How do I feel about this therapist? As said, I think she is very friendly and wise. I am surprised, because I like to talk with her. We don’t only talk about my problems, there are minutes where we have some nice conversations about other things. In some moments it doesn’t even feel like a therapy at all, and this is really cool.

However, we also had some differences in some respects. I don’t agree with everything she says but we do talk about this. She doesn’t have a problem if I tell her “Nope, I think we are on the wrong track now”, because she just tries to understand me and my problems, and then she tries other directions. It’s good.

I am not really sure if I went into a therapy with the thoughts to go completely through this, I was rather curious. As said, I just asked myself if it might help. I am not even sure yet. I am just a little bit surprised that it helps more than I thought. I knew that talking can help because all my friends and family members listened to me too when I wanted to talk about it. Some people were always involved, especially when the disease was severe years ago. On this way, my loved ones helped me already to get out of the biggest mess, it’s just that I didn’t expect that talking with a stranger could make me feel good as well. But the reason is probably because I trust the therapist.

She did also get that I am somewhat well-read about the depression and anxiety subject, and even about some more broad medical subjects. She won’t explain me things that I already know, she is asking, and then she finds out what I don’t know to start from there. I think she really knows her stuff. I still don’t agree with all parts of the cognitive behaviour therapy and I told her, but that is not a problem, I am there to see if I can learn something helpful, I don’t have to agree with all parts. I got the impression that she understood, she told me that this is ok, and we agreed, we both are confident.

The antidepressants that I take since years, they do only damp the symptoms. Antidepressants don’t heal, that is the problem. If I would stop to take my antidepressants tomorrow, the chance would be big that I would get into a mess again. When she asked me what I expect from the therapy, I answered “To learn something that might make it possible to live without both, antidepressants and the disease”. She agreed, this would be an achievement we should work on. That’s it, that is my goal.

If I complete the therapy, that is a question that I can’t answer yet, however, I am very confident. At the moment it helps. If this impression stays, I would of course complete it. At the moment there are still round about twenty hours in front of me, we have a one hour appointment each week. I will find out if this is going well and if it really helps me.

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20 Comments »

  1. This is something that I didn’t know about you Dennis and maybe not an easy thing to write about for strangers. I’m glad that you have a therapist you trust and I wish you luck in achieving your goal. I am sure you will. Thank you for sharing.

    • Over the years it became easier to talk about it. Back then I didn’t understand and couldn’t accept how this happened to me. The time when I started to accept it as it is, that was the time when things got better. I opened to some close friends and family members and that improved everything as well.

      That also makes me think that my title is a little misleading, because fighting against it was the worst thing I did, accepting it helped much more, so much that I usually told close friends “I am 90% healed”. That’s how I feel since some years now.

      While this could be one of the reasons for recovery, I am still afraid that the antidepressants could be a very big reason too why I feel most of the time very good, but I can’t and don’t want to take them my whole life. This is what made me realize that a therapy might be helpful to learn things that will make it possible to live without the medicine.

      Thanks for reading, it’s not severe anymore, but it’s an area where I need to improve, where I need to make the mentioned changes with the medicine some day. Thanks for the wishes πŸ™‚

  2. This is a very honest post. People who don’t understand the situation usually think therapy and/or meds will fix things, but it never is truly fixed. You do sound like you’re on top of it though, which is great to hear. Thank you for sharing 😊

    • Yes, that’s it, all that can just be a help. Meds do just damp and therapists might be experts and can offer help. I noticed they can come up with some nice tips, but I simply can’t agree with everything. I don’t think that there are “behaviour rules” that apply to anybody.

      I can listen to the tips, but I do think that it’s much more complex than it is written in a book that a therapist studied πŸ™‚ But if the therapist does understand and respect this opinion, it can be really helpful.

      I see it on this way, if you buy a cook book that included fourty recipes, it doesn’t mean you want to cook all fourty dishes, you can just cook those that you think are great for you. That’s the analogy how I see my therapy, I just take tips that I think will help me, and it’s good if the therapist does respect it, this really creates trust.

  3. I hope hope that this might in some way be helpful.

    First, it takes courage to write about this but it is not only helpful to you but to others. That’s worth applause as is the endeavour itself. And, would add, I do not consider such things to be disease and certainly not a flaw or weakness, but injuries just the same as any physical one.

    I did did go through something similar many years ago and did eventually break the bastion.

    Part of the problem is that the experience creates links in a persons mind which leave a person vulnerable, as you have noted. Breaking those links takes time, but can be done.

    Depression brings with it a sense of pessimism and from that downward spiral. The alternate is an act of disbelief, installed by practice as an alternate link. It can be very powerful. That is, for example, “I do not believe that going out and doing this thing will be no good, it’s just the depression talking. Discovery being better than prediction whilst in a pessimistic mood. I will not let it control me”. Occasionally the activity will be far better than you thought which then reenforces the alternate link and the motive. It takes a while, but with a little persistence, one also discovers it’s worth. It is, of course, a version of CBT but a powerful one and have found that it has worked for others as well as myself.

    Nevertheless pursing the original cause that may relieve you of burdens that you do not know you carry. That’s another pursuit for later and more evolutionary than curative.

    Anxiety attacks ( which I would call Accumulated Stress Attacks) cause such strong affect because there is often no clear enemy, therefore the Flight or Fight (or Hide) response is unavailable. Since you cannot get away from it the best short term approach is to get angry with fear itself and so provoke he Fight response. For example “How dare this interfere with my life, I will not stand for. Whatever it is, it has no right to do this”.

    But, But; it is a powerful affect to be used very carefully, knowing you have the ability to restrain any rash behaviour and can turn it off when it’s done it’s job..

    Again, knowing the original cause may relieve a person of burdens they do not know they carry. But, it is better not to rush the matter.

    Sometimes severe anxiety is the result of angers which we have not allowed to surface. I believe it is the cause of “Night Terrors” in adults. It seems to result from repressed angers that “leak” around the sides and present themselves as external threats. If you think that might be an element. then get back to me. There is a remedy but needs to be approached very carefully.

    Other than this. Do you get very breathless when you have these attacks ?

    What you are engaging in can, if you wish, be a long term evolutionary path. That is the greatest investment in your life and yields a greater return than anything else. But, being careful, considered, patient and thorough keeps a person on the rails for best effect.

    Good Luck
    G

    • Hi Graham,

      You bring some great points here. First of all, yes, I do agree, I didn’t write too often about it but when I did then it really helped me to understand myself. That’s one of the big reasons in general why I like blogging about all kind of stuff. You get more aware about things you learned, also your own feelings, and you maybe can even help others.

      Related to anxiety and depression I always had the idea to create some posts about it with my experience. The thing is that I went through a hard time but now it’s pretty much better. I see some reasons for this apart from the meds of course. I changed a lot of things in my life and that helped a lot. I might write about this at some point because as you said, it might help people that do now have the problems I had. I was also engaged in some related forums to encourage people, because I found people too who gave me some good tips back then..

      Related to the cogitation aspect you mentioned, I did something very similar after years. But first I went the usual wrong route…

      I would usually have taken close attention to the anxiety symptoms, and thoughts came up like “Oh, no I feel bad now, it will get worse, it feels bad, I must go home” for example and all kind of other negative thoughts that would make me dive even deeper into the problem. That is the vicious circle many talk about. Day by day you get afraid about more situation were you got these attacks and I started to be very worried about it (that’s were my depression started because of the thoughts). I felt sick all the time, I got anxiety attacks at least twice a day and the whole situation started to make me depressive with thoughts like “Why can this happen to me?”.

      But back then, at some point, I got eventually tired to fight against it with my thoughts. I started to accept it with thoughts like “I have this since three years now, oh look today we have an anxiety attack again” point. Also if you experienced the feeling a hundreds of times that it feels like if you would choke, it doesn’t feel that bad anymore after a while and the though “It can’t control me” becomes natural. It’s bizarre and it was the time were the problems started to change, to have less impact, to occur irregular and not daily anymore. I think this is basically what you meant.. my thoughts were not focues anymore why it happened and how it happened, my thoughts accepted now that a panic attack happened. This is why I agree pretty much with you.

      One of the reasons was that I didn’t question it anymore “I am ill”, and I stopped to make a secret out of it. When I usually would have told friends “No, sorry I have no time today because of.. emm…” I now started to tell very close friends “Look, there is this problem I never told you about” and was amazed to find out that it was not a bad decision. Most still respected me with my problems, they supported me, those who didn’t, I don’t care. That means it came also with life lessons like “Who are the true friends that support you even if you feel bad”. I basically created a much more healthy enviroment around me on this way. You get less anxiety attacks if you know there are people around you who know it could happen that you feel bad. But eventually it doesn’t happen anymore, at least not that often anymore. That’s where I started to go outside again to have fun with friends and so.

      Year for year my life quality came back. Once I felt bad 30 days a month, now maybe around 5 days a month. Now there are even months too were I feel completely fine.

      It’s some kind of irony that the anxiety problem came first, but then followed by a depression that created a depressive thought process like “Yet again another anxiety attack, I couldn’t care less because that’s how it is since years now, I know what will now happen, it’s been that shitty for a while”. These thoughts did finally break two thirds of the bastion walls if we stay with this analogy. That was kind of hilarious that the followed depression fought back against anxiety attacks or thoughts. It’s even more hilarious when you learn that this is basically something very similar your therapist tells you too with the Cognitive behavioral theory.

      That brought back life quality, however, it made the anxiety also more unpredictable which is bad. That’s were I am today. It’s totally unpredictable, only linked to stress, but stress is unpredictable as well. The anxiety basically manifested itself on another way now and seeks other holes. That’s were your term fits well “Accumulated Stress Attacks”. Now it’s on this way that anxiety can’t come up with a normal stress level anymore, but if this wall is broken, if the stress level is high, then it will come through again. But even there, I might get through this on the same way if I think “Ok now it comes up because I am stressed, but even here it can not control me”. But as it is more unpredictable now, it’s also harder to practice now and to see effects. And finally also because I do still take a small dose of meds, they damp symptoms as well, which makes anxiety attacks yet again more unpredictable and harder to work on.

      But this is why all this is in the works now. I am more confident than ever and hopefully I don’t need weapons like antidepressants anymore to breach the walls of this bastion. That’s the goal πŸ™‚ Even if I feel more healthy than ever, I can’t fully feel healthy if the meds to play still a big rule too why I feel most of the time good.

      About your question if I am breathless while attacks… I can’t answer this in short and it would heavily expand my already long comment. In short, yes that happened too. But in my case I can have a variety of symptoms while panic attacks. From being breathless to tremor over sickness followed by stomachache. I experienced a lot of symptoms so that it’s hard to list. But some of them are very common for anxiety, yes.

      If the anxiety is also due to anger in my case, it might have been back then but I think I got over this phase today. There was job related dissatisfaction, social and bureaucratic pressure, a few other problems that we all might have experienced like relation problems and so on. I’d say these problems were another piece of the puzzle back then. I’d say today it’s more that I suffered for too long with anxiety and that lead to the manifestation.

      That’s now the point where I usually say I am to 90% healthy and back to life, it’S the 10% that I need to work on. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for reading and the good input! I do agree that the thought process is very important. And sorry for my long comment, it’s just way to complex to keep it short. I am also happy to hear that you were able to break the bastion. Greetings!

      • Hi Dennis

        Long is not a problem. Articulating it does help to make sense of it which clearly you have already discovered.

        It sounds as if your thoughts started because your situation was untenable and the resulting anger/distress had no affective outlet.

        What remains is a heightened sensitivity which resulted from the trauma. It takes time for that to wear off. I found that it helped to be aware of the mounting effect and think back to the trigger which was not necessarily noticed at the time. For example; that was worrying, rude, embarrassing, unfair, aggressive, thoughtless, unkind, a put down etc.

        Freud recognised that we must suppress/repress these things all the time as a means of getting through the day.

        Unfortunately with a raised sensitivity we are more vulnerable. But, learning to recognise the subtle triggers helps us to get control. One trick is to frequently relax one’s shoulders and then think back to why and when they became tense. The cause is usually the result of heightened sub-conscious sensitivity and of little consequence when our conscious mind knows about it can use it’s more rational perspective..

        Best of Luck and Rock on

      • I pretty much agree with this. I do think too that we do bottle a lot of things up subconsciously. I did read some Freud too because I started to be interested about this subject over the years. But also other things related to anxiety and depression. I think reading in general helped a lot as well because if you start to understand how body and mind works, you indeed get more control. I think this is what they call psychoeducation today.

        I will rock on πŸ™‚ Thanks for the chat. And thanks for the wishes πŸ™‚

      • Yes to “I think this is what they call psycho education”, it is a great advance.

        Can’t reply directly because it’s gone beyond the thread level. There is a bug I’ve been meaning to post for ages. An author can reply beyond the thread level, via the notifications list, but in such a case the intended recipient does not get a notification, hence the delay. A person only finds out by going back to the post. It has probably stalled some conversations. πŸ™‚ Needs fixing.

    • Don’t worry πŸ™‚ Happens to me all the times πŸ™‚ I enjoyed and agree with your ideas. I think I have to be sorry, it was hard to answer in short.

  4. I agree with Graham, and from personal experience. I never broke the bastion, but I can survive the bad days. I am in my 70s. These problems began in mid-life and never really went away. I think you are on the right course Dennis. Talking is a very good therapy. Stay the course. Let us know how you are doing. I care, we care.

    • Thank you Vera. I didn’t know you suffered from this as well. Yes, over time you really learn to survive with this. But sometimes I thought too that it never would go away completely. Now it went more away than I imagined. I try the last bastion, if I have no luck, it’s ok. I just hope that I never fall back to what I experienced back then, because 6 years ago it was really strong with the anxiety and so, while the last 3 years now were really very acceptable. It is just that irregular and unpredictability now that it still can break a good week or month but you really learn to survive this. I agree, talking helps a lot and I would anybody suggest it. Vera I wish you all the best too. Take care too please.

  5. We all have bad days :). I deal with mine with some sports. If am feeling bad or worried or stressed, I clear my mind with a 45 min walk or a slow jog. I take my Mp3 player, I have some nice Trance music there and a couple of motivational Youtube videos (which I had converted to mp3).

    Try that one day :), even if you don’t feel like it (first 10 minutes of the walk are usually hard, after that, you start actually enjoying your walk/job and your mood gradually changes and you feel better)

    • I did that often last summer and I am waiting already for summer again, because it really helped a lot. It’s just more fun to walk or run when it’s sunny πŸ™‚ Also we have a garden now near the river and it’s a great place to walk, so, I think this strategy will be on my plan this summer again too. I agree with you. I should also walk more in the cold seasons, but that is not as much fun πŸ˜€

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