When I was younger, I really struggled with the idea of needing to take antidepressant medication on an extended basis. Mistakenly, I thought that I could somehow pull myself out of a depressed mood, through sheer willpower.
I couldn’t do so, no matter how hard I tried. I would find myself crying, for extended periods of time. My motivation was seriously impaired. I wanted to completely withdraw from getting together with others.
Nevertheless, I erroneously concluded that I didn’t really need to take an antidepressant. Perhaps on some level, I was being very heavily influenced by the pervasive stigmatization that still surrounds mental illness.
Currently, I find it astonishingly hard to believe that I ever thought about depression as something that I was truly able to control on my own. I currently conceptualize depression as a mind-body disorder.
Depression is manifested by profound changes in sleep and appetite patterns, energy levels, and pain perception. Consequently, it really isn’t accurate to think about depression as merely a mental illness.
I know that depression is a chronic condition that I need to diligently manage. I realize that depression is no more within my control than is having relapsing-remitting MS, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or idiopathic subglottic stenosis.
Failing to treat my depression would inevitably have dire consequences. I never want to return to those exceptionally hard, dark days of never wanting to wake up again.
Untreated depression would also wreak havoc with my attempts to optimally manage multiple chronic illnesses. Being chronically ill is exceptionally difficult, on so very many levels. It truly demands that I am in the best possible emotional condition.