I've been thinking about depression a lot lately. OK, I'm pretty much thinking about it all the time in the way anyone with a chronic condition would, but recently I've been thinking about things I feel like writing down. Surely one of the joys of medication changes, whee!
A little while ago I saw someone mentioning the links between depression and creativity again. This crops up pretty frequently with some people insisting their creativity has been greatly enhanced by their depression and some people insisting that depression sucks their creative potential dry.
To me this illustrates what I think is one of the biggest misconceptions about depression, even shared by some of the people who suffer from it: that depression is just one thing, that it is only a single set of symptoms and that everyone who suffers from depression suffers in the same way. That's just not accurate.
Depression can mean periods of crippling sadness, but it can also result in uncontrollable strong emotions of a wide variety, or the inability to feel any strong emotions. It can affect the same person differently at different times. It can affect people differently depending on whether or not they suffer chronic depression, how severe their depression is, at what point in there life they first experience it, or a variety of other factors.
Even understanding the basics of this I still need to reassess from time to time. When my doctor would ask about my energy levels I would tell her they were fine, but the truth was I was only thinking in terms of physical energy. What I was having difficulty identifying was that I was suffering from a kind of mental fatigue that among other things made it hard for me to make choices, to put myself in situations that would involve interacting with other people, or even at times to read a book. Even after I had a suspicion of what was going on I kept forgetting to talk to my doctor about it, which began to make me feel like I was in a science fiction story (or an episode of House) where I was possessed by some parasite that would do whatever it took to keep from being dislodged. It also might have been related to my deep-seated problems with asking for help that requires medication, or my tendency to think of these kinds of symptoms as shameful personal faults, but I think it mostly pointed to one of the really frustrating aspects of depression, that it can be so difficult to identify the precise nature of your problem while you are still experiencing it.
Thankfully I was able to be open enough with my doctor about how much trouble I was in that she was able to point out to me that I was in trouble. As I mentioned earlier, this has involved a change in medication that at the moment seems to be very helpful. But I do wonder how long that will last, and how long it will be next time before I'm able to say that I need more help.