Living with Depression by Ken David Stewart
I have had to live with major depressive disorder for most of my adult life. I would estimate that this disease has consumed about forty percent of my productive years.
A few of the symptoms of depression are much more disabling than others. One of the most frustrating symptoms in my life is the severe and chronic fatigue that is commonly found in persons with this disorder. The chronic fatigue may be significantly prevalent for weeks and even months. Sometimes, I find that the fatigue and heaviness appears to go into remission for part of the year.
Why this happens, I am not sure. I am just extremely grateful to get these short seasons of relief. I tend to perk up a bit when the summer season comes along. This could indicate that I also have seasonal affective disorder.
The chronic fatigue that often accompanies depression may cause financial distress. Unless you have good group insurance benefits at work, you may find that your household income can be significantly depleted for parts of the year. When this occurs, worry and fear will usually appear.
I should state at this point that all chronic fatigue may not be attributable to the disease of depression. I have often found that a severe lack of energy may ensue after I have a serious viral or bacterial infection. When my cold and flu symptoms dissipate I have often found that my debilitating fatigue will continue for weeks or even months after. It is quite likely that I suffer from another illness known as CFS or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Chronic fatigue will almost always negatively impact one’s relationships with other people. Especially if they have a significant other. The depressive’s spouse finds that her husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend chooses not to go out with them or do much of anything, especially if the activity involves other people and socializing. The partner that is unaffected by major depressive disorder may find that they are spending an inordinate amount of their time alone, or are doing many extra curricular or social activities by themselves.
It’s not always that a person suffering with depression does not want to attend the occasional social function. Sometimes they wish they could go to an activity with their partner, but simply don’t have the energy to do it. Even if they occasionally feel that they may be able to ‘push themselves’ to go out, they may be worried that they will bring other people down. Who really wants to hang out with a depressed individual anyway?
When I am in my worst phases of depression I feel that I don’t have the energy to carry on a conversation with anyone. When the depressive thinks about going out for social or group or church event, all they can think about is how much of their already depleted energy it might take to shave, shower, brush their teeth, select and put on clean clothes, etc. The contemplated energy consumption may seem overwhelming to the depressed person. If the depressed individual owns a car they may ask their partner to drive as they believe that they may be too fatigued to operate a vehicle safely. Worry and guilt are two emotions that a person with depression will frequently encounter.
For the past two weeks I have been feeling relatively well. For most people there should be nothing special about this. For a person suffers from major depression disorder one good day is a day to be celebrated.
When I experience one or more happy days strung together, I started to get uncomfortable. I struggle the feeling of happiness in my life. It seems to be such a rare phenomenom for me. I’m so used to feeling depressed, without hope and having very little faith that my life will ever get any better. I was on my default setting when I was feeling exhausted and plagued by physical and emotional pain. I’ve have often thought that this was just my lot in life. I believe that this is why I am probably happier than the average person when I ocassionally experience a good day.
I went through a very rough winter season that seems to have started in November of 2016. I suffer from what my doctor termed a mild case of COPD. This illness appears in a mild form when I don’t have an upper respiratory infection. When I catch a bad cold or flu, everything changes for me. I’ve become so ill that I barely have the strength to get out of bed.
During my episodes of severe COPD in the past, I’ve been able to continue with my fiction writing, but not my substitute teaching. This time, however, even my writing was a ‘no go’. Not only did my body feel shut down, so did my mind. I couldn’t seem to string together two cohesive thoughts. I have been writing fiction novels and plays, oft and on, for several years now.
Although I am technically retired, I work part-time as a substitute teacher. I enjoy subbing very much and take as many assignments as much as my health and energy and energy levels allow. Presently, I’m on holidays and have been enjoying the last two weeks immensely.
I’ve experienced long periods in my life where I cannot feel joy in anything that I do. This affects every area of my life as why would I want to pursue activities that no longer give me any pleasure? This is what is known in the psychiatric literature as a condition termed adhedonia or the inability to feel pleasure in the ordinary experiences and activities of daily living. This is a very painful place to be.
Feeling somewhat better in December 2016, I returned to my work as a substitute teacher. The Christmas holiday season actually went relatively well for me and that is highly unusual. This was probably due to the fact that I had quality time to spend with my wife and my goddaughter. I will never forget the night all three of us watched Christmas videos. Most of them were very funny and I ended up doing something I haven’t done years. I laughed out loud.