Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sometimes I forget I have depression...

Sometimes I forget I have depression.

Not because I've suddenly recovered from it or it's miraculously gone away, but because most of the time, I am so focused on the fact that I have and eating disorder and I need to recover from my eating disorder. I never really, truly think about recovering from my depression. 

When I think about recovery, I always think about it in terms of eating disorder recovery. I guess that's because it's so easily tangible, whereas depression recovery is not. With eating disorder recovery, I can see the recovery by seeing records of my following my meal plan, by being told by my doctor that I am in my weight range, by no longer being orthostatic or bradycardic. But with depression recovery, it seems like the only thing defining recovery is the ambiguous 'feeing better.' 

I guess depression recovery can be measured by how much more I am leaving my house, how much less I am isolating, how many times I reach out to friends, but none of that seems to signify recovery to me. My depression is this all-consuming feeling of drowning, of being suffocated in this endless pool of hopelessness and pain. It is like being in a cave full of only darkness, where there are absolutely no exits anywhere. It's continual grieving for something that you never knew existed. 

Depression is not so much behavioral as an eating disorder--more mental and emotional, but it is so much more complicated than that. All that depression is becomes so mangled and tangled up inside of my head and interwoven into my life that operationally defining it is not something I can do. I know people have done it--professionals--but defining and explaining it for me, as someone who experiences its intricacies and quirks day in and day out, nothing seems adequate. 

It wasn't until recently I actually noticed I've been completely forgetting about my depression. I obviously know it exists... It crosses my mind every night when I take my antidepressants that, "Hey, Sarah, you have depression and if you stop taking these drugs, you'll soon feel like shit." But other than that, it's hardly ever a thought. 

A little over a week ago, I spent my part of my night/early morning in the emergency room because for the first time in months, I had selfharmed and I was worried I may have gone a little too far. A friend decided I needed to go to the hospital, whether I wanted to or not--I was definitely on the side of not, and so we went. I spent that early morning and the days following trying to figure out exactly what had happened, what had triggered me to do what I did that night. And no matter how much I thought about it, I was not able to quite discern what happened (usually it is fairly simple to see a causal relationship with my behaviors). 

It's slowly come to me that I used selfharm as a way to cope with the overwhemingness of the depression that I was feeling inside of myself that night. Nothing happened to trigger it, just like nothing ever happens to trigger it. It just is, sudden and suffocating. 

I guess lately that I've just been tuning out my depression, focusing on the tangible aspects of my eating disorder recovery, seeing everything I was feeling as an effect of no longer using eating disorder behaviors, and ignoring the fact I have a dual diagnosis of an eating disorder AND depression. 

I've realized I can't treat one and just ignore the other. Recovery does not happen on it's own, and although eating disorders and depression can share similar symptomology, they are not the same illness. I have to work on recovering from both. So now it's time to focus on both maintaining the progress I've made in my ED recovery and learning how to manage and live with my depression. 

Because even though I sometimes forget about it, I do have depression and it does highly impact the qualitiy of my life.