If I have learned anything over the past year it is that depression is a constant battle where the person suffering it is constantly in a kind of combat with their own brain. Medication is not quite the magic bullet that the mental health professional community makes it out to be. Medication will take a person to a baseline level or maybe a little bit beyond and from there, it is up to the person to take over. This is where I struggle the most because my baseline level of functioning is still nominally depressed so I still lack the motivation to do things that I even enjoy doing, the stuff that I do not want to do notwithstanding. Therein lies the challenge because how do I get better when my brain is still fighting me. This is where I need to fight back and force myself to do what my brain is telling me that I do not want to do.
Last night my brain was absolutely convinced that all it wanted me to do was to just sit on the couch in a pair of exercise shorts and a teeshirt and watch movies on TV. I had a virtual video game night scheduled for 7:30 and I was running through every excuse in the book despite the visceral notion that it will be fun, lighthearted, and require no effort whatsoever. In the end, I had to force myself to sign into Zoom and wait for my friends to show up so that all 6 of us could play Among Us, a kind of a Clue-like game based in outer space. Inevitably the hardest part of the affair was simply showing up and naturally, it turned out to be a lot of fun. And so I am reminded again that I must take over from where the medication leaves off.
I accidentally discovered that the fight is easier when I allow myself less time to ruminate over the activity, instead of simply engaging in the activity without thinking about doing it. So now when there are activities that I want, need, or should do, I am going to try just performing the activity without thinking about how the activity might feel. I am reminded that people like me who are members of the mental illness community cannot always rely on the accuracy of feelings, hence why I almost passed up a light, fun activity because my brain was telling me that I did not feel like doing it.
One thing I truly wish that the pharmaceutical companies and the mental health professional community would start doing is seeking a cure for depression and mental illness because symptom management is not always a pleasant way to live. Symptom management can nominally be considered combatting depression to the person afflicted with it. Since medication is only working so well, perhaps instead of simply tweaking the medicine formularies, the pharmaceutical industry should spend some time looking for groundbreaking new ways to bring a person to above their baseline to make recovery more practical and faster. Perhaps the industry needs to start searching in earnest for a way to cure somebody, instead of simply managing their symptoms. The pharmaceutical company that finds a cure for depression will turn into a trillion-dollar plus company.
Until such a time when there is an interest in the development of a groundbreaking new medication for depression, sadly many people like myself are forced into simply mitigating its symptoms and seeking solace in our fellow community members. There are days like today where I feel I am destined to live on the fringes of society for the remainder of my life. I am just slightly over middle aged for my family’s lineage. Our average is only about 80 years so I have about 36 remaining. They look rather bleak as I probably will be in poverty for the remainder of them because I do not function as well as society would like.