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Author Topic: Depression  (Read 9868 times)

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Offline Joe K

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Depression
« on: October 06, 2008, 06:24:40 PM »
Depression: one of the most dreaded words in the English language.  The word even sounds dismal and that pretty well sums up the effects of depression.  Severe depression, often called clinical depression is a psychological disease that often goes undetected when it appears in conjunction with HIV infection.  (For the sake of discussion, I will simply refer to the disease as depression.)  Too often, depression can be present, but attributed to feelings surrounding HIV infection and can be excluded as a valid disease, in addition to the HIV infection.  I believe it is a vastly under-diagnosed illness and its treatment, is often seen as being more complicated that it has to be.  I have suffered from some form of depression for the past 40 years: I receive Social Security Income, not due to my HIV infection, but because I have clinical depression.

Depression can devastate your life, if left untreated.  My hope is that is you see yourself here, you will consider a mental health evaluation.  Depression is just that, depression.  It is not being unhappy because you do not have a Porsche or did not win the lottery, as being unhappy is fleeting and soon forgotten.  Depression hangs above you as a sword of Damocles, shrouding your existence in feelings of hopelessness and futility.  If left untreated, it can drain the very essence from your being.  It can be forever present, seldom witnessed; yet its effect remains unmistakable.

There are numerous signs of possible depression, and in the interest of clarifying what depression is/is not, I present a list of the most common signs of depression.

You feel miserable and sad.

You feel exhausted a lot of the time with no energy.

You feel as if even the smallest tasks are sometimes impossible.

You seldom enjoy the things that you used to enjoy, you may be off sex or food or may ‘comfort eat’ to excess.

You feel very anxious sometimes

You do not want to see people or are scared when left alone.  Social activity may feel hard or impossible.

You find it difficult to think clearly.

You feel like a failure and/or feel guilty a lot of the time.

You feel a burden to others.

You sometimes feel that life is not worth living.

You can see no future.  There is a loss of hope.  You feel all you have ever done is make mistakes and that is all you will ever do.

You feel irritable or angry more than usual.

You feel you have no confidence.

You spend a lot of time thinking about what has gone wrong, what will go wrong or what is wrong about yourself as a person.  You may also feel guilty sometimes about being critical of others.

You feel that life is unfair.

You have difficulty sleeping or wake up very early in the morning and cannot sleep again.  You seem to dream all night long and sometimes have disturbing dreams.

You feel that life has/is ‘passing you by.’

You may have physical aches and pains, which appear to have no physical cause, such as back pain.

Using the signs above, they can be combined, into symptoms, that can represent clinical depression.  If you have any of the following symptoms, generally five (or more), that have been present during the same 2-week period and represents a change from previous functioning, you may have clinical depression.

Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by feeling sad or empty or as an observation make by others (e.g. appears fearful).

Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by subjective report or observation made by others).

Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.

Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day

Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or feeling slowed down.

Feeling or worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).

Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).

Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

If you have depression, you will probably not experience all of the above signs, but will generally manifest at least half of them.  They will usually persist for at least 2 weeks and may increase in intensity.  I also include this list as education for others, because the effects of depression are far reaching and actually seem to be clearer when presented in a clinical fashion.  Unfortunately the complexity of depression is what I think is the most insidious aspect of depression.  It is so damn hard to describe to others, what you are experiencing, without sounding insane, even to yourself.  How do you tell someone that you can go from loving life, to suicidal thoughts and back again within a four-hour period?  Does that sound crazy to you?  It does to me and I live it.  However, I suspect, if you suffer from depression, what I have written might make perfect sense.

So let me take you on a voyage through depression.  The only reason I can describe this cycle, is that right now, I am on the outside looking back in.  When mired in depression, I do not have much perception of anything, nor can I see issues clearly.  The world looks bleak, there seems little hope and what I want many times, is for it to simply go away.  There are times, when the darkness becomes so black, that I have considered another existence.  I have wondered if maybe death may not be so bad after all.  But then again, I often do not really care because often, I simply cannot.

It is like hypnosis, or as if you are being controlled by a puppet master.  It can be quite surreal and the mood swings, within the same minute, hour or day, can be as wild as you can imagine.  I have gone from happily married to divorce, in a matter of a few hours, on those days when the wiring just does not connect.  It is all I can do to hold myself together, until the disconnect passes.  I feel like I am witnessing a train wreck in progress, yet powerless to do anything about it.  I often wonder if my actions expose my emotions, but since everything remains surreal, cognitive analysis is generally impossible.  I know I feel funny, but I am unable to change those feelings, until they melt away on their own.  At least I think I feel funny, but I cannot always tell, because it also affects my perception of things and causes me to doubt my own abilities.

At the peak of my depression, I am wavering between reality and the realm of depression.  When I can hold back the depression, my life continues, challenges intact, but continues nonetheless.  When I am depressed, it is like looking through a portal.  I can still see my life, on the other side, but I am powerless to return, nor do I care to and that lack of caring or desire is ultimately, what depression takes from you.  It is not that you are simply unhappy, because you are not anything.  You do not even feel sad or depressed, rather you really do not feel anything.  You begin to doubt your own sensibilities and often wonder just which way is up.  Actually, I do not even know if any of this makes sense, but how do you describe the indescribable?

So now, take these periods of depression and try to formulate both a treatment plan for your depression and a health care plan for your HIV.  Try to figure out how to take care of yourself, when you do not care about much of anything.  Somehow, you must find a way to compel yourself forward, but the amount of energy required always seems to be of inverse proportion, to what you want to accomplish.  Just going to a doctor appointment, can wipe you out for three days.  Add to that, your total lack of interest in anything, including food, your meds, exercise, etc. and you can be looking at some serious down time.  In addition, you cannot just snap out of it, so do not ever be so asinine as to suggest that to anyone who suffers from depression.  Do you really think anyone would want depression?

Treating depression can be serious business and often requires a multiple approach including medications and therapy.  The hard part though is identifying when you have depression, because when you have it, it does not just mean you are unhappy and you do not develop it over night.  The best advice I can offer, is you should consider a mental health checkup if you notice a drastic change in your life, due to increasing indifference.  I know it sounds like an oxymoron; seek help at the point where you have no interest in anything and be aware of that indifference, but it is the best I can offer.  (This is the time, when your good friends’ or partner, seeing you in these words, gently prods you to consider that you might be suffering from depression).

Also know, that you can maintain a wonderful life, assuming you diagnose and treat your depression.  You need to see depression for what it is: a disease.  Fortunately, it is a disease that can be treated successfully, often quite easily; however, there are cases that require more intense treatment.  Medication can play an important part in treating depression, but some of the antidepressants can take from 2-3 weeks to be effective and you just have to tough out that initial wait.  In addition, on average, many people must go through up to six drugs before finding one that works for them.  So if you are going to consider medications, please seek the guidance of a good psychiatrist in prescribing those medications, as most ID doctors are not that good at treating depression.  However, do not forget to review the drug recommendations with your ID doctor, because psychiatrists are usually not very familiar with all the possible reactions that antidepressants may have with HIV medications.

Therapy can also be an important form of treatment, but can present its own set of challenges.  Assuming you find a good fit in a therapist, there is always the background work that you need to do, to bring them up to speed and for some of us, talking about private, intimate details can be a formidable challenge.  However, therapy remains one of the few things in life, where you will only get out of it, what you put into it.  It is not a test, there is no right or wrong answers, nor is there any shame in admitting you need some help with your mental health.  Therapy also does not need to last forever.  We possess more than one form of health, so consider mental health treatment and a therapist to be no different from your HIV infection and your ID doctor.

Through my experience with depression, I have developed many tools that help me move through the dark times.  Some are very simple, such as diverting my attention, or getting some exercise.  Often a power-nap will clear the cobwebs or just remaining quiet for a period.  Others can be difficult and take some time, but the goal is always to identify signs of your depression and work on the issues that may be contributing to them.  A favorite tool of mine, is asking myself “what is the worst that can happen?”, when I become especially anxious.  Generally, when I answer that question and process the meaning, the anxiety will diminish.  Whether or not these techniques would work for you, does not matter so much, as you realizing that you can develop tools to help you in treating your own depression.

Treating depression may not be easy, quick, and often not for the faint of heart.  However, in the end, you have no choice, but to treat it and for one simple reason.  At some point in your treatment, maybe after months of trying some antidepressants, or months of therapy, or both, you will wake up one morning and you will notice a marked change.  Part of your being will once again emerge, from your depression and you will regain some of your interests and desires.  Each day, those feelings will increase and as you regain your life, your essence will return.  You will remember all the things you need to do, which in itself is amazing, but you will also have the desire to complete those tasks.  Everything that you love and enjoy, or hate and despise will return.  You will slowly return to your own reality.

For the first time, in a very long time, you will be able to look back and see not only where you were, but also how far you have come.  You will have stepped out of your depression and returned to your previous existence.  When you reach that moment, you will understand how important both the necessity of and the journey itself truly are and the fruit of that labor, will be very sweet indeed.

Too many of us live under the cloud of depression and that is not necessary.  I have decided to tell my story, because I know the damage that depression can do and all I ask is that if you see yourself in my words, that you consider a mental health checkup.  Depression is an illness and nothing more.  You do not deserve it, nor did you do anything wrong.  You do not have to swallow your pride to receive effective treatment, nor must you remain in the darkness.

Offline BT65

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Re: Depression
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2008, 06:10:00 PM »
Hey Joe,

Thank you for this very thoughtful post.  I have struggled with depression for many years; sometimes better, sometimes not. 

Right now it's doing better through, what you suggested and what has always worked for me, medication and therapy. 

You're right, people do not have to suffer in silence.  There is hope. 
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline heartforyou

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Re: Depression
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2008, 04:41:13 PM »
Quote
You do not even feel sad or depressed, rather you really do not feel anything.

That sounds soooooooo familiar.

I have suffered form depression from the age of 13.... so, I know and understand what you are talking about Joe.
Right now I have emerged from another episode of depression... and as always, I wonder why I wasn't able to drag myself out of it any sooner... but yet I did, for the time being.

Maybe the other existence, that I so often contemplated, will finally relieved me of my suffering, who knows...

Good luck to all co-sufferers.

Hermie
Diagnosed in 1987 and still kicking
Viread, Kivexa (Epzicom),Viramune once daily

Happiness is the freedom of breathing fresh air every day.

Offline Texan38

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Re: Depression
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2008, 05:14:38 PM »
Joe,

Your thread is powerful, informative, touching and soothing...all at the same time.

Thank you so much.
In Hollywood an equitable divorce settlement means each party getting fifty per cent of publicity.
~ Lauren Bacall

Offline denb45

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Re: Depression
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2008, 05:57:28 PM »
I don't do depression.....I was on Prozac exfexor and several other types of anti-depressions, but, I was mis-diagnosed and later found out after 2 yrs. ( back in 1998)  that I wasn't depressed at all........what I do have is THIS:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml

and was on Adavan for yrs. I'm still on it as P.R.N (as needed) they think it has something to with my military service ( I'm a Vet) and what I use to do for a living ( I was a Deputy sheriff for 15 yrs.) it happens when I hear a helicopter or a siren, our a firearm being shoot, those are the triggers that set-me-off, and when it happens my whole body just shuts down............this almost rarely happens that much anymore, and I'm glad it's under control  ;D it's hard to explain this feeling, it feels like the walls are closing in on me, are if I'm outside, the world is gonna swallow me up in some black hole somewhere never to return, then I feel like I'm gonna have a Massive Heart Attack, and I cannot breath, and I'm gonna die before I even get to the ER  ??? NOT a good feeling at all..........I understand that NONE of theses feelings are REAL, but, they sure-as-hell feel like they are, at least in my mind, they are very REAL
while this is happening to me, but after 10 yrs. I'm a lot better now  ;D
« Last Edit: October 20, 2008, 06:15:23 PM by denb45 »
"it's so nice to be insane, cause no-one ask you to explain" Helen Reddy cc 1974

Offline Joe K

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Re: Depression
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2008, 06:44:41 PM »
Hey All,

Betty, glad to hear you found a successful therapy.  Granted, it is always a balancing act, but what option do we really have.

Dear Hermie, I know you share the demons of depression, as I have been following your posts.  It is good to see you doing well.

Texan, that is exactly the effect I was going for, thank you.

And Den, I do not share your belief that feelings are not real, otherwise, how can you experience symptoms of a panic attack, if feelings have no physical affect?  I have had a couple of panic attacks and the last one, when I was sure I was dying, took almost three hours to bring under control.  I know many people who suffer from some form of panic attacks and their feelings and physical symptoms, are very real.  I would hope you might reconsider discounting those feelings and use them instead to forewarn of a potential attack.

Offline denb45

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Re: Depression
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2008, 09:31:07 PM »


And Den, I do not share your belief that feelings are not real, otherwise, how can you experience symptoms of a panic attack, if feelings have no physical affect?  I have had a couple of panic attacks and the last one, when I was sure I was dying, took almost three hours to bring under control.  I know many people who suffer from some form of panic attacks and their feelings and physical symptoms, are very real.  I would hope you might reconsider discounting those feelings and use them instead to forewarn of a potential attack.

When I said they were not real.......what I meant was most medical doctors didn't find any thing really wrong with me, after examination, (it's all in your head) is what they told me, it's not really happening to you, claim down and take your meds, and you'll feel a lot better.but in fact everything that was going on WAS VERY REAL TO ME, doctors couldn't find any logic to what I was inexperiencing at the time....that's why I was mis-diagnosed with depression instead of PTSD......and that just gos to show you and everyone here that doctors do not know everything like they think they do, I did however seek a second opinion, and found, that I was NOT DEPRESSED at all, and didn't need anti-depressants  :o
a GM doctor put me on anti-depressants, but a Psychiatrist took me off of them ( said I should have NEVER been put on anti-depressants) .........big difference it made, and how I dealt with it ,and how I feel now 10 yrs. later  ;D I'm glad I sleeked out that 2nd opinion, if I didn't I don't think I'd be around
today doing well and talking about any of this  :D
« Last Edit: October 20, 2008, 10:04:28 PM by denb45 »
"it's so nice to be insane, cause no-one ask you to explain" Helen Reddy cc 1974

Offline Joe K

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Re: Depression
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2008, 10:29:41 PM »
You bring up an excellent point, in that many doctors just dismiss mental health issues and you have illustrated why a second opinion can be so beneficial.  I share your frustration with this aspect of care, because my doctors would not believe me, for almost five years, that there was something seriously wrong with me.  It also stresses why we have to stay on top of our doctors and follow our own ideas, on the types of treatment that we may need.

Offline denb45

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Re: Depression
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2008, 10:41:07 PM »
You bring up an excellent point, in that many doctors just dismiss mental health issues and you have illustrated why a second opinion can be so beneficial.  I share your frustration with this aspect of care, because my doctors would not believe me, for almost five years, that there was something seriously wrong with me.  It also stresses why we have to stay on top of our doctors and follow our own ideas, on the types of treatment that we may need.

I had a lot of dismissive Doctors, but, thats the way are health care system is today..........what a mess it is, but, you also bring up a very interesting point, you cannot be dismissive about you own metal health issues
 thats why many people die in it ,and some NEVER get pulled outta the brink of it, it's a real shame too.....
"it's so nice to be insane, cause no-one ask you to explain" Helen Reddy cc 1974

Offline joemutt

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Re: Depression
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2008, 03:00:10 AM »
Killfoile, thanks for that posting. I was diagnosed with chronical depression the week of my hiv diagnosis.
I was 37 then but I can trace it back to early teens as well.I can also see it in my siblings and grandparents.
Meds are important but so is getting insight into it. Did anyone ever read the Noonday Demon, an encyclopedia of depression,  by Andrew Solomon, that was so significant to me.
For me support (such as your posting) of family and friends, diet, exercise, meditation, all
have been able to make the episodes shorter. And when I have the episodes I try to be understanding and compassionate with myself. Though sometimes it ain't easy and I don't like the meds.

Offline Graywolf

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Re: Depression
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2008, 06:57:33 AM »
Good subject which I have a long long relationship to. When I was a kid had nervous fidgety habits which my parents interpreted as being spiteful or demon possessed, I went through electroshock, tons of psych meds, and exorcism, miracle healers, was told i was demon possessed, etc.

When I was in my 20's was hospitalized for depression and crazy Viennese doctor told me that it was because i was a home, more electroshock, anti psychotic drugs (which I later found out in was far from psychotic), and was talking a lobotomy only way to cure my sin.

I finally found a therapist in 1978 (a defrocked Jesuit priest) who worked wonders with no drugs. When I look back my entire family suffered from severe depression.

I never had any friends, and do not to this day, so everything i have done I have gone it alone. Everyone tells me whata  great guy I am and are amazed I don't have an entourage of friends in tow, but I have always been alone.

My doctor has tried a dozen different antidepressants on me, all of which had very serious negative psychological side effects, in other words all of them either made me feel like a zombie or worsened the depression. When My doctor prescribed Chantix to quit smoking by the first week I slammed into a truly terrifying depression that took 5 months to crawl out of after stopping chantix after only 3 weeks taking it.

I never used recreational drugs since when I was in the Navy during the 60's (Nam) smoking pot had a horrible almost psychotic effect, same with the one time I tried acid and other psychedelics during the Name era.  Doctors have been puzzled as my brain chemistry is so much different than any other patient they have seen, although EEG's, brain MRI and cat scans all look normal

Until about 8 years ago I was a performace athlete, long distance swimmer, cyclist and hiker, but now due to degenerative spinal, nerve, muscle condition that still had docs puzzled I can barely walk to the end of my street, that used to be one of the best antidepressant drugs for me, now I can barely walk to the end of my street in a lot of pain.

My mind keeps circling the drain thinking 24x7 I am better off dead, but the old christian fear of hell keeps me here, or as I was told I am being punished, and not nearly enough for the heinous sin of homosexuality, plus all my other damnation deserving sins. Of course it's the end times, so God has washed his hands of sinners

MY therapist is dumbfounded claiming I am one of the most puzzling cases he's ever seen, he has never met anyone with no friends or family and so many conflicting unsolvable problems all at once.

personally I am in hell and have spat that back at bible thumpers who reply of yes but  tyhe hell that awaits you is billions, trillions, zillions of times worse for all eternity and we all deserve even worse than that because we have offended god. I've grown to really resent and hate this god so find no solace in religion.

I've totally lost interest in the things I loved, writing and blogging, music, movies, reading adn solf, given away or thrown out 90% of what I own. I've been looking around at disability housing and do not qualify for any programs since I make too much on disability plus have 2 retirement accounts, so when i reach abject poverty I may qualify but thter are 8-12 year waiting lists. I feel there is no way out adn deth being the only escape but am more afraid of dying than I am sick of living, maybe because I have never had the luxury of fully being alive. I \went through teh praying the sinners prayer, etc and anf only feel worse but was told until I am totally broken and come to god on bended knee begging forgiveness than my prayers will be curses to god.

I see the world as a cold, ruthless, self centered place filled with greed and nastiness. if that's not depression I dont know what is
"If we don't learn to live as brothers, we will perish as fools" - Dr martin Luther King Jr

Offline Graywolf

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Re: Depression
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2008, 07:05:46 AM »
I almost forgot, since my HIV diagnosis in 1985 this has just compounded everything, as if I were one of the select few who has been singled out for special punishment. Even  though I have been openly out since 1971, by thinking has become so tainted that i'm begining to believe people like falwell and phelps are true men of god. The rational side of me says this is revolting

Of course teh billionaires and neocons will all drive their gold plated liimos straight through the gates of heaven to their promised mansions
"If we don't learn to live as brothers, we will perish as fools" - Dr martin Luther King Jr

Offline heartforyou

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Re: Depression
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2008, 06:25:38 PM »
Graywolf,

Consider yourself loved by me..
Universal love does not have borders...

Hermie
Diagnosed in 1987 and still kicking
Viread, Kivexa (Epzicom),Viramune once daily

Happiness is the freedom of breathing fresh air every day.

Offline ga1964

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Re: Depression
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2008, 02:28:07 AM »
As I read your post I recognized so much of myself in your words.  It was like you knew the real me that I try to keep hidden from the world.  I have been on antidepressants for about two years and started seeing a therapist about two months ago.  When I go in to see her we talk about how I'm feeling and what kind of stressors I've been under since my last session and as much as I want to say all the things you have written here,  I can't seem to let go and let it out.  I don't know if its because of a trust issue I developed when I seeing a therapist as a child after my parents divorce or if its because I have control and abandonment issues.  

The more I read, the more I believe that I have been suffering from depression a lot longer than I thought and never looked for help because I felt I had to stay in control and that letting some one into the darkness I feel would eventually come back to haunt me later.  I've never been one to feel sorry for myself because I did not have the advantages that a lot of my peers had, I just worked hard to get what I wanted and had a lot of pride knowing that I did it on my own.  Looking back, I probably started falling into depression about eight years ago when my partner and I were going thru a rough period.  He lost both of his parents, one of which he quit working to take care of for the last three years of her life.  Through all of this we stopped communicating a lot and when we did, I did not want to burden him with my feelings of inadequacies.  If I had a tough day, I would lie and say it was OK.  Even when I had a major falling out with my Mother, I would keep all the hurt bottled in side, so as not to add more to his plate.  

In the years leading up to being diagnose HIV+, I went a long time hating how my life seemed to be spiralling out of control, and having no one to discuss it with,  I have never been comfortable expressing my feelings very much, and I'm working on that issue.  I have been burned in the past by so called "friends", and I have a hard time trusting people.  I feel like everybody is out to kick me when I'm down, so I try my best to hide my when I'm hurting.  

Sorry, I did not mean to write so much, but it just hit so close to home for me.  If you don't mind I'd like to show your post  to my therapist the next time I see her.  May be it can help her understand what I can't seem to express on my own.

Good luck in your battle with depression and know that I have been helped by your post in starting to understand the feelings I have been going thru.

God bless.  

Offline AndyArrow

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Re: Depression
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2008, 03:34:46 AM »
As I read your post I recognized so much of myself in your words.  It was like you knew the real me that I try to keep hidden from the world.  

That sentence rings amazingly true for me.  After living my life with a "best face forward" approach, as I really feel dark and numb, I find it incredibly difficult to open up in therapy.  I'm always greeting my therapist with a smile and trying to a positive spin on things.  I think therapy would go better if I had truth serum rather than an anti-depressant.

And to Graywolf I'm sorry for all that you had to suffer and I know it may not mean much, but as Hermie said you are loved here.

AA
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Offline Bizmark33

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Re: Depression
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2008, 01:42:43 PM »
I, too, recognize myself in this post. Not sure exactly what to do about it, or how to get out of this "funk" I am in, but I sure am not enjoying being awake much anymore. It is a struggle daily. I am not normally lazy, either....I did so well this summer, exercising every day, and ate really well, lost 25 pounds, and got in good shape.....then....bam.....like a brick wall, things started crumbling down around me. First one thing, then another. More and more bad news kept piling up on me, and I just couldn't take it, and I have been ignoring it for a couple months now. I don't know what to do. I think I need help, but nobody to help me. When I am good, I am great, but right now.....I feel worthless.

Offline ga1964

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Re: Depression
« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2008, 04:53:02 PM »
I saw my therapist today and took her a copy of this post.  After reading the original post and my reply we had long discusion about what I had written.  It was the first time that I left her office feeling like we had made some headway.  I found that I had been keeping her at arms length and not really opening up to her as much as I should.  She said that it was normal since I have only been seeing her for such a short time, but we now have something to move forward from.

Thank you again for starting this thread.  It was what I needed to be able to express my feelings and create an avenue for her to know how to get me to open up.  For the first time in a long time that I felt like I might be able to get a hold on things and possibly be able to remove the depression from my life.

Offline Ann

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Re: Depression
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2008, 08:04:54 PM »
ga,

Congratulations. It can be so difficult to open up. That's one of the amazing things about this website - we can help others without even knowing it. I hope you can keep working closely with your therapist. You're worth it. Hang in there and good luck. And keep reaching out here.

And thank you, Joe. Just.... thank you.  :-* I look forward to meeting you in person some day and yes, if I have anything to do with it, it will happen. Love you.

Ann
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Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: Depression
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2008, 08:24:54 PM »
ga -- have you tried writing a daily journal and then taking it in to your therapist and allowing him/her to read it and discussing things taken from it?  This might help you in your sessions -- sometimes people close themselves off partially from the process of being on the spot in front of someone in an office until they get used to that process.
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Offline Joe K

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Re: Depression
« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2008, 04:42:45 PM »
Your responses have been incredible and that is part of why I wrote this piece.  For far too long, mental health has remained the domain of the insane.  For centuries, people believed that you could control yourself, in all aspects of life, and failing to do so, somehow constituted a failure on your part.  As I was growing up, people with mental health problems, were referred to as confused or even worse, shiftless and lazy.  In fact, when I started to see a therapist, in the late 70s, my mother cautioned me against mentioning this, to any family members, lest they think I am crazy.  My family actually believed this barbaric notion that mental disease was a reflection, into the soul of the sufferer.

Mental Illness was abhorrent and promoted unnatural behaviour, thereby providing a convenient catchall for anything deemed abnormal.  What a great place to drop all the malcontents of society, say minorities, pozzies and LGBTs.  Not only did mental illness explain such behaviours, it also laid the blame, squarely at the feet of the victims.  With those types of attitudes, does it really amaze anyone that we produced an entire generation of humankind, forced to live in the darkness, in every aspect that contributes to a quality of life.

For many of us, we never had the chance to come out into the light, because attaining that light, under the weight of societal disapproval, was impossible.  We have a generation, in which many of us are confused and conflicted, with nowhere to turn and only lately, has society begun to extend a helping hand.  If we are not careful, history will dictate our actions, based on the outmoded views of the past.  As I read some of your replies, I can feel the shame in your admission of having a mental health defect.  Yes, I said defect, because I know many of you believe this and that is the primary reason that you find it so hard to open up and let your true feelings be known.  I lived through the horror of addressing my masculinity, as juxtaposed against what it was, to be a man.  I understand the feelings that somehow we are even more broken, than others are.

Graywolf, you leave me at a loss for words.  My heart aches as I read your comments and most maddening to me, is that I have nothing to offer you, except my empathy and understanding.  I refuse to share any views where being gay or poz is worthy of some divine retribution and it took me decades, to undo the damage of a religious upbringing.  I will never accept the idea, that a God with the power to create reality would waste their time, tormenting their creations.

Ga, your words described my life, for the first twenty years.  I am an orphan, then adopted by parents that viewed both being gay and positive as intolerable.  Talk about abandonment and trust issues, I have them in droves.  I empathize with your views, but let me suggest another possibility.  Trust issues are very hard to address, but without trust, you will never truly open up and let another person in.  I once thought walls were to keep others out, when in reality they are there, to encourage someone, who cares enough, to tear them down to get to you.  Your therapist does not judge what you say; rather they try to understand your issues, using your own words, as that is the only source they have. 

You are diminishing the effects of your therapy, because you fear what your therapist may think of you and in doing so, you are missing the heart of effective therapy.  True therapy never seeks to judge, rather it seeks to explain the feeling that we experience.  If you are unwilling to lay an honest foundation, regarding your issues, then what do you really have to build upon?

Andy, how sad that you seem resigned, to living a life that you describe as dark and numb, surely you do not believe that this is all there is to life.  I once shared your challenge in opening up in therapy, but I never made any progress until I let it all out.  I cannot describe the relief that I received as I faced my demons, head on, for the first time in my life.  I reject the idea of putting a best face forward, when that is not how you feel.  However, what I do not understand, is that you know you feel uncomfortable with certain feelings, but are too afraid to face them directly.  What exactly are you afraid of happening?  I am deadly serious, what do you believe is the worst that can happen, by being open with your therapist?  My guess is, if you can answer that question, you will have won half the battle.

Biz, sorry to hear about your funk, but try and see, how, in your very own words, you minimize both your mental health and self worth.  The word lazy has no place in discussing most mental health issues, because it denotes a failure in the afflicted.  Lazy is when you miss dinner, because you are unwilling to get up and make something to eat.  Lazy, in terms of depression, does not exist, because, when depressed, you rarely get hungry.  Might I suggest that you start to redefine how you see yourself and the world around you?  You describe some of your challenges as “bad news”, when they are not good, nor bad, just unfortunate.  Do you see how our perceptions and upbringing can provide such a distorted view of ourselves?  You are obviously suffering from some form of mental illness, yet you describe yourself as worthless.  You, my friend, are missing the point entirely.

It is time for you to stop playing the victim and for you to take control of your life.  If you had a broken leg, you would have it mended, to repair the damage.  Same thing with mental health, for whatever reason, your brain is not functioning normally right now and only you can fix it.  Only you can decide that you are tired of the darkness and I urge you, not to wait, until the darkness becomes all-encompassing.  I urge you to consider your mental health, to be as precious as it can be.  If you insist on viewing yourself as a victim and helpless at that, you risk losing everything that makes us human.  I know this is incredibly hard for you, but please, find someone who can help you, before you start to believe that there is nothing worth living for, in life.  Surely, you deserve better.

Ann, I love you and I believe that one day, our paths will cross and what a week that will be.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2008, 04:46:19 PM by killfoile »

Offline ga1964

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Re: Depression
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2008, 02:51:15 AM »
Ann,
Thanks for the support and encouragement.  I will continue to work with my therapist and try to be as open as I can, but  somethings are easier to talk about anonymously behind a computer screen, at least at this point for me.  I don't know if its my trust issues or what, but I would like to get to a place where I felt comfortable in my own skin and be able to say "World. This is me and if you don't like it, its your problem."   I admire people like Olympic Diver Greg Louganis, and Pedro from the Real World show and all the other people on any Bravo Channel Show that are HIV+ and does not let it stop them from chasing their dreams and not care who knows they are HIV+, but living in a small Southern town in the heart of the bible belt, I don't ever see myself in that position.  Even my I.D. told me not to tell anyone other than family.

Philly267,
Thanks for the suggestion, I have never kept a journal, but I will give it a try.  Showing my therapist the previous post made it easier to let her in.  It was down in black and white and she was able to ask me things that I probably would not have opened up about, or try to spin it in a way like its not bothering me as much as it really is.

Killfoile,
Once again, Thank you so much for starting this thread, it has helped me more that you can know.  I will take your advice and try to put it to work so that maybe one day I can feel free and leave the cage I feel I'm in behind.  I truly want to get back to smiling because I love life instead of smiling to hide and mask the numbness that I presently feel.  I would like to believe that there are many wonderfull experiences that are still to come in my life and I want to be able to enjoy those moments, instead of feeling like that best parts of my life has come and gone and how long will I endure existing till death comes knocking.  I want to have a life, not just exist as the world goes by.

I feel like I hi-jacked your thread, and I apologize if I did, but your initial post grabbed me at my core, that someone else out there was feeling what I felt and was able to put it into words that I could not say myself.

Offline Joe K

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Re: Depression
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2008, 10:39:01 AM »
Ga,

No worries, you have not hijacked this thread, because I wrote it especially, for people like you and me.  My goal here was to help you understand the components of depression, the signs to look for and some suggestions on treating depression.  Please feel free to use this thread to discuss your mental health issues, as I can see your attitude has already started to change... and that is more than I could have hoped for.

Offline Bizmark33

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Re: Depression
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2008, 09:55:09 PM »
     Well, I didn't say I AM worthless, I just said I felt that way. I see your point though. Well taken. Very well put in your post. I'll have to try to print this off, and re-read it from time to time. It's good stuff.
     Your right, I MAY in fact be suffering from something, but, like I said, I was fine, until.....well, I feel like in some ways it's circumstantial. Then again, it may be how I hadled the unfortate circumstances, I dunno. Thing is, I need to get my head out of my ass, and I know it. I have barely been treading water, doing just enough to get by, and that is not like me, not at all. I thank you for your words though, they put things in perspective.
~BriaN

Offline ga1964

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Re: Depression
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2008, 11:38:30 PM »
Thanks Killfoile,  Know that your post has at least helped me and hopefully others that might stumble across it.  I had been seeing my therapist once every other week, but she wants to see me Monday.  I don't know if she saw a base to start building on or what but I will keep posting here and look forward to your input.

 
     I have barely been treading water, doing just enough to get by, and that is not like me, not at all. I thank you for your words though, they put things in perspective.
~BriaN

Brian, 
I know what you mean about "Barely treading water just enough to get by."  I have been living the same way since my diagnosis, which is rapidly approaching 2 years.  (Nov. 30th)  I used to be motivated to things and now I have all this stuff to do projects but can't get motivated to do them.  I have been trying to hang some pictures for the last month.  I tell myself I'm going to do it on the weekend and when Sat. comes I can't seem to drum up the energy to get it done.

I hope things get better for you.   

Offline furrbie34

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Re: Depression
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2008, 03:33:50 AM »
i have lived my life like most "in the closet"....i did what others wanted me to do...get married....etc.  i even fathered a child " a lovely daughter" that i would not trade for anything.   my abusive sperm doner" father" left us early on in my childhood and really left me wondering what was out there for me.  i think  i have been depressed since i was about 8 yrs old or so.  any how....in later life.....as it got worse as i was trying to hide my true self,    i was "gay bashed" in a public park.    my throat was slit wide open, my back was cut almost 2 feet down my spine, my arm was stabbed, and i dis located my shoulder trying to defend myslef.    somehow i got up and drove myself to the ER. 
that all happened in 1995 and i probably should have gotten help but i did not. 
now that i am out of the closet and now living with HIV the bad thoughts usually rule my mind. 
but, at this point in life, i am just grateful for everyday that the sun rises.  my thoughts and hopes are with all of you who are experiencing rough times.  even though it's tough, try to look for the positive things in life besides the HIV+

Offline maddalfred

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Re: Depression
« Reply #25 on: November 19, 2008, 07:02:27 PM »
I see so much of myself in this thread that it is uncanny, yet not surprising. Long before my diagnosis this past May with HIV and Hep C I have suffered through horrible periods of self loathing and fear brought on by this depression thing. I can easily remember being a child and knowing enough about being depressed to just not being able to name it.

Since my last partner of 16+ years passed away almost two years ago now, it has taken on a feverish pitch. I have the face I put on at the door every morning that becomes increasing heavier as each day drags to a close, I cannot wait to return to my little apartment, such as it is so I can take off the face, hoping to see no one, hoping to sleep a whole night at some point without taking one pill or another. The livid dreams brought on by the Atripla have actually only increased the fear and hopelessness as well as the pure pointlessness of my existence and I struggle on, only hoping to find that certain someone who will give me the answers I so desperately need to know. If not for that, the bottle of sleeping pills would have served as my last meal many months ago.

Now here I sit, on the edge of fifty years old, no real friends, no family that claim me or I them, everything my mate and I built together lost to his greedy family and no answers in sight. Where does it end? Am I such a horrible person or have I led such a horrible life that the gods take great joy in seeing just how much of this torture I can bear before I finally snap for the final time?

Finally, a post, a thread of posts to make me feel just a wee bit better in that I am not completely alone and totally crazy, locked inside my tortured mind. How fucked up can I be to take any pleasure in knowing others suffer the same type of mental shit I do??
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Offline BT65

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Re: Depression
« Reply #26 on: November 19, 2008, 09:21:19 PM »
Mad, it always helps to know we're not alone in how we feel.  It's not at all that we take pleasure in knowing others have the same pain; it's knowing that we've not totally lost it, and that someone can understand and offer us suggestions as to how they got through it.

I would talk to your doctor about the side effects you're experiencing with Atripla.  I'm not you, and I'm no doctor, but it might be time to switch.  I did (from Sustiva, which is the med in Atripla causing you troubling psychological effects).
  Luv,
Betty
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Offline maddalfred

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Re: Depression
« Reply #27 on: November 21, 2008, 07:35:36 AM »
Depression: one of the most dreaded words in the English language.  The word even sounds dismal and that pretty well sums up the effects of depression.  Severe depression, often called clinical depression is a psychological disease that often goes undetected when it appears in conjunction with HIV infection.  (For the sake of discussion, I will simply refer to the disease as depression.)  Too often, depression can be present, but attributed to feelings surrounding HIV infection and can be excluded as a valid disease, in addition to the HIV infection.  I believe it is a vastly under-diagnosed illness and its treatment, is often seen as being more complicated that it has to be.  I have suffered from some form of depression for the past 40 years: I receive Social Security Income, not due to my HIV infection, but because I have clinical depression.


I apologize if it seemed I hijacked your thread. I am new around here and still trying to figure out the etiquette thing. I do appreciate the time and thought that went into your post, you make a lot of very good points. Good on ya.

Rex
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Offline ga1964

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Re: Depression
« Reply #28 on: November 24, 2008, 04:44:29 PM »

Since my last partner of 16+ years passed away almost two years ago now, it has taken on a feverish pitch. I have the face I put on at the door every morning that becomes increasing heavier as each day drags to a close, I cannot wait to return to my little apartment, such as it is so I can take off the face, hoping to see no one, hoping to sleep a whole night at some point without taking one pill or another. The livid dreams brought on by the Atripla have actually only increased the fear and hopelessness as well as the pure pointlessness of my existence and I struggle on, only hoping to find that certain someone who will give me the answers I so desperately need to know. If not for that, the bottle of sleeping pills would have served as my last meal many months ago.

Now here I sit, on the edge of fifty years old, no real friends, no family that claim me or I them, everything my mate and I built together lost to his greedy family and no answers in sight. Where does it end? Am I such a horrible person or have I led such a horrible life that the gods take great joy in seeing just how much of this torture I can bear before I finally snap for the final time?

Massalfred,

My heart hurts for you because I feel the exact same way.

I have not been able to describe the feelings exactly, but the analogy of putting on a face for the world in the morning.  It is exactly how I have felt for what has seemed like forever, but in reality has been for the last 10 years or so, long before being diagnosed coming up on 2 years, Thanksgiving.  (How ironic is that?)  Needless to say I have been getting more and more on edge the closer I get to Thanksgiving.

Sorry, got on a tangent.  My thoughts are bouncing around in my head so much, I have a hard time staying on track.

 I also can't wait for the day to end so I can take off the mask and just crash.  This past year I have had problems with sores taking forever to heal, and since I work in the public, I have been asked many times by clients what was wrong.  I had to come up with a lie on the spot, because I could not tell them I was HIV+.  I told them that I had disturbed an ant hill, and I was very allergic to them.  I hate having to lie to everybody all the time.  There are days I can't wait till it all over.  I won't have to get up and put on the mask anymore.  I won't have to make up lies.  I won't have to take all the damn pills.  I won't have to put up with the side effects of the pills.  I won't have to take more pills to try to neutralize the side effects. 

Sorry, another tangent.

I thank god for the support that I do get from my husband and what few family members I have that do know my status.  I know that should make it easier for me, but sometimes I still feel all alone.  I used to have plenty of friends long ago, but they have all disappeared over the last 5 years to the point that all I have are family and my husband.

I constantly hate myself for getting in this situation, not only for me, but also putting my husband here.  He does not deserve it.  I don't know why he stayed after my diagnosis. 

I hope you can find help some way, as I too am constantly trying to find who I am.

God bless.

Offline Rural_oz

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Re: Depression
« Reply #29 on: November 24, 2008, 05:22:05 PM »
I have just found this thread and sat reading everything posted.
I can remember since I was a small child crying for no reason. Years and years of having days and weeks where I would sit in dark rooms feeling worthless or wearing a mask of normality just so I could walk out the door.

It happened that on one of these occasions my sister (that I love dearly) happened to ring for a catch up (we live a long distance apart).  She innocently said I sounded unhappy and asked if I was OK?  The floodgates opened and I poured my heart out to her.  I tried as best as I could to describe the feeling of a "Black day".  To my surprise her response was "oh I have those, I just never talk to you about it." 
That was several years ago, since then we have both sought therapy and medication.  It made so much difference in my life to know that someone was walking in my shoes.

Here is a thread of people all walking the same path.  My thoughts, wishes and love go to all of you.  Who could ever have know that, far from being alone, we can be here for each other.  No-one is worthless, this is NOT something to be ashamed about and no-one deserves bad things.  Far from it, we all deserve nothing more than to live our lives in peace and happiness.

So where am I now?  I take medication every day.  I am more "level" (you know what I mean!  ;))
I have told my partner about the effects and what to expect if I have have a bad day. 
But most of all I know what is wrong. I know now that the day will pass, tomorrow will come, the tide will turn and I am strong enough to ride it out. 

Do whatever it takes to get you through the day, seek therapy if that helps. Take medication if that helps.  Cry in someones arms, if that helps.  Just don't try and do it alone.

Huge hugz to you all, and thank you for the help you have given me.

Offline bretticus

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Re: Depression
« Reply #30 on: November 28, 2008, 06:18:23 PM »
ok y'all. I need some help. I cut-out my sustiva because I thought it was causing or aggravating my depression. We substituted norvir and prezista along with truvada. My depression is worse. I don' see much about prezista or norvir in regard to depression but there is evidence that truvada association with depression. ARG! I have been at this fight since 1984 and the side effects from meds since 1997-ish. Whats the deal? Can any of us get a break? I feel so much better if i do not take anything and all of my counts are great. I know this is a short-sighted trap....but the shortsightedness of depression is also a trap. This bites!
BretticusMaximus

Offline maddalfred

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Re: Depression
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2008, 07:22:54 AM »
ok y'all. I need some help. I cut-out my sustiva because I thought it was causing or aggravating my depression. We substituted norvir and prezista along with truvada. My depression is worse. I don' see much about prezista or norvir in regard to depression but there is evidence that truvada association with depression. ARG! I have been at this fight since 1984 and the side effects from meds since 1997-ish. Whats the deal? Can any of us get a break? I feel so much better if i do not take anything and all of my counts are great. I know this is a short-sighted trap....but the shortsightedness of depression is also a trap. This bites!


Bret,

Even though this depression thing is a Mental Health issue, you might want to post or check out the Treatment and Side Effects forums as well. I do hear you, though. I myself have been severely depressed for so long it's hard to remember what it's like not to have that cloud hanging overhead now. As for the meds question, I just started Celexa and I haven't noticed any change yet after one week.

Rex
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Offline Joe K

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Re: Depression
« Reply #32 on: December 02, 2008, 02:02:18 PM »
Bret,

If you feel your depression is worsening, you should seek a psychiatrist to review any medications, that you take, especially because anti HIV drugs, can have an effect on some psychotic drugs.  However, they rarely have a pronounced affect on mood and that is why a psychiatrist would be very helpful.  I treat my depression both separately and as part of my overall health strategy.  I review my meds each year and I just finished seeing a psychiatrist, to review my meds and to coordinate my care, with my HIV specialist.

In a way, I find your response to be rather sad, as if you have simply accepted that you will always be depressed.  I urge you to reject those thoughts and treat your depression as aggressively as you treat your HIV.  It took me almost six years, to find a drug regime that controls my depression and the quality of life I now enjoy, was worth it.  You sound like you have been beaten down by depression and I suggest that that fact alone, should be enough for you to find a new drug strategy.

 


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