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Author Topic: Yet Another Depression Thread  (Read 3222 times)

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Offline Buckmark

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Yet Another Depression Thread
« on: March 07, 2007, 08:57:01 PM »

I've been going through an increasingly severe bout of depression since the end
of 2005.  Finally, about a month ago, I decided I had to see a therapist because
it was not improving, and medication was not helping (though my ID doc was
very willing to help me with anti-depressants).  The symptoms just seem to keep
getting worse and worse (sadness, anxiety, anger, lack of interest/motivation).

I feel I am relatively fortunate, in that I have a good job, and my health is in good
shape despite having HIV for 17 years.  I started meds just 3 years ago, and viral
load has been undetectable so far.  I see so many other folks' struggles with finances
and health that I know I should feel lucky.  But I don't.  That just makes me feel
even more down.

So after about 5 weeks of seeing a therapist, I realize that loneliness is a big part of
the issue.  It has always been difficult for me to connect with people, and form close
friendships, let alone intimate relationships.   I'm 42 and have only had 2 boyfriends in
my life.  I don't have any problem meeting people or being social, in groups larger or
small.  But I can rarely go beyond that and form a more personal connection.  In some
ways I feel like I never really learned how to be close to people, if that is something
that can even be learned.

Hopefully my therapist will be able to help me identify what is standing in my way. 
I'll be damned if I know what it is.  I'm not even sure if the problem is psychological
or physiological in nature.  So seeing a therapist seems like a good choice, although
I don't feel like I am making too much progress with him.  I'm not even sure how to
tell if a therapist is the right fit for me.  My ID doctor has also suggested that I perhaps
see a psychiatrist, as he has admittedly reached the extent of his knowledge on
medications.  But my health plan, while good in most respects, has pitifully few
psychiatrists, none of whom are anywhere near where I live.

This has all gotten so bad in the past 4 or 5 months that I've seriously considered
checking out.  But I'm sure I'm just too chicken to even attempt that.  I'm also
sure that my depression will continue to spiral downward if something doesn't change
soon.  This is difficult for me to post.  Reading back over it, all I can think to myself is that I
need to stop whining.  If that's all it took, however, this would all be resolved by now.

I suppose I am looking to see if any other folks have found themselves in this situation,
and what might have helped them.  I don't feel like what I've done so far has been
particularly effective.


"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline Basquo

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2007, 09:23:43 PM »
Henry, I am by no means trying to make light of this, but would it help if I tell everybody here that you're HOT??!!  I've met you in person, and you are very attractive, and I haven't persued anything further because I'm a smoker and I know that's something you're not looking for in a potential date (thinking about quitting, tho ;))

So, attractive as you are, I know you're serious from what I've just read, but are you looking for someone to fill a void? Would having someone special in your life help at all?  Only you know for sure, and it probably would be best  to have a professional confirm this, but if I can play matchmaker I'm willing to give it a go.

Granted, I'm close to many members of this forum, and you and I have never really done anything more than the causal "hi, how are you?" in person, but I think you're mere steps from meeting someone meaningful.

I'm glad you're seeing a therapist, and I don't want you to check out.  Breathing is a better option than not.

You said you bought an airline ticket to SF for AMG '07, and I expect to see you there!

Best, and Love,
« Last Edit: March 07, 2007, 09:25:55 PM by Basquo »

Offline Longislander

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2007, 10:09:37 PM »
Hi Henry,

I'm glad you decided to see a therapist. If you feel he's not the right one for you , find another one. I think I've always had a mild depression problem. I think about seeing a therapist, then decide not to or just forget about it.  I'm only enthused and really happy when I'm doing something I'm really passionate about. And that isn't many things~

I may be mistaken, but haven't you told us you don't date at all, and it's been a really long time? I just turned 43 and I've only had 2 BF's also. Talking all this out with a therapist should help you figure out why you stop short of a more personal relationship, be it friends of BF's.

I'm glad you didn't decide to check out! I'm looking forward to meeting you in SF!

infected 10/05 diagnosed 12-05
2/06   379/57000                    6/07 372/30500 25%   4/09 640/U/32% 
5/06   ?? /37000                     8/07 491/55000/24%    9/09 913/U/39%
8/06   349/9500 25%              11/07 515/68000/24     2/10 845/U/38%
9/06   507/16,000 30% !          2/08  516/116k/22%    7/10 906/80/39%
12/06 398/29000 26%             Start Atripla 3/08
3/07   402/80,000 29%            4/08  485/undet!/27
4/07   507/35,000 25%            7/08 625/UD/34%
                                                 11/08 684/U/36%

Offline Joe K

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2007, 10:43:34 PM »
Hey Henry,

I understand everything you have written, because like you, I suffer from depression as well.  To begin with, you need to understand that feelings just are, whether they be happy or sad, it is the behavior that you have to be concerned with.  From what you describe you are trying, but you seem to believe that somehow it is your fault that you have a mental illness, or that because you cannot find the cause, that you somehow deserve the feelings and emotions that are consuming you.  So stop that crap right now and understand that you have an illness of the mind and you need to treat that illness.  Having a mental illness is NOT a reflection on your character, nor your intellect, nor anything else EXCEPT the health of your mind.

I agree with your doc, you need to see a psychiatrist, if for no other reason, so they can help you identify a drug regime that may help you.  That seems to be the mistaken idea about depression, that therapy can just snap you out of it, but it does not work that way.  If you are depressed, your mind is not really conducive (due to a chemical imbalance) to therapy and so you probably need some drugs, to help restore the chemical balance in your brain, so that therapy can be effective.  If your mind is not receptive to the effects of therapy, no therapy in the world will do you any good, because you are not receptive to it.

So what I suggest, from decades of experience, is that you see a psychiatrist (isn't your mental health worth a drive?), get on some drugs and continue therapy.  Your whole goal here is to discover what your issues are and to find ways to address them.  There is no right or wrong way to treat mental illness as whatever works for you is what you need.

So now your pity party ends and you will get off your duff and start really working on these issues.  Henry, mental illness can be even more destructive than HIV and the sooner you face your reality and identify your issues, the closer you will be to a better quality of life.  Trust me, my friend, I have been where you are and I understand how difficult this can all be, but you can do it and if you need me, I will be here every step of the way.

You only get out of therapy, what you are willing to put into it.  If you find it difficult to be BRUTALLY HONEST with your therapist, then yes, you have the wrong therapist.  You also need to remember that therapists have heard it all and they are not there to judge you, but to help you identify your issues and assist you in finding ways of dealing with them.

Lastly, I want you to start showing yourself the compassion that you show to others.  You are not whining about a mental illness that truly impacts the quality of your life.  You whine about not winning the lottery, not your mental health.  So stop demeaning yourself just because you suffer from a mental illness and make the decision to fight this and then marshal all of your resources, including those here who care about you.

Be well my friend.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2007, 11:10:42 PM by killfoile »

Offline ScooterTrash

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2007, 11:21:11 PM »
You don't sound like you're whining at all Henry.
I have similar issues with the depression, and haven't quite found a way out of it myself so I can't really offer much in the way of advice. But what I can tell you is that the anti-depressants can take some time before they start working. It was six months for me before there was any difference. Just keep at it... I think we can find a way out of the grey...

Offline dtwpuck

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2007, 11:38:58 PM »

Why are we here except to help each other.  You are not whining.  And, I appreciate you posting about depression.

I think it's a good idea to go to a therapist, and even a psychiatrist if you feel the problem is physiological in nature. 

Loneliness is a terrible thing.  And when you are used to it, you don't realize how closely it touches your life.  It becomes your eminence grise, hanging out in each corner, always there but never quite noticed.   It may take you a while to find what you think is preventing you from reaching out and opening up to someone special.  But, I would have to echo Basquo in that you are indeed quite attractive, so your physical appearance would not be the problem! 

I have experienced severe depression in my life.  I never sought therapy, even though I could have.  As a result, it lasted far too long.  I saw my depression eventually as someone else besides me.  I was no longer who I wanted to be, and that person was rapidly getting lost in the dark night of the soul.  I found a way out for me, which took a lot of willpower, a few revelations and some brutal honesty with myself. 

Your way will be unique to you.  I don't know you well enough to tell you what it might be... but I can tell you that your kindness and compassionate postings lead me to believe that you have a depth of feeling that many would find not only attractive but compellingly so.

Best of luck to you... and the biggest, longest hug. 

Floating through the void in the caress of two giant pink lobsters named Esmerelda and Keith.

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2007, 03:19:56 AM »
Hi Henry
I'm sorry to hear you've been having such a tough time.

I do know what you mean about the spiral. I barely even noticed myself spiralling down last year, it happened so gradually. It was when my health started taking a knock that I realised something was very wrong.

Therapy is a very personal and individual thing. I have always refused anti-depressants. Just a personal choice. After my diagnosis I saw quite a few counsellors; some helped, some didn't. In the end I realised that I had actually been pretty much going round in circles for 4 years, talking about my feelings, venting now and then, but never actually doing anything significant enough to address or change what was bothering me.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is what worked for me. It is often used to treat people with phobias, depression and anxiety. The basis of CBT is realistic and positive thinking. Its a pretty intense and pragmatic therapy that was recommended to me by a counsellor friend and a consultant. It suited me down to the ground. It helped me address patterns I'd been following since my teens and it has given me the tools to deal with all kinds of situations as they surface. I only had 5 sessions; for me, that's all it took for my eyes to be opened to how I could make things better. Not even 2 months on now, I'm turning my life around.

Don't get me wrong, it's hard work. CBT only points a person in the right direction and gives them the tools to use. It's upto a person to actually choose to head in that direction and apply the tools provided. And it involves a lifestyle change, that demands everyday on-going practice.

I'm not saying it would work for everyone but it worked for me.

Hoping that today is a bit (if only ever so slightly) brighter for you than yesterday, Henry.

Warm thoughts
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline DanielMark

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2007, 06:53:52 AM »

Not sure what type of therapy you are involved in, but cognitive therapy (with a psychotherapist) works for me. Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, and in my case that is certainly true. It has helped me and continues to help me with many parts of living.

"Psychological treatment of depression (psychotherapy) can assist the depressed individual in several ways. First, supportive counseling helps ease the pain of depression, and addresses the feelings of hopelessness that accompany depression.  Second, cognitive therapy changes the pessimistic ideas, unrealistic expectations, and overly critical self-evaluations that create depression and sustain it. Cognitive therapy helps the depressed person recognize which life problems are critical, and which are minor. It also helps him/her to develop positive life goals, and a more positive self-assessment. Third, problem solving therapy changes the areas of the person's life that are creating significant stress, and contributing to the depression. This may require behavioral therapy to develop better coping skills, or Interpersonal therapy, to assist in solving relationship problems.

At first glance, this may seem like several different therapies being used to treat depression. However, all of these interventions are used as part of a cognitive treatment approach. Some psychologists use the phrase, cognitive-behavioral therapy and others simply call this approach, cognitive therapy. In practice, both cognitive and behavioral techniques are used together."

(more ...)

Feel free to PM me if you like.




Offline mjmel

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2007, 07:11:43 AM »
BuckmarkTX, you need somebody like Basquo in your life.
I'm not making fun or attempting light humor.
This is a forum of opinions. I'm giving you mine.

Despite all those things to be grateful of....,
could you be bored with your current life?

You sure are cute. I hope you find happier days soon.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2007, 07:28:18 PM by mjmel »

Offline poet

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2007, 07:39:30 AM »
Henry, you are going to pull out of this because you are now doing something about it.  Your id doctor was a good first reach, but he/she specialises in infectious disease and not mental health and just as no one would want his or her psychiatrist to be prescribing Sustiva, no one should want his or her i.d. doctor to wade into these waters. 

You've identified, for the moment, several aspects: sadness, anxiety, anger, lack of interest/motivation.  Step two, separate them out and start working toward the source of each.  Sadness, meaning what to you, about what to you, coming from what in you?  Ditto anxiety, anger and lack of motivation/interest.  Yes, I have done peer counseling for years and one of the problems is that 'patients' often push on when they enter the psychologist's office and off when they exit.  What actually needs to happen is using what each session  opens up and doing homework, by using that opening to see what else opens up before the next session.

Remember Art Buchwald, the columnist who recently died (not from depression)?  Lively, center of the party, quick wit, family centered, etc.  He and Mike Wallace (of 60 Minutes) and others on Martha's Vineyard here formed a group to support each other through the dark days and nights of their depression.  So a job, healthcare, money, success: nothing keeps  you from depression and related illnesses. 

Ah, you have been doing your homework: 'But I can rarely go beyond that and form a more personal connection.  In some
ways I feel like I never really learned how to be close to people, if that is something
that can even be learned.'  Ok, let's focus on this.  What do you see as the pattern?  You can get into the midst of people, but...?  Are you blocking them?  Are you unable to read the signals of interest?  Since gay men are the most likely to fear rejection, hiv positive or not, they are super sensitive to perceived rejection and will back off rather than suffer it.  What is a personal connection to you?  What do you see it in its ideal form?  What are you after?  Can you think of others you know who seem to have 'it' and if so what do they have, in your mind? 

Another trick: 'although
I don't feel like I am making too much progress with him. '  Or do you mean, which is the question to answer, are you and he on the same wavelength?  Does he seem to 'get' you or not?  Do you feel that he understands what you are saying?  Are you comfortable with him?  If not, it might be time to look around for a replacement.  This is not to say that you should leave him if you are simply uncomfortable with the process of talking about yourself to a stranger.  :)

As others have posted, you are not whining: ' Reading back over it, all I can think to myself is that I
need to stop whining.  If that's all it took, however, this would all be resolved by now.'  I have a good whine detector, after years of trying to get guys out of their holes.  My antenna goes up when we have done the circle, figured out things and then are being directed back to the beginning, ignoring changes which need to be made.  Whining means complaining about the same things without the willingness to change things.  Best, Win
Winthrop Smith has published three collections of poetry: Ghetto: From The First Five; The Weigh-In: Collected Poems; Skin Check: New York Poems.  The last was published in December 2006.  He has a work-in-progress underway titled Starting Positions.

Offline Buckmark

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2007, 05:34:41 PM »
I am extremely grateful for everyone's thoughts and help here, so I want to thank each of
you who responded -- Creighton, Longislander, Joe, Scooter, Scott, Melia, Daniel, Mjmel,
and Win.  Just writing this post was a big step for me, and sharing your thoughts and
experiences helps more than you know.  I'm definitely going to continue therapy, and
evaluate if it is working for me, or whether I need to find another therapist.  I am also
feeling that it would not hurt to at least visit a psychiatrist (though not without some
trepidation, as you will read below).

Here are my responses to some of your individuals posts:

Creighton -- I certainly appreciate your kind and complimenting words.  To answer your
question, there may be a void I'm trying to fill in my life, but I don't think the immediate
void is that I am looking for someone special (i.e. mate, partner, etc.).  In fact,  the way
I am feeling lately, it seems like now would not be a wise time to start a relationship
until I've worked made progress on with my depression.  Still, I have to admit that I'd love
to be in relationship -- althought the right guy may not come along at a time and place of
my own choosing.

Joe -- Objectively, I can see that mental health issues have a physiological component.
The mind and body are not nearly so separately as many people think.  Internalizing that,
however, has admittedly been more difficult.  I'm going to try to locate a psychiatrist.  I know
I have issues with seeing a psychiatrist, because of my mother's experience with them.  She
was diagnosed and treated for schizophrenia her entire adult life, and eventually committed
suicide -- I've talked with previous therapists about this ad infinitum.  So the word psychiatrist
triggers some bad memories for me.  But I can see how the right drugs might make working
with my therapist more effective.  I just don't relish taking more medications, when I have my
hands full with HIV medications.  Still, it can't hurt to at least visit one.

Scott -- Yes, I've become way too accustomed to this ever-increasing feeling of loneliness.
It feels like it is swallowing me.  And I really wish I know what gets in the way of me reaching out
and connecting.  But that is what I have to figure out for myself -- with the right help.  At least I
now know that loneliness is one of my big contributors to depression.

Danial and Melia -- I will have to ask my therapist about "cognitive behavioral therapy".  Even
after reading about it on the web, I still don't really get it.  It sure would be nice to break the cycle
of negative thinking, but I have no idea how to do so (it's not just a matter of thinking positively
instead).  I certainly don't expect therapy to be easy, and I'm willing to do the hard work and
homework which my current therapist has been giving me (mostly recognizing and documenting
the situations which trigger sad or angry feelings).  But in some ways I don't think my therapist
is "pushing" me enough (if that makes sense) -- guess I'll have to talk with him about that.

Win --  You offer up a lot of good questions that I will take quite a while to answer.  In some ways,
iit feels like I am trying to understand what is going on with me is like trying to untangle a huge,
knotted ball of twine.  Regarding personal connections, two of the questions you pose really
stand out:  Are you blocking them? Are you unable to read the signals of interest?  To some
extent, I would say yes to both of those questions.  I'd just like to feel comfortable meeting and
especially getting to know others, and letting them get to know me -- good, bad, and ugly.
In terms of not making progress with my current therapist, I think the issue there comes down
to me not feeling comfortable talking about myself with a stranger.  I'm not sure if my therapist
can help me with that, but it's something I should bring up.

Hugs to everyone...

"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline Buckmark

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2007, 05:38:04 PM »
Oh, and special thanks to Creighton for reminding me I have already bought an
airline ticket to SF for the AMG.  Since I hate to throw away money, I'm sure you'll
all see me there, God willing...  ;)

"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things:
     One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell.
     The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
- Butch Hancock, Musician, The Flatlanders

Offline bravebuddharich

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Re: Yet Another Depression Thread
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2007, 06:49:32 PM »
Everybody has posted such thoughtful, insightful posts on here, that's for sure!

The only thing I wanted to add is that if you do decide to change therapists - I don't know if you have the ability to choose your own therapist, or if like me, they assign you to someone - what I did was I demanded that they take their time in reassigning me to a new therapist, and instead of just assigning me to whoever was available, to be more thoughtful and find someone who 1. specializes in some of the areas that I need the most help with; and 2. I wanted a gay male therapist because I felt I would be more likely to talk openly about sexual matters, gay male culture issues, etc. Those were my criteria, yours would be yours, but I think it's really important to get a good fit, rather than just anybody at all...



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