Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Full-time Job - About my experiences with depression

Written by: Fenna Vlekke

The first time it took me quite a while to figure out what was happening to me. Mostly because I didn't take myself seriously. But after a while, I started to notice a pattern in how I was feeling. Often there was one day in which I felt fine, only to be thrown back into depressive feelings and thought for the rest of the week. It was exhausting. After therapy failed to make me feel better, I started using antidepressants. I often felt I couldn't talk about my depression with people, because I felt whiny and weak. But I don't feel like that anymore, because I know I have nothing to be ashamed of. If you either dealt with depression in the past or are still dealing with it right now, I hope reading my story will make you feel less alone.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I'm not sure why - maybe the mind just works differently when you're depressed - but I can't remember an awful lot about the period I first got into a depression. It's all a blur. What I do remember, is feelings of intense guilt and shame. I remember that everyday, when I sat in the subway on my way to the university, I would spend the whole time fighting myself in my head. My mind wasn't short of a battleground. The side of me that wanted to cut myself some slack got butchered by my other, blaming and shaming part. Every time, I would start the fight again, but it always ended with me feeling bad about myself and what I had and hadn't done in the past.

I remember talking in therapy, shaking uncontrollably, crying, being overwhelmed. I remember getting all kinds of advice on how to feel better. Somehow, somewhere down the line, I stopped working and dropped almost all my classes. In the end, I had only one class left. I have no clue what I did all week long. I do know that even that one class took all the energy out of me. I also lost quite some friends. I just couldn't bring myself to go to most of the parties and get-togethers. Having that one class and going to therapy took everything out of me already. 

At one point I thought it was enough. My therapist didn't know how to help me anymore, and she proposed I talked to a psychiatrist to discuss medication. I did, and some time later, I started taking antidepressants. It was amazing! I gained some weight, but had been underweight anyway, and I quickly got out of the depression. I could work and study again. I finished my Master's degree and felt like I could finally start my life. I planned this amazing world trip and, after two years of taking them, decided to quit the medication. Everything went fine.

Now, about 2,5 years after I quit, I'm on antidepressants again. People may think that's a bad thing, but for me it isn't, because I feel fine now. For about a year I'd been struggling again with depressive feelings and it felt like failing for me to start using them again. But, at one point, I just couldn't take it anymore. And it took a while for them to work, but when they did, WOW. The whole world got its colours back. When I was depressed, I had great creative ideas, but I didn't have the emotional energy to actually keep moving forward with them. Now I can.

Living with depression is a full-time job, and everything that comes next to it - like work, family, relationships, friendships - quickly becomes too much. I'm glad I feel better and I'm happy with all the extra space I have now! Yes, it was awful realising I needed the medication again, but I'm glad I started using them, because I'm feeling so much better now. I hope everyone dealing with depression knows they're not alone. And even though getting help is a big step, and it may feel like failing, it can be very important to do so. Never feel like a burden, even though you may feel like you're not worth anything, you're wrong! That's just the depression talking.

Written by: Fenna Vlekke


  1. Thanks for sharing. I have experienced much the same thing as you have. Anti-depressants make me feel what I imagine is "normal." I am not currently taking them because of the side-effects. I am generally quite conflicted. If you are interested, I wrote about it here: http://www.thesecretslayer.com/?p=234

  2. Hi Pearl. Thank you for your comment! I did read some of your blog posts and like your blog!

    - Fenna