I just made this diagram this morning. This is a cycle that I feel I'm stuck in at all times. I don't believe it will ever end. That idea alone is very discouraging.
I fight depression. I'm sure it could be a lot worse. But some days, it is so frustrating that I can't seem to get off the merry-go-round.
This is what I know...
- There's no way to know how big or how small the circle will be each time I travel it. It changes. Moreover, there's no way to know how fast I'm traveling the circle. But I assure you, the speed changes as I make my way around the circle. So there's really no knowing how soon I'll get to the next phase and how long I'll be stuck in that phase.
- Fortunately, so far anyway, I've ALWAYS gotten back to the top of the circle, feeling good about myself and others. At these times, I am much more likely to have some sense of hope about the future.
- Unfortunately, it is inevitable that I will always get to the bottom of the circle again too. There doesn't seem to be any way to get back to the top of the circle without enduring the bottom of the circle.
I should also add that the 'Crashing' stage varies with its magnitude. Sometimes I crash all day long or maybe within the course of a couple of hours. This stage is always the fastest. It often comes as a surprise. I hate that!
One would think that the 'Recovering' stage would be much more hopeful. But it's the stage where I might actually back-slide. Some days I think I'm actually getting closer to the 'Happiness' phase, where I feel no real depression at all. But then I regress to something a little more hopeless instead of hopeful. This stage is a frustrating one. I start to feel like I'm coming out of the 'fog', and then I don't; I'm knocked down again. I know I'm better off than when I was in the 'Depression' stage, but I'm not confident enough and content enough to consider myself healing either. It's an unsettling phase. And I have to admit, many times when I'm in this stage, I wonder if it'll be the first time that I don't actually get back to the top of the circle, the 'Happiness' stage.
Depression sucks. There's no way around it. It's a vicious circle. Some of it relatively good, some of it bad, some of it frustrating, some of it down-right scary. When I'm happy, I try to write down things that magnify that happiness so that I can do them when I'm depressed. And when I'm depressed, I try to write down the things that I dwelt on that seemed so overwhelmingly impossible, so that I can tackle them when I'm happy. But that's harder than it sounds. The things that seem to make me happy, seem so shallow when I'm depressed. And the things that magnify my depression seem so trivial when I'm happy. So it's difficult to know how to effect positive change either way.
All I really know is, depression sucks. And I obviously have no idea how to get a handle on it.