Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What I Learned in My Year Without Depression

I went one whole year without depression.  That's the first time I can say that in a dozen or so years.

I've been treated for mental illness since 1999, though I remember bouts of depression going back to 1995.  I've never tracked my depressive episodes, so I can't tell you exactly how long I've gone without depression before.  But let me tell you, a year feels like forever!  And I'm thankful for the respite.

I learned a lot while being depression free.  I wanted to share a few of those with you.

  1. I'm pretty sure I'm feeling well because I'm taking my medication, not because I don't need it anymore.  There is no cure for bipolar.  I was diagnosed bipolar 2 1/2 years ago.  I know I could fight this the rest of my life.  But I also know there is medication and therapy to help in that fight.  I'll continue to do all I can to fight... including taking my meds and talking with my counselor.
  2. Resources like a psychiatrist and a counselor can aid in my well-being, but I'm the one who has to focus on getting well.  If my heart isn't in it, if my head isn't in it, I won't stay well, not for long.  I must keep using the resources in front of me, but I also need to take care of myself if I want to see long-term health.
  3. Wellness means including self-care in my life.  This is everything from brushing my teeth and eating every day to paying my bills and making important doctor's appointments.  Things that go by the wayside when I'm depressed, still need to be done whether I like them or not.  Taking care of myself has to remain a priority.
  4. Good things can happen too.  When you're a depressive, you often sit back and wait for the next episode to hit.  But we have to recognize and enjoy the good things too.  That's where we find hope.
  5. I am loved.  Depressed or not, I have people in my world that love me and support me.  They may not fully understand my bipolar tendencies, but they don't have to in order to be there for me.
I'm hoping I can remain depression-free for another year.  But there's no guarantee of that.  One thing's for sure, I'll enjoy my depression-free time as long as I can.  And I'll do everything I can to make my next episode as short as I can.  With help from my psychiatrist, my counselor, and my team of support.