Coming to terms with depression

I have decided, at the moment, to suspend my studies and clinical placement. I am a psychologist and suffer from depression. For a few years I have been fairly well on medication but made the error of thinking I was ok and stopped taking it as I thought it was impairing my ability to function. Big mistake, two months after stopping my depression has sneaked up on me, it is like a black soup that comes up from my toes to my head. My brain is so fuddled with it that I can't think and what I do think are very black thoughts. I know that they are symptoms of depression but they seem so real. I am tired all the time, can't concentrate on anything, don't want to do anything - it is amazing I am writing this! The worse thing, for me, is the shame. Shame of not going to work, giving up my studies - even though I am really taking time out. The shame of not getting up and 'doing' things, being useful, productive, interested. Nothing distracts me and all I want to do is sleep so I don't have the stress of feeling like I do. I can't talk to my family, it just doesn't seem to happen, I start to feel vulnerable and exposed and judged even though I don't actually know what they really think. I compare myself to them and how hard they work and all the things they do and then, on a bad day when I can't get up at all, wonder how they manage to do so much when I don't seem to be able to do much at all.

I didn't know life could be like this. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist soon. Perhaps it seems worse because I have spent years working with people with lots of different mental health issues, maybe I expect myself to treat myself, but although knowledge is very helpful and can assist me getting through some days, it makes some of what I have learnt about treatment for depression seem so off-message, and not really hitting the point.

I also suspect that I think I judge myself as an incompetent psychologist as well as an incompetent human being because I have this illness and can't function effectively.

I am lonely too.

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7 Replies

  • Hello

    This seems like Doctor Heal Yourself.

    One thing I understand is the danger of letting your self fall into that black pool, you should realize that you will possibly need to revert back to medication and only that and talking will assist in possibly easing the pain you are feeling

    Personally do you not feel that putting your training onto the back burner will most probably make you more depressed and may make it more of a problem for your future work position. The longer this goes on the more difficult the a recovery will become.

    You need to decide and look inward to what is causing this, and decide on a way forward in your life.

    Although I have suffered from a Reactive Depression for many years now I am not any type of Health Worker.and we are all here to help each other. You yourself should know how to read what is going on in your head. This must be a real problem for you in that future occupation that you are entering into.

    You will be having problems relating to your clients when you are depressed, if you want to carry on you will need to look into yourself and try and understand where all this is coming from, there is no shame regarding mental health problems and you yourself will understand the number of people who suffer from this condition in the United Kingdom so you should take comfort from that and you should get comfort in the understanding of the condition you suffer from.

    With regards to being incompetent, I would imagine the depression you suffer from will most probably help you in dealing with the condition and you should be able to relate to those who are sitting on the opposite side of the desk. Personally I may feel more comfortable with you as you have had a practical understanding of that condition

    One of the best things is to have someone near or related to you who you can talk to regards what is happening in your life. Try and extend the number of people you know, I do not know your personal life although looking into that towards people who love you is the best place to be. It is no good being self critical that will only make matters worse.

    You should never compare yourself to other people, that is one of the worst thing to do, those people will have there own problems, they most probably will be better hiding them than you. Of course you need to walk in another persons shoes before you would want to lead there life, you may be shocked what is going on in there lives.

    As I have mentioned before I am not a Health Worker just a patient with health and mental conditions so I really cannot advice as such.

    You have a wonderful occupation that helps people going through life crisis, it is a good thing that you, when well can understand patients that knock on your door

    All the very best

    BOB ,

  • It's really good that you are saying 'suspended' rather than abandoned - that is really, really positive even if it doesn't feel so.

    I really hope you are in a position to go back to them before too long.

    You said that you feel what you have learnt is 'off message' - may be it is more that you are realising that knowledge without compassion/empathy isn't as helpful as knowledge combined with compassion/empathy. Having an understanding of this from the inside puts you in such a wonderful position to really help people and get through to them. That isn't to say that professional distance isn't important because you need to be well yourself - you need to understand how people feel without actually putting yourself through the burden of feeling it yourself ... which is really empathy rather than compassion.

    Remember that most people are their own worst enemies. We are hardest on ourselves and we need to be kind to ourselves.

    I think most of us find it difficult to talk about things with our family - but actually what other people think isn't important. Its what we think about ourselves and how we treat ourselves that is the key.

    Sorry about the black thoughts ... personally think it is one of the tricks the brain plays on us. On one level the darkness is comforting - and that's where it starts - but then it spooks us and we get more stressed and our reward is more blackness than anyone can actually bear ... but if you know that is what is going on you can get out of it because all thoughts are thoughts - whether they have reality behind them or not - and we do have a choice about how we react. I used to get caught up in huge downward spirals until I hit upon visualising the thoughts as unwanted visitors and deciding that, rather than cowering at the back of the house and pretending not to be in, I was going to open the door and ask them politely to go away. Yes, they came back but each time I'd acknowledge them and then go back into the house and do whatever I had been doing and eventually it got to the point where now if they come I don't go and hide but I think 'okay so I'm a bit stressed - my brain is telling me to relax.'

  • That must be such a difficult situation. Taking advice that you only know how to give other people must be so difficult? I think it's important that you feel able to hand your care over to someone else, and try and detach yourself from your job. On a plus side, when you come out the other side, your empathy and understanding of your patients will be so much richer x

  • Belle, fellow health professional here - could have written your post word for word 6 weeks ago, but my episode was not stopping meds, it was on meds but neglecting self-care especially sleep hygiene.

    I suspect I'm a few years older than you and I've lived with mood disorders for most of my life, continuously medicated 12 years now. As well as doing lots if work this last 4 years on acceptance and mindfulness, this episode has got me looking at my priorities long and hard. I'm now accepting I need to use the energy I have that has gone into being the very best health professional, into looking after me, and just find a job I can do and then leave at work.

    So that's my 2014 goal...

  • Hi there and welcome to our Merry ' er' Depressed Group. . It is hard admitting we

    Need help . Stopping the medication probably hastened your Depression.

    Reading your Post it does sound like the typical Depression, although there is no

    Typical as such, the self blame, inertia and everything. Would there be any

    Chance that you could be suffering from Burn Out the symptoms are much the

    Same as Depression.?

    At least you are seeing your Doctor too, make sure and tell him everything, I am

    Sure you will get over this, in the meantime know you are among people

    Who empathise and then You might not feel so alone.

    Depression. Can

    Be very isolating, but you have taken A step out of that place.


  • hope getting back to the meds will gradually bring you back to yourself.

    I guess the one advantage of you being a psch is that you knew very soon when you needed to step back from study, too many of us try to go on and on till we get worse and worse.

    Silly question, but what is it about the treatment of depression by professionals that is off message? it would be really valuable to know what the gaps in their approach are.

    No one else would label you as an incompetent human being, just as ''being human''

    Fingers crossed that when you return you will have fresh energy,

  • It feels off message, that may be my problem but my depression is part of a series of life experiences that left me with complex trauma and anxiety plus the depression. When I try to explain why these life experiences were so traumatic for me as a mother there have only been a few professionals who seem to have got it. People without children, or have not been made homeless due to being lied to by a man who basically got rid of my children and took all my money, don't seem to understand how much grief, loss, betrayal etc., I was experiencing and it still comes up and overwhelms me. Makes me feel very suicidal and although I don't act on these now, I feel very unsafe with myself. I feel that I made a stupid choice of man, put myself and my children in a damaging situation. Now I, because I am depressed at the moment, these feelings of shame, guilt and pointlessness of me that if Dignitas would take me I would willing go. The thought of carrying on because everyone wants me to be 'better' is too dreadful to contemplate so I tend to take some meds and put myself to bed during the day and listen to the radio to try and distract myself. Depression is really, really awful.

    Thank you for your kind messages everyone.

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