Cycles of depression

Hey there, I'm Dave, 35 originally from the UK but since moved to Australia.

I've had depression on and off for 12 (ish) years, roughly coinciding with my Mum's death - assume this was the trigger, but possibly just coincidence. Was first diagnosed with mild depression around that time, and for a few months was on a low dosage of citalopram (10mg) a day; on these for a few months, seemed much better so dropped them entirely.

Fast forward 11 years, and I found myself in a situation where I had to resign from my job in Brisbane, I shan't bore you all with the minutiae of Australian employment law, but suffice to say I have since been under great pressure to find a job, lest I be deported. My life for the past 11 years has (for the most part) been all about work - 50-60 hours a week, demanding and very intense work that I could throw myself into, coupled with excessive drinking and smoking (tobacco). The main reason I moved here was to break that cycle, and likewise, the main reason I resigned from my previous job was that it wasn't allowing me to do so.

This was 8 months ago. For the 4 months after I quit, I was in a horrible hole, a depressive state so severe that I wouldn't get out of bed for days at a time, wouldn't leave the house, and even cut off all contact with anyone. In that time, I have experienced highs, lows and everything in between. Have seen a psychologist, whose thrust was on mindfulness, to combat my deep lack of self worth and self compassion; we discussed that this may have always been the case, I'd been using work as a distraction for years - probably true. I have also been re-prescribed citalopram (20mg), and since then Efexor (75mg) as the previous was not breaking my bi-weekly mood crashes.

The cyclic mood swings are the reason I've found this forum, and am posting here for advice. I'm married, recently in fact, back in January to a wonderful woman; we wed primarily to avoid any deportation issues whilst I was looking for work but also because we love each other very much. She was there throughout my darkest moments, and I owe her so much. But, given the length of time I've been 'down' she has run out of patience somewhat, and I feel as though her resentment/occasional anger is pushing me away (by my own volition), so that I can avoid conflict/feelings of blame/anything that can impinge upon my own self worth. I want to be able to deal with these downs, they happen normally on weekends, when we are around each other more (she works during the week), and much of her resentment comes from me "ruining her days off".

I will be starting a job again soon, and I hope that this will nurture my self worth, as well as offset my many money worries. I really don't want to be this person, and whilst I know there are many exercises and resources - especially - to do with mindfulness, I can't seem to break this damn cycle.

Any help, any tips, or merely someone who can give me reassurance is very welcome.

2 Replies

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  • First of all good on you for sharing your experiences. Not an easy thing to do. Totally with you on the working long hours at a job which you can throw yourself into- me too. I agree that the all consuming distraction of such a job can mask emotional 'trouble'. Totally identify with the drinking - I use this as a way to relax/ not think. But it's not helpful. Also done the counselling thing and had mixed results.

    Following recent workplace situation (ground going from under me with a new and potentially psychotic boss) I've been on anti depressants but this time also took up the couch to 5k program. Without doubt the best thing I've done in a very long time. True it was very hard to be motivated to go at times (I hated PE at school!) but so glad I stuck with it. Not sure how helpful this is to you but it is different to counselling and definitely helps your brain to get back into a better frame of mind. Could your wife join you on this at the weekend? If it's a bit much to start with maybe suggest going for a walk together around a local park and take some sandwiches? It's cheap and a really nice thing to do and allows for general conversation- people watching, nature etc?

    Take care.

  • Hello Dave, its hard to see any pattern in your depressions and apart from saying you are prone to depression I can't see that it fits any of the standard categories. As the "standard categories" are IMO merely arbitrary labels for the convenience of the medics that is not something to worry about in itself.

    I have no idea about medical facilities or procedures in Oz ,but imagine they are quite good. My advice would be to spend a bit of time detailing as far as you can your history of depressions ,more or less as you have written it up here, and visit a GP with this written up. Its far easier to present this to a GP in a coherent form if its written down.

    Although its serious to you and all depression is pretty awful , yours does not strike me as one of the more serious forms, you are married, and starting a job,and have mostly kept in regular work. You have a lot going for you. Hopefully a GP will be able to prescribe you a low dosage of an effective AD which you might need to take for an extended period, even after any depression has ended to avoid future episodes.

    Follow all the sensible rules for anyone with a tendency to depression, regular and healthy eating and sleep habits, no excess alcohol, certainly no recreational drugs, outdoor exercise (jogging or running should be possible at your age), maximum social contacts etc etc. Some of these will be a bit of a PITA but they are not that bad and will all help avoid depression.

    Be very good to your wife , the value of having a partner when and if depression does strike, is immense,and the negative effect of a break up of a relationship, especially a marriage would be huge. Depression is n't very nice for you but its also very hard on a partner.

    The other thing of immense help is work, as you seem to know. It gives a sense of self worth, valuable social contact throughout the day, and avoids the stress of money worries. If you can eventually find a job thats not excessively stressful and you really enjoy and look forward to , that alone would probably guarantee no more depression.

    I'm 73 and still a heavy smoker. Its a minor point but I would make a real effort to pack this up. It will give you additional self respect and avoids the risk of being heavily stressed if you through bad luck find yourself somewhere where you can't smoke,say if you break a limb and are in hospital. At least cut it down and get it under control.

    Sorry if all this sounds a bit like a sermon but you should be able to live a normal happy, productive life but if prone to depression you have to live it with a few more rules and guidelines than the majority.

    Olderal G'day

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