Dealing with Depression, or Manic Depression (Bi-Polar disorder), is not something you should tackle on your own. These are both very serious illnesses which people tend to try to ignore through working more, or by busying themselves in other activities.
These methods end up doing more harm than good. People with these illnesses who try to ignore them usually end up in Mental Health Units because of suicide attempts. Sometimes they don’t even make it to receive help. People suffering from Manic Depression go through the depression and then have to deal with the mania, which can convince them to fly off a building or walk through traffic.
Depression, or being ‘down in the dumps’ is for most people a situational condition that gets them down, when the situation is gone so is the depression. When it is an illness however, that feeling or condition comes out of nowhere, remains for a while, and then leaves just as mysteriously. Once depression has reached maturity, it is like having your mind and body wrapped in a wet blanket. You feel like the act of thinking, much less getting out of bed, is beyond your strength. Every action, every thought, is mired in concrete. This goes on for days, weeks, or a month or more.
The opening stages of mania are a feeling of being on top of the world. Nothing can stop you. Allowed to progress it too gets worse. People believe they can fly, that they are God, or that nothing can harm them. Most people like the feeling of mania, it really is a lot better than the monster of depression. Until it reaches the point of being scary. Waking up’ in an unknown area or in a completely different state wondering what happened. Many deaths happen each year from untreated mania and depression.
When these episodes happen, you are dragged down physically, mentally, and emotionally. It takes time to return to a feeling of ‘normal’. What usually happens however is that although you feel ‘normal’, you really just feel better than what you did. Worse, that feeling of normal degrades into a feeling of just ‘not that depressed’. Why this happens is that when you return from an episode, you never return to the mental/emotional state from which you left. You return to a plateau beneath that which, for a period of time, is functional.
If you don’t have another episode, you might return to your former level and continue with your life. However, after awhile the episodes get more frequent; and the plateau will get lower and lower. You are sinking into what is called ‘The Death Spiral’. Without medication, your level of functioning may degrade to where getting out of bed and getting to the couch will be the accomplishment of the day. Leaving home even to go to the grocery store seems impossible. Since you aren’t eating anyway, there is little point. Eventually suicide becomes an answer.
Both of these conditions are very treatable with medication. They are known as ‘Organic’, meaning it is a physical condition. There are chemicals missing, or overproduced in your brain. Medication can replace or control these chemicals allowing you to go on with your life. However, staying on medication is also a challenge. The mind tricks you into believing it was all a dream, or that the seriousness of that episode was a one-time thing you more or less talked yourself into in a weak moment.
Some people end up putting treatment off until they are forced onto Social Security Disability. Fighting the depression and/or mania, along with being forced to deal with the pressures of doing your job well enough to convince yourself there is nothing wrong; results in the brain being overwhelmed for too long. It just fizzles out. Medication can give it enough of a break that, over time you may be restored to a point of functional living again.
Early treatment, and remaining on that treatment, is the key to keeping your sanity. If you feel down in the dumps every so often for no recognizable reason, talk to your family doctor; if you feel down in the dumps and then a short while later like you are superman, talk to your family doctor. These are a couple of the warning signs that something might be going on with you, and it needs attention before it gets worse. Medication slows or stops the progression, and allows you to successfully deal with your illness.
If you fit into any of the conditions mentioned above: unable to get out of bed, not eating or overeating, suicidal, or on the opposite extreme of these examples; seek help immediately. There is no shame in these illnesses any more than there is shame in cancer or diabetes. There is nothing you can do to prevent getting it but there is a lot you can do to control it.