I'm a professional guy in his mid-50's. I've always had low-grade depression and anxiety (I worry if I don't have anything to worry about!, and I've taken Wellbutrin and Prozac before...) I've been a designer for 30 years and a Professor/teacher for 17. I have really enjoyed designing (I have many awards)... and teaching.. until now.
In May last year I was abroad and was diagnosed with an incurable long-term disease. The anxiety was HUGE and I couldn't sleep. The doc prescribed Ativan 1mg nightly to help me relax and sleep (without any warning about it...). Wow, I slept 12+ hrs! I kept taking it... then realized after a few days that 12 hours later I was sweating, heart racing, termors etc etc. Turns out they were inter-dose withdrawal sypmtoms. (Ativan should be taken at least 2-3 times a day.) Then I tried to stop, and realized I was dependent!!.. after just a few weeks. (Benzos are SO dangerous..)
Anyway, to cut a long story short in Sept and back in USA I started to slowly get myself off the Ativan. It took 12 weeks, during which time I was hit with HUGE depression. Maybe it was already present and the Ativan was just hiding it..?
I now have no joy in life. I can hardly concentrate on teaching or designing. I feel like I just barely "function" every day, and everything is overwhelming. I also sleep very little and wake early. (Evenings are much better than mornings...) I've been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I've also realized that I've made REALLY bad choices of relationships over the past 12 years in my personal life.. I know I can't reverse them, but now they seem overwhelming and seem to have lead me to where I am now.
Btw, this is depression without an anxiety component.
I went into Cog therapy but I'm not on AD's yet. I know I should be, but I'm nervous about more side-fx from them affecting my work. I'm struggling on.. I don't want to take time off work... my therapist tells me many depressed people who do that don't return. Things are falling behind in my life and not getting taken care of. I live alone. I know the fall-out of all of this will hit the fan real soon... although my Univ administration knows of my diagnosis (I told them) and they think "I'm masking it well.." As I'm the only Prof in my area of design I also know they don't have a back-up plan if I go off sick.. (which is weird.. I've been there for 17 years and never been off sick!)
I also feel like I've been left behind technology-wise, and haven't kept up with my skills.. I don't want to lose or change my job.. but I don't know how to carry on "normally" either.
"I've also realized that I've made REALLY bad choices of relationships over the past 12 years in my personal life.. I know I can't reverse them, but now they seem overwhelming and seem to have lead me to where I am now."
This is a major problem in my depression, and the depression of a lot of people I know, especially teens - early 20s.
I think it's something your brain just falls back on by default when you don't know why you're unhappy. You go back to check what mistakes you've made and how different your life would have been, and suddenly, in your unhappy state, that life doesn't seem so bad anymore. This re-enforces your depression, causing it to get worse over time.
I always go back and dwell on how I ruined a "perfect" relationship that would might have had some serious issues, but would have kept me happy deep down anyway. Those things had a major impact on me and my life would have been completely different now, had I chosen a different relationship option.
The honest truth is that they really are nothing to be concerned about. I believe that life is made up of a number of big choices you make as you grow. Ignoring the quantum and other theories, I don't believe in fate.
However, while the choices you make are seldom positive. The positive ones usually have such a big impact on your life, that they outweigh the pain and regret caused by your earlier choices.
Definitely don't take time off work unless you HAVE TO. Staying at home and giving yourself lots of time to think will most likely make the depression worse, FAST.
Give yourself things that you HAVE to do and do your best effort to stick to them. Any free time you get should be put into thinking about your current position in life and thinking what you need to add, remove or change.
Lightprof, sorry to hear that you feel that your life is spinning out of control. I know that when people make poor relationship choices it IS for a reason and this reason can be discovered in therapy and corrected. How was your upbringing? How much do you think that your incurable disease is contributing to your depression?
My upbringing wasn't great. My parents divorced when I was 11, and I went to live with my Dad. For his own reasons he left me alone in the house (in the countryside) sometimes for a day, and sometimes overnight.. while he went looking for a new relationship. He also couldn't pay bills etc so I had to learn how to do that and take care of the house. He remarried when I was 15.
I don't think my disease is contributing much. I don't have any problems right now, and I don't think about it continously...
Lightprof, so do you feel like you were abandoned by both your mom and dad? I have heard that to a child divorce feels like your life has been ripped apart. Sounds like you then became the caretaker for you dad. Kind of backwards, huh? If you were taking care of your dad, instead of the other way around, you might have learned to not meet your own needs? What exactly are the wrong relationship choices that you have made? What was "bad" about these people? Do you think that you have a fear of intimacy?
The divorce of your parents,when you were young, probably did have connection with who you are today and how you act/react to choices.
I must say I'm living proof. Abandonment reactions do affect relationships, until one can discover the reasons you choose the people you. In my younger days, I never knew or looked for the reasons I was attracted to the wrong men. Screwed up royaly. Now I look for what I see that was a lesson in my life, not blaming the other person. I believe we met everyone for a spiritual reason..A reason to learn about yourself. Taking pictures or just taking a ride to somewhere the shows God's beauty is my way of dealing with depressin. Watching children giggle, also can help. As a designer, you should not have trouble with seeing beauty in the world. As a teacher, you can get a natual high by watching your students absorb what you are teaching them. Finding beauty every day helps.
Best of life