Many of you know that I've had a Major Depressive Disorder since my first memories. It was last particularly bad in 2014 - emergency rooms were involved - and then got continuously better. I recall thinking, every 6 weeks like clockwork, "this is so much better than 6 weeks ago." Things plateaued after about a year and I thought "so this is how everyone else feels all the time." I had no reference point, never having not been depressed. As it happens, I had clawed my way up to what most people would consider the worst depression they've ever experienced.
Imagine being attacked by a bear. You play dead, hoping it goes away. As you slowly bleed to death, you just might think "This is so much better than a minute ago." That's where I was, except I was dealing with a polar bear, which starts to eat you when you play dead. The standard PHQ-9 scale meant nothing; I was off the chart - this was a different animal. Able to function somewhat, I had been tricked by this most wily of adversaries into thinking it had gone away. This is the depression you don't talk about, the one with its own personality, the one actively trying to do you the most harm possible; if you talk about this one, you get anti-psychotic drugs, which make the bear harder to fight.
I realize that, just as I had no reference for normalcy, no one else has a reference for this type of depression. Decades ago, a well-meaning woman who had some say in what I was doing, had me make a list of things, maybe 10 per day, for which I was grateful and to add to it each day. After a month, she asked to see the list and this is what I had:
1) I'm grateful no one else feels this way.
She refused to believe that I had really tried to find things for which to be grateful. There was a 1500 lb. bear in the room she refused to believe existed.
The bear's back. I'm fighting like hell. I've fought for 50 years and I'm not backing down.
Going up the country
2 days ago