I had an interesting conversation with one of my coworkers this morning. Since I have been back to work from my leave of absence I have been much happier, much more positive, and I haven't missed a single day of work...which compared to before I took my time is a big deal.
She asked me, "What happened while you were off? What did the doctor do? What did he give you? You are so different and you don't even seem like you are hurting much anymore!"
She was so incredulous and almost accusatory like she couldn't believe I was the same person that I almost had to laugh. I explained to her that before I took my time off I was in a really bad headspace. I told her that I was in a cycle of bad depression and I told her that depression is something I have struggled with for a great deal of my life. I explained that I finally recognized that I was so bad off if I didn't do something to help myself things were going to get really bad and I didn't want that to happen. I told her that by taking time off I was able to take time for me and it gave me a chance to breathe and sort of reset myself. I said that because I was so depressed the pain would get worse and the worse the pain got the more depressed I would get so I would get in a vicious cycle. I still have pain, and it's manageable now, and I can have a more positive attitude about it.
She was amazed by what I was telling her. I don't think she, or a lot of other people, realize what a toll depression and other mental illnesses can take on a person. I also don't think she realized what a difference it can make when that person takes the time to treat their illnesses. I also told her that I don't know how long this good time will last, and that I plan to enjoy it and make it last as long as it can. I know that the chemical imbalance of depression is a part of my brain and who I am. I am okay with this. I just have to be aware and try to catch it as early as I can. This time I could have caught it earlier, and I caught it before it got any worse.
Depression is like anything else in life, it's a journey. Sure, it's a roller coaster of a journey, and after time you can learn to change it from the death defying, hang you upside down, send you in loop-de-loops, make you want to vomit ride into the little kiddie coasters with the cute little dragon heads that just go in circles and up and down soft, gentle hills. The more you learn about your depression and your emotions the more prepared you are to hang with the ride. Sure, meds help smooth it out, but there is no snake oil cure for depression. It takes hard work to keep it under control.