Now that I've opened the lid it's all coming pouring out! Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post or emailed me directly with their messages of 'me too'. I am very grateful for them.
I didn't want to have depression so I didn't want to take anti-depressants as this would confirm the diagnosis, and I declined these for a long time.
The evidence for treatment of mild depression is that non-pharmacological treatment is equally as effective.
I did regular exercise- despite my exhaustion, assuming that because it did not give me the extra energy and well being as promised, that I wasn't doing enough. So I did more, but got no better and became more fatigued.
I reduced my working hours and then increased them again when I became bored, having no inclination to fill my time with anything.
When I stopped drinking I expected my depression to be cured too; I had a guilty conscience, knowing I drank too much and thinking that maybe, this was the cause of my problems. It wasn't.
I accepted referral for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I had high hopes for this and embraced it wholeheartedly for over a year. I can now recognise that during this time, the signs of my illness were clear: I worried about wasting the therapist's time, I felt stupid that I couldn't manage my life and I ended up in tears when I couldn't do the 'homework'. I tried hard but could not translate my week into the categories of thoughts, feelings and actions. I just didn't understand them. This made me feel a total failure- not only did I struggle with the minutiae of life, I could not 'do' the treatment.
As the frequency of tears increased I was sent back to the medics who thought it was time for medication. I accepted. I had remained sober and felt I had exhausted all other therapeutic options.
I threw up 40 minutes after my first dose of antidepressants. I panicked. What now if I couldn't even take the drugs? What a total failure, beyond help!
I persevered and became used to the side effects and could tolerate the increases in dose that kept happening slowly but surely.
The first time I felt that it was working was one evening whilst driving home from work. It was dark, pouring of rain and I was stuck in a traffic jam at roadworks. It had been a busy day and I was tired. As I sat in my car I was aware that despite the situation, I felt calm and peaceful. Content. I was not my usual grumpy, fed up, pessimistic moany self.
I had never before been content and I suddenly thought, this is what normal people must feel like all the time! How lucky are they? No wonder they think life is good. It feels great!
I know those heights now, as well as the depths that my mood can sink to, so I know that day to day I'm somewhere in between. Sometimes up and sometimes down. I stay this way on a dose and combination of anti-depressants that would knock a horse out. Far above the licenced levels, and recommended for use only in 'moderate to severely depressed in-patients'.
That is why the exercise and CBT did not work. I did not have mild depression. I had significant depression and still do, whether I like it or not.