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First post, Need help


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I originally posted a different version of this same post, but deleted it after reviewing and deciding that it rambled on a bit too much. So, here's a second take. It's been a few weeks, but the main idea remains the same. There are a few additions included as well...

I was first diagnosed with unipolar, biological-based depression back in 1991 (age 17). Since that time (with a few very brief lapses), I have been in treatment. I've been on various medications over the years (currently taking Cymbalta); and intermittent psychotherapy (presently once a month) for stress, anxiety, and related social issues.

I have a relatively good, stable job. However, I constantly feel inferior and that I am just a step away from ruining everything.

Briefly, my educational background does not match my career. I earned a B.A. in 2002 in a Humanities/Social Science field, then held a few different administrative/clerical positions. I finally worked my way up in my current company to what is considered technical job role. However, due to the politics of my organization, my job title cannot be that of the actual job I am doing until I either put in more years or actually go back and get a specialized degree. For all intents and purposes, that's fine with me, but every time I get an ounce of ambition to do something try to move ahead in my career, I end up thinking "What's the point?"

I am married (no children). Money is tight, since my wife was laid off a few years back and is now back in school, changing careers. She's got one year left before she'll hit the job market and our financial situation will (hopefully) start improving. Right now we're building up debt with student loans and some credit cards make ends meet. I think we're going to make it through, but I get stressed about money on a regular basis. This feeds back into my thoughts about my job. I'm the youngest/least experienced member of my group at work. I am the only one with less than 15 years experience. Salaries are confidential, but I can ballpark what the others in my department must be earning and it gets me frustrated (I figure I'm making about 1/3 what the others are), even though I know full well that it makes perfect sense given their experience and time with the company.

All things considered, I feel very stressed most of the time. I have begun to experience panic attacks. It's very difficult for me to concentrate on anything for more than a few hours at a time, and sometimes I cannot concentrate at all. I get fatigued very easily. I get migraines that interfere with my basic functionality on top of everything else. I can't afford to lose my job, and yet some mornings I wake up and just can't get myself out of bed. I've spoken to my employer at a high level of the problem and they have been understanding and supportive, but I still feel like I'm going to mess everything up one of these days.

I know the normal suggestions of exercise, getting involved in activities, getting enough sleep at night, etc., but those kinds of things don't seem to be helping all that much.

I just took the Goldberg Depression Questionnaire and scored a 67. I'm already under the care of a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist, and have been for years. At the actual points in time when I need them, I call and their message says “if you need help right now call 911.” I’m not about to do that – I can barely afford the co-payments to see them in the first place, let along racking up a bunch of hospital bills. I don't know what to do or where to turn. It doesn't seem like anything will help.

I’ve been dealing with this off and on for almost 20 years, and I know it could continue for the rest of my life. I’m not looking for someone to tell me that “everything’s going to be alright.” I need some actual, concrete help.

This still seems a bit like rambling to me, but if I can provide any more information that would help, feel free to ask.

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I know how you feel. Mental illness treatment can be so frustrating, especially if you feel like it hasn't made a dent in your depression. Do you feel like therapy is helping at all? You go once a month. Do you dislike going? Have you considered switching to a new therapist that has a different approach?

It sounds to me like you do allot of negative self talk, which needs to be combatted. Tell yourself that you are a capable person. No you're not perfect, but you do have good qualities. For one, you had the courage to post here for help. You are a loving husband. I'm sure there are countless other things I could name if I knew you better. Start thinking upon what you do have instead of what you don't. Build yourself up.

It helps to take an aggressive stance against depression. I have to combat depression every day. I force myself to turn my negative thinking around. I stop myself from worrying and negative self talk. I force myself to get out of the house and do physical activity. I pray and depend upon God. I wish there was an easy answer, but medication and therapy alone doesn't always cure those depressed feelings. I've found that it's better to struggle and fight against depression than to give in and let it rule my life.

If you need to talk to someone and no 3D person is available you can always come here. There are people who care and who will support you. And I hate to say it, but it WILL get better. You have to believe that. Think about the good days and know that this too shall pass. Hang in there.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Philosopher and Kittenhugs,

I agree with Kittenhugs:) and I want to add that you, Philosopher, might benefit from a type of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). You would have to find a psychologist trained, experienced and skilled in that type of therapy. It will help you learn how to silence that negative talk that Kittenhugs is referring to.

Would your company pay for you to return to school so that you could qualify for the job title you want?


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Thanks for the advice, Kittenhugs & Allan.

It's been a hard week. I've been virtually non-functional for most of the week, missing most of the work week. My depressive feelings/symptoms seem to feed into one another like some kind of vortex of doom: lack of energy, can't focus or concentrate, hopelessness, helplessness, aching, guilt, worthlessness, despair.

Finally today I called my psychiatrist to get an appointment for next week to see if anything else can be done with my meds. I think your advice to try to get a different therapist may be worth trying. My wife agrees (I am lucky to have a wife that is supportive and understanding; I feel guilty not being able to keep going all the time, letting her down like this). My current therapist is OK, but I don't feel like I've been making much progress lately and I certainly need SOMETHING right now. A CBT specialist could be helpful, so I will begin to search for someone in my area.

I wish I could communicate my thoughts and feelings better. That's one of my symptoms as well - inability to communicate (normally that's one of my strong points).

Signing off for now...

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Philosopher,

It sounds like you are on the correct path towards feeling better. Keep in touch and let us know how things are going. We feel concerned about you.


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Perhaps I am on the "correct path," as you say, Allan. But I still feel like I'm basically holding on for dear life, as it were.

Let's assume a scale of 1 to 10:

1 - suicidal

2 - catatonic

3 - non-functional

4 - depressed

5 - "normal"

6 - at ease

7 - optimistic

8 - happy

9 - excited

10 - manic

I've been hovering around 3-4 for several weeks now, trying not to slip down to 2. I'm not really having any compulsions toward suicide, which I suppose is good, although, that's apparently what it takes to get anyone to really believe that a person is in serious need of help, which is a sad state of affairs.

So on top of my mood/mental state, I'm worrying about messing up at work by virtue of (a) missing work, even through I do call in when I have to miss work; or (B) not being able to perform to the level that I need to do in order to be effective. And currently being the only income-earner in the house because my wife is in school full-time, it adds to my stress, but I can't seem to use it as motivation - it's like I'm just completely burned out in life in general and can't get myself back on track. I feel like such a mess, and that I'm letting my wife down.

I go to bed each night praying that I'll wake up in the morning in a good mood, able to get up and be a productive member of society and provide for my family. But that happens so seldom these days.

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Allan & Kittenhugs,

First, I want to thank you for your advice and encouragement. Last week was truly bleak for me, but this week has been going better. I have gotten myself to work each day and for the most part have been able to focus and my mood has been fairly stable. It's a bit like last week just blind-sided me somehow so that I was knocked out, but then somehow I got up Monday morning this week and started trudging along again. I wish I understood why it happened.

On that note, I also want to report that I had my first session with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy counselor today. With the first appointment, it was mostly me talking about my background, history, and such, but I did come away with the impression that this will be a very good path for me.

She gave me a short "Intro to CBT" explanation. Here's what I came away with:

  • Thoughts lead to Feelings, which then lead to Behaviors.
  • If I work to identify the thoughts are driving me, I can then work on consciously controlling my thoughts to influence by feelings and behavior. This can provide a reduction of the effects of the depression (bio-chemically) and allow me to direct my thoughts in ways that will help me feel better and engage in behaviors that help me achieve my goals.
  • I have an assignment before the next session to identify some priorities and goals that I want to work on. I am also supposed to come up with a description of what my depression "looks like," or how it manifests.

For so long I've felt like there was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent (or at least minimize) the depression - a very helpless and hopeless feeling. I like the idea of learning to be able to actually exert some control over it. I know it won't make everything perfect and it will take discipline and effort, but just the idea that I can get myself moving in a positive direction is like a shot in the arm.

Since this was my first exposure to CBT, I appreciate any feedback as to whether my description above like it's on the right track.

Thank you!

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Hi Philosopher-

It does indeed sound like you got the take away message behind how CBT works. I have heard repeatedly in my clinical work what you expressed.... it is very nice to have a way to address depression that is under your control. Feeling like you can do something is very empowering.

Also, the very nice thing about CBT is that once you get the hang of it, you can also use these same techniques for dealing with other types of feelings. So, if you tend to get anxious or stressed out, these same techniques can be used very successfully.

That being said, CBT is hard work. It doesn't happen magically, without practice, practice, practice. Also, it sometimes takes a bit longer to work that some people would like. Don't give up!!!!

If you would like to read more in-depth about CBT and how this theory and strategies are related to the treatment of depression, I encourage you to read our article on depression, starting here: http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=13006&cn=5

This will also give you some exposure to the common types of thinking errors that people make which can drive depressive feelings and behaviors.

Keep us posted on the therapy and your progress.

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