I’m in the midst of a depressive episode. Self-assessments using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) have consistently scored 20 or more for each of the last seven weeks. The good news is that my PHQ-9 scores are improving. I’m hopeful that this means that I’m coming out of the episode.
There’s much about this depressive episode that’s different. Unlike my last episode, this time I’ve reached out. I shared the fact of my struggle in this blog. I contacted my CMHA team and told them that I was struggling. I called the hospital and arranged to meet with my psychiatrist. In other words, I followed steps 5 and 6 of my self-care plan.
I admit, I wasn’t at all sure I’d do this. I was concerned that when the time came, I might be too isolated to take these steps. Which is yet another difference with this episode. It came upon me quickly and devolved into the darkest of thoughts before the isolation took hold. Yes, I’ve been isolating, but not with the severity of my last depressive episode.
Another difference in this episode is my ability to see moments of joy even while the darkest of thoughts have made themselves known. I recently saw an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario and was moved by the colour and majesty of the art on display. I know that in my previous depressive episode, this ability to enjoy was absent.
There’s no doubt that my medications have helped mute the effects of this depressive episode. I’ve often expressed the view that they created a stable foundation from which recovery could be built. My response to this latest challenge tells me that the foundation they’ve created remains strong.
There’s also no doubt that all my work over the past two-plus years has effected a change in me. I’m more resilient, more capable of coping with a depressive episode. I wasn’t sure that this was true primarily because the effects of the change were untested. However, these past few months have been a real test and the fact that events did not devolve to self-harm gives me comfort.
I take solace in this. I maintain hope.