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Hey everyone. I created this thread so we can have a place where we can speak about our battle with depression, where we've been and where we currently are in our journey. Please post your stories and how you were able to get through them. It would be wonderful to share success stories with one another and have a community where we can turn to each other for support and encouragement.
 

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no such thing as success story with depression
just may mean it's temporarily dormant
or that you learnt how to function with it and collect scraps of your previous life
I've battled since the past decade. I was able to maintain it dormant by taken antidepressants and going to the gym.
 

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Change of scenery is always good. Go to live in another country for example. Also stop doing drugs.
 

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Change of scenery is always good. Go to live in another country for example. Also stop doing drugs.
I would love to talk about it but I prefer to keep my private life for me and my family.
But, as you can imagine, I did the things you pointed but never worked for me.
 

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Hey everyone. I created this thread so we can have a place where we can speak about our battle with depression, where we've been and where we currently are in our journey. Please post your stories and how you were able to get through them. It would be wonderful to share success stories with one another and have a community where we can turn to each other for support and encouragement.
Thanks for creating this thread. How are you coping? Anything you want to share with us?

For me, I find that's it better when I don't give myself too much time to ruminate and start negative self-talk, as I can quickly spiral into a not very nice place. I have days where I don't want to get out of bed or socialise with anyone. Those are often the times where I should actually go out and do stuff. Taking that first step to get out of the house is a struggle. Still working on it.
 

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I've battled since the past decade. I was able to maintain it dormant by taken antidepressants and going to the gym.
good that you can go to the gym, i can't because my cortisol level goes high and i feel super sick
(not to mention things like getting up from the chair makes me already feel like doing heavy gym training and i have to focus to get up)

but calm yoga at home that includes some strengthening exercises (planks etc.) is what helps me
 

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Not so well as of the past week. Change of scenery does help. I have a little park outside my house so I will try and frequent that more often.
Sorry to hear things have been difficult lately. Managing the ups and downs of depression can be quite exhausting. For me, the downs are really miserable and the ups don't last very long. Has there been a trigger that made things worse this past week (you don't have to answer if it's too intrusive)?

I like going to the park as well. It can be quite helpful to reset your mind. I also like going to the beach when the weather is nice or stargazing at night. There's something about nature that is very calming and provides a different perspective.
 

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Hello there fellow depresees :) (does that term make any sense? - anyway, you get what I mean :p). This might be a long post, but as some of you don't feel like going out sometimes, you have time to read. :D Actually I'll split it in 3:

1/3 BACKGROUND (what triggered my depression & encounters with depression in those around me)

Depression is a b*tch! (n)

It hit me hard when I changed country. Not immediately (and I wasn't aware initially what it was... I've been a very upbeat person back in Romania) but it crawled up on me until it got suffocating, blending with work stress on the verge of a burn-out. There were multiple causes:
  • Maybe not all Romanians, but in the circles I grew up in, people were blunt, but the friendships were genuine, so nobody took offense from a joke or because you were giving them advice out of love & care - in Belgium so many people took offense out of pretty much everything I was saying. I couldn't joke anymore, and I couldn't express my care to those around ("my problems are my problems, not your business")
  • Not a lot of openness from my gf's (later wife) family who are a bit xenophobic (from those who were surprised I'm "white" to those who think they are very open to other cultures, but in the same time lecture me that now I'm in Belgium and supposed to act like a Belgian)
  • I had some bad luck at work, first with some cold back-stabbing colleagues, later on with a racist boss (and because I didn't speak both languages of the country, I didn't have a lot of freedom to change jobs).
  • My wife, as much as she loved me, was not open to talk or help, because it was too much encoded in her DNA (because of family or culture, unsure what to blame) that nobody can help a depressed person, unless they help themselves. And then, when out of depression and borderline-burnout I wasn't very social at family meetings or not enthusiastic about the house renovations she wanted, she sided with her mom in lecturing me about my attitude and family duties.
  • Several people who meant a great deal for me died in a relatively short period of time and one of them did something rather shocking (something quite selfish & dishonest, and I was looking up to that person)
  • I got a pretty altruist & responsible education, which made me put quite often the needs of others over mine or worry about world or others' problems quite a bit (politically engaged, environmentally engaged, actively helping friends - which is more rewarding in Romania than Belgium, because there people seem more likely to accept your help and show gratitude, so there's the satisfaction of efforts paying off).
Depression in those around me:
  • A good friend at work went through depression after her husband asked for separation (part of the struggle perhaps being the fact that she was also in a foreign country, far from family and friends back home, and maybe other cultural differences - she's American). She later confided in me that the only reason she's still alive is because she didn't want to hurt her parents by hurting herself.
  • A Belgian friend is struggling for many years with overweight and related depression (unable to find a partner, but also victim to what I can only label as "Belgian reluctance to receive advice" because she has bad junk-food eating habits and rejects the people who criticize her about it; she's a very kind, gentle-hearted and generous person, but she's sabotaging herself - she even lost a boyfriend once who loved her for her character, but wouldn't take his hints about going to fitness together).
  • A Romanian friend married as well with a Belgian girl struggled with depression as well, initially because of the cultural clashes, but it got gradually worse after the birth of his 2 children when the intimate life basically vanished, and he couldn't cope with that
  • An acquaintance in my circle of friends who took his life, invoking in the letter the "inability to find joy" in life. I wasn't close to him, but I was particularly p*ssed with the Belgian reluctance to "meddle" into another one's life, because I saw him spiraling down and warned my friends who were closer to him, and they waved it away as "not my or their" business to invade his personal space too much.
  • Two colleagues at work took their lives (in different departments, so I wasn't close to them, but still, it brings up the frustration with the corporate / work pressure that pushes people there)
  • My wife had a small post-natal depression as well
 

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Recently I'm under the impression that virtually every one has some form or depression. Which makes me wonder if depression isn't something intrinsic to human nature, that everyone's susceptible.
 

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2/3 - HOW I COPED WITH DEPRESSION THE FIRST YEARS (temporary solutions):

As said, I first didn't know what it was, so I wasn't looking for depression-related solutions. I thought it was work-related stress that I need to manage; I thought it was marriage-related disagreements that I need to solve through communication (only my wife was reluctant to talk, because she didn't like the feeling that she "might be doing something wrong" and was a strong believer in "time solves everything", so she would rather not talk about any problem she didn't feel like or didn't know how to tackle).

When I realized what it was, I was quite deep into it, and busy over my head at work to find time to tackle it. Still, I had some help in the first years to go through it:

a) Optimism. I know I might not have radiated optimism on this forum. The things I went through killed it gradually. But I was much more upbeat person initially, believing things will be fine one way or another.

b) Religion. I know people sh*t on religion nowadays more and more because of religious fanatics on one hand, and atheist fanatics OTOH (who subconsciously want some payback for the inquisition or something). In Belgium at least you can easily be mocked as being a little background for still believing in something. You can talk about gender, race or gay rights, because that's something people ARE, but you can't bring up religion because that's something you BELIEVE (just in your head). Granted, it is in my head, but at least in my case based on personal experiences and the scientific angle that there's no hard proof against God while there are still things science can't explain (only they have the confidence they will, one day). I'm not fanatic about any religion... I grew out of the one of my childhood, respecting all sensible principles that most religions share, and rejecting fanaticism in all. And ultimately I believe there's something out there because of some experiences I had in life. To give one example, I love dogs quite a lot, and I'm sure they can feel your love. I suppose that's why (as weird as it may sound), two of my dogs sort-of visited me in my sleep before they died... and not just a random dream, it was just about us, the dog trying to communicate something: one had sadness in her eyes, the other just came to hug me, then he went away. Granted, one was old, so I know what the skeptics will say, but the other one was only 1 year old - when I called my mother in Romania the next morning to ask if he's fine, she was shocked to hear about the dream, because the dog had just been hit by a car that night. :( I know skeptics will still claim coincidence or me making things up, but I know what I know, and while that's no proof or a Christian, Hindu or Muslim god, or a yoga (or heck, Star Wars) energy binding us all, I've experienced enough to know something is out there.

Now, that introduction aside (I suppose the Belgian experience made me feel I need to justify believing in something), where religion helped, was - besides the hope that good things eventually do come for good people - was also knowing that different religions regard suicide as one of the greatest sins. I know it's a great sin in Christianity, and a Hindu friend of mine told me that, as part of their re-incarnation beliefs, there's also the belief that spirits evolve much like life evolved... and it's our duty to respect and cherish life, making the best out of it to have a better life next. Challenges come because of karma and as opportunities to evolve, or tests of faith, but if you fail the test and voluntarily give up on the life you were given, you'll be sent far back down the evolutionary chain (and could come back as a spider or something). I don't need to believe all that, but in the lack of enough hard proof against it, why not be better safe than sorry. :)


c) Love of others & altruism:
  • I loved my mother too much and was worried of what me hurting myself might do to her
  • I didn't want to cause pain in my father, brother & friends, who had nothing to do with my pain
  • My wife, some of her family and some of my Belgian friends did have something to do with my pain, but there was no desire to hurt them back this way. On the contrary, I loved them too much and didn't feel like they would deserve this, because the cause was not them being bad people, their intentions were good and they were unaware how their behavior, principle, conditionings or prejudices were affecting me... To some extent because their entire life they've been told why that's the right way to handle things and "why".
  • And what strengthened my belief that ending your life is not just about ending your pain, is what my Belgian friend mentioned above told me: that someone else told her that suicide is the most selfish thing a person can do: because you end your pain, but cause long lasting pain in so many people who loved you, including those who have no fault in your problems. This was an eye-opener as it clashed with my (sort-of) altruist personality.
So taking my own life was out of the question. But I was still left with the desperation of no-way out of my problems. So I found myself hoping for something external to happen to end my suffering. I thought of joining the military or finding some job where I could help people in a war zone, so if something were to happen to end my life - fine. But my wife vetoed such "career change". Then I had moments when - while passing by a construction site - dark thoughts were crossing my mind like "if something would accidentally fall on my head now, it wouldn't be too bad".

So that was not a sustainable way to cope with depression... :)
 

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Recently I'm under the impression that virtually every one has some form or depression. Which makes me wonder if depression isn't something intrinsic to human nature, that everyone's susceptible.
There are some who subscribe to such a theory. I believe we all can have our depressive moments. Depression is in some respects a way to navigate through the world. Clinical depression is when that becomes manifest with greater frequency and meddles in our daily lives and relationships.
 

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3/3 HOW I SUCCESSFULLY OVERCAME DEPRESSION

To be clear, something is still left there, more like a scar or weakness to be monitored, but I am happy to say I'm totally out of the dark thoughts. I love life and under no circumstance would I still want it to end. :) What helped was the following:

1) Magnezium.

It may sound stupidly simple, but this was a random advice I didn't have much faith in, from the Romanian friend mentioned above who had marriage-related depression. I started taking it and it worked wonders. It didn't solve the problems, obviously. But the reality I was in was that depression had drained me out, so I had no energy left to cope with problems, including the depression itself. Magnezium gave me small boosts of energy, somehow easing the emotional stress much like a painkiller eases a physical pain. The problems were there, but not so overwhelming... and I had energy to tackle some of them. And this gave me the energy and inspiration to tackle the depression as well, the way I'll describe on the next point.

But first, I must add one thing. My mom advised me to "have more sex" as a solution. Well, that's NOT necessarily good advice, especially for men. I don't know if it's because it worked for her, or she read it in a women's magazine (I don't wanna know), but it didn't help. Not that I did it based on her advice. I kept having an intimate life with my wife, albeit more rare and less fulfilling because of my condition and our disagreements, but the love was still there and we couldn't not do it. So I knew from experience it didn't help. Much later I found out why: magnesium is one of the minerals men release "in the process", so - if not replenished properly (depending on your diet) - in a way it can even worsen your depression, because you're further drained of energy. I suppose great sex may give mental or emotional satisfaction, but it remains energy-draining for a man, which is a challenge when already struggling with depression. There's more to say here, but it may become too much for a public forum. If you or a close one struggles with depression and want to know more on this, you can PM me.

2) Making a list of all my problems. Not in my head (that was the worst; that was dragging me down each time), but on paper!

This may sound also ridiculously simple, but it's what helped me the most. Magnezium gave me the energy to actively do something about it. What I decided to do, was to contact a psychologist. My company was offering 5 free sessions with a professional in case of any related problems. But I thought to myself: "5 sessions?!? That may barely be enough to list all my problems, let alone tackle them... and I don't have the money for 50 sessions." So I thought of being efficient about it... to be ready, with a structured list, with priorities and links between problems, in such way so that I can present them to the psychologist in one hour only, so that he/she has time to think about it, and use the other 4 sessions to tackle the most important of them (or those most easy to tackle).

And I started writing... and I wrote, pages and pages. I structured it from the beginning:
  • a page with problems & worries about my mother (who had a dramatic life, and gave her all to us, yet I wasn't giving much back, not even the grandchild she so much wanted, but I was not in the right place to offer that)
  • a page about the relationship with my father (who was always distant, but also the cause of some of my mom's problems, past and ongoing, and also favoring me over my brother in ways that affected him and which always bothered me, because I "suffer" from an obsession of fairness, so I'm equally bothered by positive or negative discrimination)
  • a page about my brother's problems (for which I felt partially responsible)
  • a page about my marital problems (which became 2 pages, with ramifications about in-laws, cultural clashes, etc)
  • a page about my problems at work and frustrations about unfulfilled career aspirations
  • a page with problems of my friends or other family members not covered above, for which I felt some sense of duty to help them with
  • a page about my personal life frustrations (no child yet, no time for my hobbies, where am I going)
  • a page with my worries about the various world problems and my frustration of not having the time and energy to do more about it
  • and I think there might have been also a page with my pains caused by the loss of some people or some other issues around me which couldn't be framed in the other categories (at least that was the idea, I don't think I've gotten that far with that page).
Well, guess what: writing all that down, had quite a cathartic effect. I was first of all relieved to get it all out (in the endless sessions of thinking about my problems, there was never an end to it... well, on that paper, there was an end :D). And the positive effect was doubled by another self-revelation: I realized I can't physically handle all that. No person can. Not ever. So why take it all in? Not to mention that taking it all in had become so suffocating I barely had the energy to properly help with any of it. So there and then I made some decisions of which problems to prioritize and what to surrender (at least for the time being and definitely until other problems are solved). It was a major breakthrough, the most relevant of them all, and since then there was no way back.

3) Yoga.

I restarted doing yoga. I had done it before, but kinda dropped it after moving to Belgium and didn't realize how much it could help. But I resumed it slowly when I decided to take back control of my life. It's a meditative yoga, but I won't say more (no publicity :p - you can PM if curious).

Through that, I also got involved in some cultural / personal development projects and thematic children camps which were also quite fulfilling, adding sense to life, because I played a notable role in making a big difference to a lot of people as on-the-side activity (didn't need to quit my job). It will sound cheesy, but it's a bit of an "It's a Wonderful Life" story (if you know the 1946 film): 12 years ago I wished many times I was dead, craving the relief. Looking back now, I see I've made a difference in the life of over 500 children and perhaps as many adults (directly involved in those projects, or the parents of those children), that I have little reason to still be depressed about life. I still have personal failures to cope with, but plenty of positives to counter-balance.

4) Visiting a psychologist.

After I made the list at point 2, the relief and subsequent changes were so big, I actually didn't feel the need of visiting the psychologist anymore. And I didn't go for a while. I actually called ones when I had a problem at work, and I got a useless guy on my phone saying I should sort it out with my manager, or go to a doctor and ask for some weeks off to prevent burn-out (you'd be surprised how reluctant some Belgian doctors are to give that to a foreigner... treating you as a potential slacker who just wants some time off on tax payer's money, because you're too lazy to do your job). The next time I felt again I things got tensed with management because they didn't believe me about something, and I was seeking communication advice, I got a better guy who invited me over to talk, and had me open up about all my problems... Somehow he didn't help me with my work problem (maybe he wasn't good in that), but he kept digging into my marital problems. I had sort of found a balance there, but there were still issues and frustrations. It took 3 (of the 5 free) sessions to list my problems... probably 2 of the 3 being spent on personal or marriage problems and how to tackle them. Then he used the 4th session to meet my wife only, to hear her version of the facts. Then he met us both in the 5th session... and helped us with a little breakthrough in our communication, which helped her see what I meant. IMO it wasn't anything new, but somehow hearing it from a professional, and a Belgian that is, she didn't regard so much as "my Romanian unreasonable request", but the typical compromise proposal people make sometimes in a marriage. We had sorted out some problems ourselves, but this helped as well to take us to the last point...

5) Having a child.

This may not work for all. But if you have a strong desire to have one, and you're partly depressed for not having one... well, this helps. :)

It brought other "issues" with it, like even less time for hobbies and other things I wanted to do in life, including no time to focus on a much needed career change, but there are no regrets. They are just things put on hold who were accomplished later, or might be accomplished later (even if only when I'm on pension). But making a child, if important to you, can't be put on hold forever. And it brings with it the joys many say it brings (to you and those around you).

Well, this is it. I'm not sure if I forgot something. Kudos to those who managed to read through all that. Hope it helped. :) It took some time to write, but if one day it helps at least 1 person, it wasn't wasted time.

Love to all,
Rads! ;)
 

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This is one of the saddest cases I've heard, of which there are many:

Yes, it's a tragic one, this one in particular being the kind of drama you may see in modern / civilized societies, where people became too individualistic and forgot to help each other: communities don't help each other enough, families don't live close enough to help (and it's not always encouraged to help), and the system allows that to happen as well.

And the country does not have enough resources to help soon enough these people, also because many of its resources are drained:
  • on one hand by the actual slackers, be it nationals or "bad immigrants" (who are a minority, but do have an effect, and are what feeds the xenophobia that partly triggered things like Brexit or Trump's election). These are the visible ones.
  • but on the other hand, the less visible vampires (they drain you "in your sleep", then "elegantly" convince you it was the daytime "leeches" mentioned above), the very rich who avoid paying taxes and squeeze/drain their employees in ways that they either get burnouts or have to quit jobs in order to still be a good parent, only to maximize their bonus & dividends (the other kind of people that played their role in Brexit & Trump's election, who have major economic personal interests there, like avoiding EU's tax transparency regulations or pursuing environmentally-destructive revenue-giving projects of all kind)
This could be prevented through more education, more heart, more togetherness & empathy, and refusal to let ourselves squeezed or manipulated. Don't compromise on the truth or your humanity (what many right-wingers do lately). But also don't let yourself manipulated, because some may milk your humanity for personal reasons or because they became a bit too fanatic about some left-wing ideals, losing sight of the whole picture.
 

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The idea of this thread is good, as mental health is very important. But knowing the way some posters act in other threads, i won't be surprised if they use the informations some will post here to bully them or try to mock them in other threads because they're depressed.

A lot of people don't understand mental illnesses are real illnesses. So be careful with the kind of personal information you give here, it could backfire (especially if you're very vulnerable to jokes about illnesses or rejection).

That being said, in my opinion, in order to fight depression, one needs to know what he suffers from overall. For example, depression can be find in cyclothymia, bipolar disorder 2, major depression etc. I'm not sure there is a receipt, but very often some advices come back again and again :

-try the most you can to not listen to the voice in your head saying you can't do this or that
-congratulate yourself when you do even the most "simple" thing like taking a shower or doing dishes (because even things like these are very difficult to do when you're depressed).
-When you feel a little like calling or seeing a friend or friends, do it immediately, because friendship is a great help in dealing with depression ;
-try to sleep enough at regular hours (difficult to do, i know)
-try to eat well, at regular hours too
-Do sport regularly, even to the point to force yourself to go to the gym
-Walk, for example 30mn in the morning, alone, at the sunrise.
-Dont be afraid to consult a psychiatrist and to take medication if needed.
-You can also try mindfulness meditation
-Observe your thoughts as if you were external to them, analyze them to see how much some of them lacks logic
-Remember you are not your thoughts. For example, you can write motivational sentences in your bedroom walls, kitchen, etc to remind you the best in you
-On a wall in your house post a paper with a list of things you have overcome in your life, but also things you succeed in, this in order to prove yourself constantly that you're enough.
-Try do to things you really, really, really like
-Own a journal and write your thoughts to appease your heart. Every night, write also the good thing you had in the day, even the most simple one.

There are also good apps like the australian app "Mood Mission" which gave you tasks to do depending of your mood (anxious, numb, depressed) to lift up your mood.
 

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Rads, you're making great points. I've been in depression for 14 years, soon to be 10 in no-remission clinical, a few of the last ones unable to work and shit.

So I don't feel like making a large post about the history of it. Psychologists never have worked for me either. I've never been on meds, surprisingly for all my diagnosis. I guess there was one point in my life when meds could do wonders for me and maybe my life wouldn't have all gone so downwards, but mental health was a taboo back then, I was scared and alone with all of this. Literally alone. Locked up in a room, not going out for almost a year. Eventually, in 2017, seeing a good psychiatrist and a very good neurologist was an eye opening experience.

Also, 98% of articles about depression are written by people who have No. Fucking. Clue. Don't read that crap.

Instead, do a research which doctor in your hood has 30 years of experience in treating depressions/anxieties, has raving reviews, and go there for whatever it costs.

1) magnesium, vitamin D, or also b12 if needed - fucking mandatory in generous amounts. Those will be bigger amounts than a regular person who takes them just for precaution. (Also do your blood tests if you need something more. Lack or bad reception of vitamin D goes hand in hand with depressive states and fucked metabolism)

2) yoga - absolutely agree here. That's the tip I got from my neurologist and I thought she's joking. In the movies you always see people meditating on their hands and shit lol. No, there are basic yoga exercises you can do at home every day in 20 minutes. Also massage sessions are great but I don't have money for it. But it works af. I have high cortisol level so I can't do any exercises or there's a total mess (insane dizziness, bleedings, migraines - take that into an account before you ever advise a depressed person to go to the gym. Their condition must be first checked thoroughly by a doctor, not by an internet expert). But yoga is a safe thing. Much, much recommended to everyone. I use the channel Yoga with Adriene. Or if you're in a horrible shape, try even rehab exercises from YouTube (I use Polish ones so I can't recommend English channels). To go out and be able to walk in open air (and regardless of the weather) for 40-60 minutes would be epic. But if you can't push yourself for walking, to be even for a bit in the open air every day is mandatory.

3) i agree with putting things on paper. Also, making a list of things (but not too many, you won't able to focus or concentrate like a healthy person) to cross them out. Crossing things out gives you a feeling of control. If you make just 1 or 2 for start it's fantastic. Seriously. Write "make the bed", "put dishes to the dishwasher", "take dishes out from the dishwasher". If you are unable to complete everything from a given day, just move it to the start of the next one with no hard feelings. That's how I started doing anything at all.

4) Diet. This is the trickiest part, because it's the most important thing but also the most difficult and when some problem comes up, it's the first one to go down, and you'll go down yourself right after. Good personalized diet (as high calorie as possible, you can't starve or crave, by "diet" I don't mean "weight loss" but the food you need to eat) that takes your kitchen abilities and lacks of microelements into account is super important. If you can't afford to order it, at least take effort to have a consultation with a dietician to decide on number of calories and which products you should especially include in your program (although let's be honest, it's better if someone does it for you, you have it written on paper and you don't need to put energy into thinking about it and planning). But some general tips you'll hear will be also valuable and will change your experience for the better, trust me.

5) Organize the chaos. You can't live in a chaos. Little by little, clean up your desk, surrounding of your bed, your room, your apartment.

6) Cut all the toxic people you can, limit those you can't cut to minimum. When I was at my lowest, I ended relationship with my previous boyfriend and I had one problem less. (ofc a lot of depressed people are depressed because they don't have anyone at all, but once you start working on yourself and stop fucking complaining about everything, you'll find someone. For a depressed person I must be the one with the smallest amount of complaining :D probably that's why I've always had men's interest despite my condition of a person who doesn't have a physical ability of getting up from the bed. And no, that's not as sexy as it sounds lol)

7) You may be often alone. Even people who are around you and want to help you, they don't know what awful shit they're taking on themselves and they will snap at you sometimes, be prepared and don't hold grudge. They just don't have a fucking idea. They think they're strong, but fighting clinical depression is like fighting a dragon. They've never seen a dragon before other than in a movie. However, honest advice, try to be at least a bit cooperative with them, don't go 100% whining, often be thankful. Just think of your life without them and appreciate what you have.

8) No one will help you until you start changes yourself. This is absolutely true. Sorry if it hurts. Nobody told me that 'golden advice', I figured it myself after years of sickness. It's the same as for coming out of alcoholism and other bad things. Yes, someone can take your hand and bring you to the doctor. Someone may listen to you. Someone may help you with the chores. That's all amazing things. But only you are the person who will be making changes within yourself (and I perfectly know how close to impossible it is... but just like a coach will not come to play for a football team, no doctor or spouse will manually improve your life experience for you. They're only to assist). You and only you are to decide "I will fight" and be determined that despite the fallbacks, you will keep fighting. At first you will be able to do very little. In the second week, still very little, but already a little bit more. It's an extremely long term fight.

(On unrelated note, Norway is same shit as Belgium and us Eastern Europeans are like 4th world people to them - under their polite smiles and their own imagination of themselves as progressive, so we just have to chew that up. It's good to have your own "sacred" zone where you can be whatever you want, like I have my YT channel for example. It's mandatory for mental hygiene.)
 

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3/3 HOW I SUCCESSFULLY OVERCAME DEPRESSION

To be clear, something is still left there, more like a scar or weakness to be monitored, but I am happy to say I'm totally out of the dark thoughts. I love life and under no circumstance would I still want it to end. :) What helped was the following:

1) Magnezium.

It may sound stupidly simple, but this was a random advice I didn't have much faith in, from the Romanian friend mentioned above who had marriage-related depression. I started taking it and it worked wonders. It didn't solve the problems, obviously. But the reality I was in was that depression had drained me out, so I had no energy left to cope with problems, including the depression itself. Magnezium gave me small boosts of energy, somehow easing the emotional stress much like a painkiller eases a physical pain. The problems were there, but not so overwhelming... and I had energy to tackle some of them. And this gave me the energy and inspiration to tackle the depression as well, the way I'll describe on the next point.

But first, I must add one thing. My mom advised me to "have more sex" as a solution. Well, that's NOT necessarily good advice, especially for men. I don't know if it's because it worked for her, or she read it in a women's magazine (I don't wanna know), but it didn't help. Not that I did it based on her advice. I kept having an intimate life with my wife, albeit more rare and less fulfilling because of my condition and our disagreements, but the love was still there and we couldn't not do it. So I knew from experience it didn't help. Much later I found out why: magnesium is one of the minerals men release "in the process", so - if not replenished properly (depending on your diet) - in a way it can even worsen your depression, because you're further drained of energy. I suppose great sex may give mental or emotional satisfaction, but it remains energy-draining for a man, which is a challenge when already struggling with depression. There's more to say here, but it may become too much for a public forum. If you or a close one struggles with depression and want to know more on this, you can PM me.

2) Making a list of all my problems. Not in my head (that was the worst; that was dragging me down each time), but on paper!

This may sound also ridiculously simple, but it's what helped me the most. Magnezium gave me the energy to actively do something about it. What I decided to do, was to contact a psychologist. My company was offering 5 free sessions with a professional in case of any related problems. But I thought to myself: "5 sessions?!? That may barely be enough to list all my problems, let alone tackle them... and I don't have the money for 50 sessions." So I thought of being efficient about it... to be ready, with a structured list, with priorities and links between problems, in such way so that I can present them to the psychologist in one hour only, so that he/she has time to think about it, and use the other 4 sessions to tackle the most important of them (or those most easy to tackle).

And I started writing... and I wrote, pages and pages. I structured it from the beginning:
  • a page with problems & worries about my mother (who had a dramatic life, and gave her all to us, yet I wasn't giving much back, not even the grandchild she so much wanted, but I was not in the right place to offer that)
  • a page about the relationship with my father (who was always distant, but also the cause of some of my mom's problems, past and ongoing, and also favoring me over my brother in ways that affected him and which always bothered me, because I "suffer" from an obsession of fairness, so I'm equally bothered by positive or negative discrimination)
  • a page about my brother's problems (for which I felt partially responsible)
  • a page about my marital problems (which became 2 pages, with ramifications about in-laws, cultural clashes, etc)
  • a page about my problems at work and frustrations about unfulfilled career aspirations
  • a page with problems of my friends or other family members not covered above, for which I felt some sense of duty to help them with
  • a page about my personal life frustrations (no child yet, no time for my hobbies, where am I going)
  • a page with my worries about the various world problems and my frustration of not having the time and energy to do more about it
  • and I think there might have been also a page with my pains caused by the loss of some people or some other issues around me which couldn't be framed in the other categories (at least that was the idea, I don't think I've gotten that far with that page).
Well, guess what: writing all that down, had quite a cathartic effect. I was first of all relieved to get it all out (in the endless sessions of thinking about my problems, there was never an end to it... well, on that paper, there was an end :D). And the positive effect was doubled by another self-revelation: I realized I can't physically handle all that. No person can. Not ever. So why take it all in? Not to mention that taking it all in had become so suffocating I barely had the energy to properly help with any of it. So there and then I made some decisions of which problems to prioritize and what to surrender (at least for the time being and definitely until other problems are solved). It was a major breakthrough, the most relevant of them all, and since then there was no way back.

3) Yoga.

I restarted doing yoga. I had done it before, but kinda dropped it after moving to Belgium and didn't realize how much it could help. But I resumed it slowly when I decided to take back control of my life. It's a meditative yoga, but I won't say more (no publicity :p - you can PM if curious).

Through that, I also got involved in some cultural / personal development projects and thematic children camps which were also quite fulfilling, adding sense to life, because I played a notable role in making a big difference to a lot of people as on-the-side activity (didn't need to quit my job). It will sound cheesy, but it's a bit of an "It's a Wonderful Life" story (if you know the 1946 film): 12 years ago I wished many times I was dead, craving the relief. Looking back now, I see I've made a difference in the life of over 500 children and perhaps as many adults (directly involved in those projects, or the parents of those children), that I have little reason to still be depressed about life. I still have personal failures to cope with, but plenty of positives to counter-balance.

4) Visiting a psychologist.

After I made the list at point 2, the relief and subsequent changes were so big, I actually didn't feel the need of visiting the psychologist anymore. And I didn't go for a while. I actually called ones when I had a problem at work, and I got a useless guy on my phone saying I should sort it out with my manager, or go to a doctor and ask for some weeks off to prevent burn-out (you'd be surprised how reluctant some Belgian doctors are to give that to a foreigner... treating you as a potential slacker who just wants some time off on tax payer's money, because you're too lazy to do your job). The next time I felt again I things got tensed with management because they didn't believe me about something, and I was seeking communication advice, I got a better guy who invited me over to talk, and had me open up about all my problems... Somehow he didn't help me with my work problem (maybe he wasn't good in that), but he kept digging into my marital problems. I had sort of found a balance there, but there were still issues and frustrations. It took 3 (of the 5 free) sessions to list my problems... probably 2 of the 3 being spent on personal or marriage problems and how to tackle them. Then he used the 4th session to meet my wife only, to hear her version of the facts. Then he met us both in the 5th session... and helped us with a little breakthrough in our communication, which helped her see what I meant. IMO it wasn't anything new, but somehow hearing it from a professional, and a Belgian that is, she didn't regard so much as "my Romanian unreasonable request", but the typical compromise proposal people make sometimes in a marriage. We had sorted out some problems ourselves, but this helped as well to take us to the last point...

5) Having a child.

This may not work for all. But if you have a strong desire to have one, and you're partly depressed for not having one... well, this helps. :)

It brought other "issues" with it, like even less time for hobbies and other things I wanted to do in life, including no time to focus on a much needed career change, but there are no regrets. They are just things put on hold who were accomplished later, or might be accomplished later (even if only when I'm on pension). But making a child, if important to you, can't be put on hold forever. And it brings with it the joys many say it brings (to you and those around you).

Well, this is it. I'm not sure if I forgot something. Kudos to those who managed to read through all that. Hope it helped. :) It took some time to write, but if one day it helps at least 1 person, it wasn't wasted time.

Love to all,
Rads! ;)
I'm glad things are working better for you. From your writing (and what @N.M. says), I gather that there were a lot of "cultural" aspects surrounding your depression. This is not to say that it isn't universal. As an example, in Japan the birth rate is noticeably lower than it is in the UK, AUS or US. There are many factors, but one of these is the severe work culture. It is expensive to hire someone to take care of a child. So if you don't want to be a housewife and look after children, you basically cannot have kids. Workaholism is also partly the reason for such a high suicide rate for a developed country where we tend to think the sky is the limit. The ironic thing is that people in Japan are allowed to sleep on the job, because it is expected they will have to get up later to finish anyway. The culture almost defines the people.
It almost seems like there is a "help yourself" mentality from what you describe i.e. you are the sole author of your problems. Nobody else should be invested in you. People then buy that because they are afraid of looking like a burden and failure to others so they let themselves fall behind.

I agree with the fact that sex is not really the key. For some couples, sex life is impaired but there are other underlying problems that affect good sex life which if unresolved can make the sex feel dull and insipid. The classic case of "we should have sex to feel good", rather than "we feel good so we can have sex". The latter far more satisfying than the former.

Speaking of which as you said, spirituality I think can be rather helpful. Here are some talks one of the pastors I know delivered at a church once, dealing with the meaning of life in pleasure and in work. There are a bit of Bible references in there, but mostly it is quite relevant to anybody and I find the perspective quite unique. You might find them interesting.


From the meaning of life in pleasure talk, what really stood out is the importance of having meaningful relationships with people around us. We were never built to operate alone and independently, as much as we crave autonomy. We are at our happiest when we have the company with people who we know we can love and trust to experience life with. Perhaps the greatest regret people have before they die is not about how much money they earned, the job they had, but rather that they did not manage to have meaningful relationships with people close to them, and ended some things on a sour note. It's devastating that some people can spend their whole lives harbouring grudges and never talk to each other again. Conversely, how people know they are respected and loved is when someone chooses to share and spend quality time with them. This is also by far the best way a parent can show they love their child, which shouldn't come as a surprise when one thinks closely about it.
 
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