Is depression always around and why does it play hide and seek?


Is depression always around[1]?

I hope not but I’m afraid it does. That would be my honest answer to that question. At first my depression was always in the forefront of all my days. Everything was grey and every day was the same. Over time I experienced some hours when I felt better. I distinctively remember two mornings when I felt quite good. This was good and also unbelievable. Slowly and step-by-step those periods became longer, when I say slowly I mean over the course of a few months. Then there was a good day! Yeey!

I thought my depression was gone only to have it show up the next day. It felt very dishonest, like it was playing with me. I was not in charge. One big step I could take was to have my mood more stable through medication. It gave me something to cling on.

After some more time, I’ve realized that I could actually do something when the more bad days appeared. I’m still figuring out why they happen and if there is even a ‘why’ to discover. My guess would be that an internal battle takes a lot of resources. Then I need to be very careful to determine what that battle enhances; is it useless rumination or am I working through my past emotions? Internal work is also work.

Does depression play hide and seek?

I thought so but now I’m more inclined to say that the intensity of depression seems to vary. At first I was happy that it seemed like it was ‘gone’ but I was also disappointed when it came ‘back’. It is easier to handle when I think about it in more and less difficult days. For me it is a more hopeful perspective. My resilience is still quite low and energy isn’t present in abundance. When I take good care of myself and life isn’t too complicated I feel less depressed. Those are moments I can build on and try to enjoy to ‘the fullest’ possible.

How my bad days look like.

My biggest symptoms and thé red flags to notice are when  …

  • I feel tired and my legs start hurting. It becomes difficult to freely move around.

  • I notice changes in my sleeping pattern. Waking up too early, move heavily in my sleep, feeling tensed when going to bed or utterly exhausted.

  • My brain closes. It’s difficult to think straight, to come up with words or to answer (simple) questions.

  • Just thinking about what I ought to be doing makes my eyelids to become heavy. The more tired I become, the more irritable I am. It’s key to avoid ‘explosion mode’ but that also takes some will power or energy.
  • I feel overall more tense, thinking ‘I feel bad’ over and over again.

Do you notice changes when depression is more present? Do you think the risk of a relapse (or a more intense bout of depression) is always possible or can someone fully recover and live life without a care in the world?

Notes and references.

[1] I write about my experiences with my depression. As there are different forms of depression with different causes, this may look very different for you.

Online article ‘Depression shifts in intensity and bad brain days happen.’

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14 thoughts on “Is depression always around and why does it play hide and seek?

  1. I had a period of many years when the depression was a constant daily phenomenon. Then I started to experience periods of remission for some months, mixed with periods of depression. I still feel very depressed for some time every day (usually in the mornings), and still sometimes have to take a mental health day every so often. However, I am able to do quite a few things during the day most days now, even if it is not like working a nine to five job plus having family and social commitments, which is what I think of as a “full” life.

    I think activity helps. Once I can start doing things that can push the depression away, although events during the day (usually things I see or read or hear) can trigger it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve always wondered how people manage to live such a ‘full’ life. As you mentioned working, having a family and social commitments. I’ve never been able to do that. I always needed a ‘break’ and to have some time off. I pushed myself but that didn’t get me very far.
      As I understand your comment well, it takes really a long time to recover and to be able to ‘push’ the depression a way for a bit.
      I think it’s something to have moments during the day to do something or to enjoy yourself a little. Even when the depression is easily triggered.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think for some fortunate people Kacha, they recover forever. But sadly for someone people, it’s an ongoing struggle, with or without medication and with or without therapy.

    I have all the interventions ever designed to overcome mental illness in my ‘toolbox’ but still, it comes, sneaking up on me, catching me unawares. I use all the techniques I know to work yet the depression returns, well — whenever it wants to. It seems I have little or no control over it. Really, I should be happy with my life!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your comment. You tell it like it is. I don’t know where my journey will lead me but I have the feeling I’ve lived so long with this illness prior to being diagnosed that I really start to wonder.
      I understand some of the tools too, I don’t have so many (yet!) but I’m collecting them in my toolbox.
      Still sometimes I feel in control and some days there is no going around the depressed state. It’s there, like a concrete block that arrives and it won’t budge!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I get it Kacha and you’re right, sometimes it just won’t budge! And I guess you feel the same, I’m tired of having to keep trying. Sometime, I can’t even be bothered to get out my toolbox let alone dig around in it to find something suitable to alleviate the onslaught of negative thoughts and feelings. That might sound terrible, but it is what it is 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh those days, periods in time are terrible! Nothing seems to help at days like this. I try to let it go then and to let it be because it’s too exhausting even to try one thing. I always hope those days will vanish into nothingness and that they will leave me unharmed.
        I hope some ray of light may come your way; even a crack in the darkness can be enough to give a little hope.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My impression is that most mental health issues are slippery things, and depression is so heavy I’m not surprised it’s hard to lift off that weight. It’s good that you’re identifying warning signs. They can help you prepare for the next battle, though I’m sure you’d prefer it if depression would give you a longer vacation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That feels like a dream, if I could have some time off! It’s always one day at the time but I’m sure better times are ahead of me. My stubbornness works with me this time but it also makes it harder to accept things as they are. Thank you for reading and commenting, it means a lot to me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘I hope not but I’m afraid it does’ is such a good way of putting it. When I first got diagnosed, my doctor said most people my age can recover in 6 months, but my university tutor said ‘it’s not like a broken leg… you’re never going to be fully better’ (useful comment, I know!). Anyway, here I am nearly 4 years later and most days I am functional now, and can even feel happiness, but every two weeks or so I get depressed again, sometimes for a day, sometimes longer, and in those times it feels like I’m always depressed, just below the surface. But I think you’re right, whether it goes away or not, the intensity definitely varies and I suppose that’s something we can be glad about! Some days will be better than others 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your useful comment. I guess recovery is as individual as the illness itself. To put standards on it, is very difficult and can be misleading. To recover in 6 months is maybe what my government would like to see but it isn’t always going to be realistic. My doctor still believes in full recovery for me (what ever that may look like) but he said that the longer I was in that situation of being depressed, the longer it would take me to recover.
      I’m glad to read that you feel better, 4 years, it seems like such a long time. Still I hope that the changes we make, can be stable somehow. Like you said you are functional and can feel happiness. I feel like my mood doesn’t swing that much (not in extremes anyway) and my thoughts are not so dark anymore. But it takes a lot of work and self-managing to stay on top.
      I wish you well on your journey and thank you for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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