Have you ever had immediate divine help?

Female, born in 1958, Dipl.-Ing-öec., Married, self-employed as a publicist and office manager for income tax assistance

“At the beginning of 1996 I realized that something was wrong with me. Insomnia, pain everywhere, the day crumpled up like an old newspaper. All I knew was that I had to see a doctor. He was quite young and had just taken over the practice. He prescribed me medication, and the clinic assistant advised me to walk a lot. I wasn't told my diagnosis. I found out about this from the package insert. Me and depression? The doc must have been wrong!

He didn't. A few looks in books confirmed: I was depressed. I could feel it physically, the veins burned, the nerve endings literally fidgeted around and nothing put an end to this spooky.

What to do! The kids were 12 and 17 years old, we had just started building a house! Nothing worked, and the worst: I couldn't think anymore! I didn't want any of that, I stamped my feet, looking for a way out. - Then I read the sentence: Patients who are conscious of the disease recover much better.

Immediately I became aware of illness. I started looking into the subject. As far as it was possible in this state.

My doctor had found an extra medication so that I could finally fall asleep again, but he also promised me to be admitted to the clinic if we couldn't make it that way.

I remembered the words of the office hours assistant and ran and ran and ran. And sweated and showered three times a day because the smell was unbearable. The work on the construction site brought relief. Exercising your shoulder girdle, sweating, rummaging around in the dirt, exhausting yourself physically, thinking nothing at first ...

There wasn't as much literature as there is now. I read what I could get and talked about my illness. With anyone who wanted to hear it. You had to explain it to the children, to the partner. My mother was very important to me during this time. She knew depression from old doctor books and she kept saying only one sentence: “It will heal again. Have patience girl, it will take time. "

I searched almost obsessively for sparks that suggested things were finally getting better. The doctor had meanwhile dared to tell me that I had a "mental illness". I have to change something in my life. OK. - So cause research.

I made statistics of which event led to which dark cloud in the brain, what I had to do to make it better - alone, I found NOTHING.

At some point I let go and noticed that I was feeling better with a certain scent, the orange of the marigold, in a word someone said to me. I expanded that. The highs and lows drew apart, the holes weren't so terrifying anymore.

Several attempts to lower the dose of antidepressant drugs have failed. - But I had found the cause of my illness: metabolism! Simply too few transmitters! - So I'll keep taking the medication.

Since then I have lived stable and secure and at every class reunion I get confirmation that my personality has not changed at all. "

Christoph, male, 29 years

Key data

I am 29 years old (born 1990 in Fürth), happily married and live with my wife Selina and two bunnies Lizzy and Johsy in Altleiningen (Palatinate). From dream carpenter, to bank clerk, to theologian, I work today as a coach & consultant. I grew up in Fürth (Middle Franconia) with my mother and my older sister. My parents separated when I was four years old. My hobbies are running, soccer, mountaineering and all kinds of exercise in the fresh air. I enjoy good wine, Franconian beer and a pipe every now and then. I like this fragrance :) I am a creative person who always has new ideas, loves adventure and likes to try new things. I've lived with depression since I was 12. But she wasn't diagnosed until she was 22 years old. Here is my story.


That's how it started

I was 22 years old. I sat at the end of the bed, shoulders slumped, withdrawn, thoughtful and tense inside. Two more beds around me, a table in the middle and three chairs around the table. A nurse, a therapist and the senior doctor sat on the chairs. It was time for the weekly rounds again. It was actually only my second visit, but I will not forget the words of the senior physician to this day: "You have severe depression". . . Remain silent . . . Palpitations. . . Inner resistance: “Really now, not me, other people have depression, but not me, that can't be?”.


First step: accept it

It was summer 2012. I had a four week vacation. My second year of training at the Kirchberg Bible School was behind me. I was studying theology and wanted to be a pastor. For two years now, I had noticed that something was wrong with me. I had a severe headache, lay awake all night, my mind was circling, and my body was heavy as lead. But the doctors didn't really find anything, all blood values ​​were OK. In pastoral classes there was a lot of homework, whereby we should reflect on ourselves (our family of origin, our relationships, our emotional world, etc.). I knew about my difficult past, traumatic experiences in childhood and the current challenges in relationships. I felt exhausted, on the outside I looked strong and determined, but inside I was totally torn, lonely and empty. I felt misunderstood by God and the world. It was like a fist that constantly clasped my heart, and I longed to be alone, not to feel any more of the tormenting feelings. I tried to avoid questions about how I was doing. I couldn't describe why I'm not doing well. At least not describe it in such a way that anyone could understand. When people got too close to me, I became aggressive, especially challenging my relationship with my partner. I longed for closeness, understanding and love, but I couldn't allow it or feel it. During this time, I felt very guilty about my partner when I said I needed my rest. I couldn't explain it. I was always afraid of breaking down. As soon as I woke up, I was overcome with fears when I thought about the day. I was very restless and tense. There was something wrong with me. I wanted to use the summer vacation to take a closer look at the Hohemark psychosomatic clinic. I also got a place very quickly. My plan was: work intensively on the past in four to six weeks and go out again at least halfway healthy and continue studying theology. But it turned out differently than planned.

I secretly knew that I had been carrying something like depression for many years. Since I was 12 years old I didn't know feelings like sadness and joy anymore (today I can feel joy again and also cry and there are incredibly good feelings J). I have often thought of killing myself because I could no longer stand these heavy feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, joylessness. But it always went on somehow. I had my strategies for avoiding depression when I was young. One strategy was competitive sport. I was a middle-distance runner, sometimes exercising 12 times a week, adhering to a strict meal plan until I finally collapsed at six feet, 56 kilograms and a resting heart rate of 37. The result was 1.5 years of Pfeiffer's glandular fever, intestinal inflammation and hospital stays. The real illness was depression, still waiting to be seen. I just didn't want to admit that I was depressed. My father was manic-depressed and committed suicide when I was 12 years old. Both of my uncles are depressed. It has now also been diagnosed in my sister and one of my cousins. One can therefore speak of a genetic disposition without further ado.

I kept the disease away from me for a long time. I've always been the strong one, the one who masters everything myself, the perfect role model son. Always there for my mother in her rheumatism illness and her nervous breakdowns. Always there for my older sister, who suffered from an eating disorder and washing compulsions very early on. But somehow I knew: "What the senior doctor said that morning is absolutely correct and has 100% to do with me." It took a few days before I made friends with this diagnosis and was ready for it, the depression to look in the eye. In a few days, to be honest, I am still in the process of embracing depression as part of my life with love and compassion. At that time I was so far that I said YES to the path, to get help and to look at the depression. I put my theology studies on hold for the time being. Fourteen weeks of inpatient stay, four weeks of day clinic and then six years of psychotherapy. In addition, of course, the treatment with tablets. Because you can't do without pills. And I am also strong-willed: “I can do it without pills”, that's my inner attitude. But in order to stay in the clinic and take the path of treatment, I had to get involved with antidepressants. I reluctantly took the pills, but confided in the doctors. They have experience and know what they are doing. What else could I do? I didn't want to go back. I wanted to get well.


Second step: answer it

Tablets

When I was in the clinic, I started taking the drug Trevilor (also known as venlafaxine). I took it quite well, although I definitely hoped for more of it. I was told that with it I would be more energetic, feel more joy and see life more positively again. But somehow I didn't feel that even after eight weeks. So the drug dose was increased. I was discharged with 225 mg. Over the next three years the drug was increased to 300mg and the drug Elontril was added with increases of up to 300mg. 600mg of antidepressants every day, that's a lot. In the meantime, in addition to outpatient talk therapy, I have been to two different psychiatrists. Everywhere the same: “How are you?” - “Not yet better, still without drive. I feel empty, lonely and hopeless. Don't we want to try other drugs? ”-“ No, your drugs are very good and the side effects are still bearable. We increase the medication. It's getting better. ”What should I do but trust the doctors? But instead of a significant improvement, the side effects got stronger and stronger. It was often not easy, but there were also situations that I can laugh about today (humor is an important resource with which I face depression today). Two examples at this point: A police officer once asked at the police control: “Do you take drugs? You have extremely large pupils. ”-“ No, that's just the antidepressants and so I can see them better J. ”And once the urge to urinate was suddenly so strong that I pissed my pants while driving, oh that was embarrassing J.

In 2015 my wife and I moved and I was joining a new psychiatrist. This man knew. He previously worked in research. He carried out the ABCB1 and Stada Diagnostik Antidepressants test with me. It turned out that for the past four years I had been taking tablets that had nothing but side effects. The following came out: My metabolism is so high that all drugs that are metabolized by the liver do not even reach the blood. The other reason is a protein called glycoprotein that is active in me. It's basically a good as it ensures that foreign substances are expelled from the body. But not so well in my case, because the antidepressants that my body identified as foreign substances did not reach the brain. This is also referred to as the blood-brain barrier, which in my case does not allow the active substance of the medication to get into the brain. According to my psychiatrist, this combination (metabolism and glycoprotein) is a rare case, and I am something of a beacon in depression research because 20 years ago I could not have been helped (that flatters me of course J). As a result, my medication venlafaxine and Elontril were tapered off. New drugs were prepared. Milnaneurax: A drug from Japan that is broken down through the kidneys and thus bypasses my increased metabolism. And a combination of drugs: fluoxetine, a very old drug among the antidepressants, and mirtazapine, which is used to bypass the blood-brain barrier. And I have to say, I'm doing very well with that, and I finally feel that medication is doing something. And the drugs not only have side effects, but also have advantages. Mirtazapine, a drug that I take in the evening before bed, works so well that after 30 minutes I can fall asleep immediately and anywhere (this is especially good on long flights. My wife is very jealous that I was so deep and can sleep soundly seated while awake on the plane all night J). Thanks to this psychiatrist, I found a drug combination that really gives me drive. Sure, there are always days, especially when trying to take medication, when I think: “So many pills that you swallow every week, that must be harmful to your body in the long run and doesn't it affect your desire to have children?” But according to mine Psychiatrists, these drugs are long-term tested and with no proven consequential damage or impairment on fertility. Presumably, given my genetic disposition, I have to take it for a lifetime, which I find difficult to accept at times. But depression is just a disease and, like with hypothyroidism, medication is absolutely important here and significantly increases the quality of life. And I trust that and continue on my path with medication.

psychotherapy

Depression is a serious illness. Medication is very supportive, but not a cure-all. Good psychotherapy is required, coupled with complementary healing methods. I've had over 100 sessions of talk therapy in five years. Since I've moved twice, also three different psychotherapists. In addition to coming to terms with my injuries in childhood, it was about taking good care of myself, organizing my everyday life, recognizing early warning signals and counteracting the black hole at an early stage. The value of psychotherapy for me lay in the fact that I regularly had a place where it was about me. A place where I engage with myself and are people who listen carefully to me. It was a good time because I took care of myself. Yes, there were also many hours after which I went out and thought, what did that bring now? I already know everything he's telling me. Or days when I didn't feel like going back to the therapist. But all in all, I look back gratefully that I took advantage of this help, because it gave me stability in everyday life and helped me to stay tuned.


Third step: stay tuned

It's another day in the home office. Mails, accounts and preparation of the next sermon for Sunday. Not always easy for me. Get up yourself, organize yourself and be alone at home all day. I notice that the depression wants to come over me again on days like this. Feelings of emptiness, inner restlessness, listlessness, senselessness spread there. I want to fold the covers over my head and sleep. But I know if I do that it won't get any better. So I kick my butt, slip on my running shoes, put music on my ear and head out into the woods. Anyone who is depressed has to kick their ass. One form that helps me with this is running. The fresh air, the exercise, to have achieved something in the end, fills me with satisfaction and I also pour out a lot of the great happiness hormones. In addition to running, it's good for me to keep talking to people about how I'm doing with my depression. It is important for me to keep myself up to date about my illness, to read articles on the topic, etc. For me, staying tuned also means, if I fail again and stay in bed, turning around myself, out of the spiral of the Feelings of guilt do not come out and feel sorry for myself, so if I do not come out of the hole again, I will not put myself down, but say: "Ok, it's like this, I assume it, tomorrow is a new day." Here applies to the saying: “Fall down, get up, straighten the crown, walk on.” For me, depression is an illness that I can live with today because I am behind the wheel and not depression is at the wheel of my life. I look at the depression. I do not reject them, I accept them and take good care of them. Tomorrow I'll go to the sauna with her again.The warmth and relaxation will do her good after a busy week. And it is valuable to me when people like my great wife encourage me: "You are doing well with your illness, I am proud of you."


Fourth step: believe in it

For so many years I have not believed that anything will change. I had such a longing for death. It was all just hard for me. Always physically tense and a soul that cries and screams. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. But there is a light. Today I encourage people that there is hope and that depression is a disease that men and women can live with. I have experienced it myself. There is always hope, even if we don't feel it at the moment, even if we haven't felt it for years.

I'm christ. I believe that God can do miracles. However, I have also seen that God does not act as I would like. And that sometimes it is really difficult to believe that God answers prayers. How many times have I prayed for recovery and health? But God is not a dream machine that I press on top and what I want comes out below. For me God is much more, incomprehensible, unavailable and great. But above all for me it is: love. And his love, his ways and his thoughts about my life are so much bigger, better and further than I will ever understand. I trust this anew every day. That also carried me through the depression. God knows what he's doing, I've often said to myself. I don't do anything, just trust that He is there. My baptismal verse is: "But to those who love God, all things will serve for the best" (Romans 8:28). Today I am grateful that I have this disease, it made me who I am (I know that is a steep sentence and I can only say that for myself in retrospect). I am grateful that God didn't take my illness away with the snap of a finger. And there is power in depression. There are people who have the strength every day to cope with these unspeakably difficult emotional states. People who go on and don't give up, despite great emotional hardship. Everyone with depression is incredibly strong. And I believe that we are not simply depressed people who are hopelessly exposed to the disease. I believe that every person with depression is unique and there is great power in them for this world. I believe that many depressed people have an important message for this world, and I would like to encourage people to experience just that again: the potential that lies in them, also and especially in illness.

outlook

I know that these difficult, gray days, weeks and months will come again and again. But I also know that every day I manage makes me stronger, shapes me and moves me forward. I embrace depression as a precious part of my life that makes me who I am. And today, thanks to pills, psychotherapy, coaching, running, friendships and my wife, I can feel joy again, cry and enjoy the sunny days of life. It's good to feel alive.

Christoph

Elfriede, female, 62 years

introduction

“For many years I didn't know what depression really was until I was first hit in 1993. I was 55 years old at the time. Since then I have had three major episodes of depression.

  1. Oct 04, 1993 - May 02, 1994
  2. Jan. 01, 1996 - Aug. 11, 1996
  3. March 24, 1999 - July 19, 1999

During these times I have learned to understand many pictures from fairy tales and new pictures have also emerged in me.

I soon noticed that you can talk about any disease, a heart attack, cancer, even AIDS. But there is a veil over the depression. It was only when I began to talk to friends and relatives about my illness, to confess to it, that I noticed how many people or their relatives had similar experiences with the illness or even talked about a suicide in their environment.

It is my intention to lift the veil, to look underneath, not from a technical point of view, but to report as a victim how I fared, how I got over my depression.

I want to convey that depression is a normal illness, however abnormal it may feel.

Everyone has their own personality and is different from everyone else. I believe that each depression is different, although there are many common characteristics. I can only speak of my depressive phases, only report how I suffered but also lived through them. The triggers for the various phases were different and so were the further course.


Triggers my depression

I can only classify my first depression as such in retrospect. I knew little about the disease, I just felt miserable. Today I would say that massive loss experiences were the trigger. The separation from my husband was very painful for me. I moved from my previous common place of residence to close to my place of work. For many years I had a very friendly and good relationship with my employer and his family. Two months after I moved, my boss suddenly passed away, and his young son died a month later. After four months the company was closed and I was unemployed for the first time in my life, which, in addition to the financial loss, meant a flaw for me. At the employment office I was told that at my age I was “difficult to place”. Then the octopus grabbed it for the first time. I will describe who the octopus is later.

As a trigger for the second depression I would call "excessive demands". I tend to overwhelm myself, want to do everything perfectly and well, my having to be able to do everything and to create everything.

A year after the first depression, I decided to study and at the same time I got an ABM part-time position from the employment office when I was accepted. I thought I could do that too. In the morning lectures, in the afternoon office work, in the evenings, on weekends and during the holidays I took care of 3,000 square meters of garden and prepared myself for exams. During the Christmas holidays, the bad feeling I was already familiar with started again. This time it took seven months, 5 weeks of which were hospital stays and I had to interrupt my studies.

After the depression was over, I was able to resume my studies in order to gain more practical experience.

At first I couldn't see a trigger for the third episode. But if there is such a thing as "relief depression" it was. The ABM position had expired, the course ended with very good success and a diploma. At the beginning of March 1999 the certificate was awarded, happy and proud (after all, I had become a grandmother in the meantime) I held my diploma in my hands until the depression took over on March 24th.

It may be surprising that I can tell the times of my depression so precisely. But for me it never came slowly and never stopped slowly. I can say exactly to the day, “It's that time again” or “It's gone now”. It's like a light switch that's either on or off. I never have "a little bit of depression" or am "a little bit healthy." This is not the case with other fellow patients. But one woman was able to state it even more precisely than I could. She told me that it happened to her "while she was making pancakes." It was Isn't that funny? As sad as one is in depression and as little as there is to laugh, sometimes there are such little pancake smack stories.

I'm not even sure if it really was the "trigger". In retrospect, something can always be found that can be described as a trigger. There are sad and joyful events in every résumé. Does the depression come, especially if it is also a metabolic disorder, even without a special reason, while baking pancakes, so to speak? The question also remains unanswered as to why some people react to severe strokes of fate with depression and others do not.


Signs of my depression

The trigger and course of depression may be different, but in private conversations and in the clinic I have learned that I am not alone with my symptoms. Most of the patients were familiar with the same.

For me, "it" starts with a feeling that suddenly everything is different. It pulls the floor from under my feet. I am not a fearful person, I know what I want, I usually sleep well, like to eat and enjoy nature a lot. Everything is different in depression.

Fear creeps up my back, I can no longer decide on anything, I have difficulty concentrating, I have trouble sleeping, I am loss of appetite, nothing gives me more pleasure, yes, I am unable to take care of small things and in the end I can no longer take care of myself. There are also physical symptoms.

It looks like this in detail:

anxiety
This fear is very diffuse. I'm not afraid of anything specific, but it's always there. Clouds and wind are frightening, or a tape of a construction site barrier that moves in the wind. I would love to pull the blanket over me and protect myself.

Inability to make decisions
For example, it happened that I resolved to buy bread. It was an effort to even go to the bakery. Then I stood in the shop and let everyone in front of me. What kind of bread should I take? Rye or sunflower seed bread, wheat or mixed bread? My God, what am I going to take, it's my turn in a minute. But before it was that far, I pushed myself out through the shop door. I couldn't make up my mind.

sleep disorders
The first few days in the depression I wake up very early and can no longer fall asleep. This increases until, for example, I go to sleep at 11 p.m. and wake up at 1 a.m. When I'm healthy, I don't have any trouble sleeping. I sleep through the night and even if I can't sleep well after drinking too much black tea in the evening, I take a book at night and read until I fall asleep again. Not so in depression. Not being able to sleep becomes a torture. The fears are huge. Everything is so bad that you think you can't take it anymore. You can't read, it's all pointless anyway. Something helped me: get up and write. But sometimes that didn't work either.

Morning low
The night is bad, but then the morning comes. Ruthless. My god, another day. How do I get through it? The best thing to do is stay in bed. But I soon realized that this was worse, at least for me. But it takes tremendous strength to get up. There is nothing to look forward to. Why live at all? Everything is so troublesome.

In the morning the prospect of the evening helped me. In the evening I always got a little better. "When the sun goes down, so does the depression". I felt that too. In the evening around 5:00 p.m. to midnight was my best time; so good that sometimes I thought it was over now. In the morning, i.e. mostly during the night, I was taught better - i.e. worse.

Loss of appetite
I like to cook and like to eat and I enjoy it. That's how it is when I'm healthy. Nothing of this can be seen in the disease. I can't shop, I can't cook, I don't like to eat. Yes, I have to force myself to drink. Once I made tea with difficulty. Then there was the cup in front of me. But why should I drink it? I don't like anything anymore, I don't need anything anymore. And if I starve and die of thirst, then it's finally over. No healthy person can understand these thoughts, and in retrospect they also seem strange to me. And yet I still remember that I poured the cup of tea into the sink back then.

What a grace and a gift to have family or friends at such times. For me it was a dear friend whom I was allowed to come to for breakfast, at noon and in the evening. I ate little, but starvation has less chance in a community. At the beginning of the depression I always lost several kilos, but my appetite and thus the weight come back quickly after the illness.

The gray glasses
Just as lovers see everything through pink glasses, the glasses of the depressed are gray. I only saw the beautiful flowers in the garden as a burden, the weeds seemed to grow over my head. I hated sunny days because I couldn't complain about the bad weather. The destruction of the environment and the Whitsun flood in 1999 assumed catastrophic proportions and threatened me personally without any direct cause. I didn't care about the most beautiful landscapes. No joy, no lust for life that I usually like so much.

Inability to cope with everyday life
It started early in the morning. Tormented out of bed and into the bathroom, I found myself sitting on the edge of the bathtub with my head drooping, intending to brush my teeth. Everyday life and routine for every healthy person. I lacked any drive. Nothing worked by itself anymore. I had to command my hands from my head: "Take the toothbrush cup in your hand, turn the tap on, take the toothbrush, the toothpaste" ... and so on. It's hard to imagine, but it was like that. The morning toilet procedure was so exhausting that I was powerless and tired again afterwards. Now just don't give in and don't lie down. Dear God, let it be evening.

Feelings of failure
I feel small and stupid in depression. I can't do anything and am not worth anything. When someone reminds me of my good reports, I honestly say it was a mistake. 20 professors were more likely to be mistaken than to believe that I can do something.

Feelings of guilt
I feel guilty about depression in that I think I am ungrateful. Instead of complaining because I am so bad, I should actually be happy that I have no worries and that I live in so many happy external circumstances. But I don't succeed in the joy, which in turn makes me feel guilty. "Your own fault for the depression."

Physical complaints
I am very healthy physically and I never actually have any pain. In depression they appear, violently and in different places. I feel a lot of pressure in my head and ears. My chest feels tight, as if an iron tire had pulled around it. It really hurts in the stomach area, as if I had been punched in by a boxer. These symptoms were especially bad in the first month of depression and then subsided in the clinic. A very strong tremor in the hands that did not disappear until the depression was over has not subsided. I also found it difficult to concentrate or read a book.


A feast in psychiatry

Doesn't that have to be a big question mark? Can sick people, unable to rejoice, have a party? And if they can, aren't they able to cope with their everyday lives again, are they able to work again?

The nurses assured them that they could not remember that something like this was ever possible and that what was special was that it had been started and carried out by the patients.

A young fellow patient gave me the idea. He complained that we were all so isolated, that we were all sitting in our bells and that we wouldn't do anything together. He had brought his guitar to the clinic and on days when he felt a little better he would practice on his instrument. Having music would be an essential part of a festival. At one of the weekly station meetings, I solicited fellow campaigners. But the only answer I got was: "I'm so bad, I can't."

So I tried it in one-on-one conversations and managed to get five patients together who dared to sing together. One person doing community service voluntarily stayed longer and supported the group with his powerful voice.

Two women, one of them shortly before discharge, agreed to buy something for the party in the supermarket near the clinic. Someone took over to collect two marks from each patient for it. Some gave more and so there was plenty of good juices and snacks to buy.

I talked to the gardener and he cut me Buchs for decoration. A patient's husband brought roses for the table decorations. In the garden, I stole five white blossoms from a Japanese flower dogwood. It looked lovely between green box and red roses. The sisters provided tablecloths and turned the formica tables into a fine restaurant with candles. It looked really very posh. A very sick young woman, who hardly spoke to anyone and did not want to take part in the party, suddenly remembered that she could fold napkins into little swans and soon several patients were sitting at her table and she was giving instructions on how to do it .

The group of singers was now diligently practicing the lyrics that I had typed with very shaky hands on the clinic computer. I was most impressed by the activities on the ward. On the day of the festival everyone was transformed. Women washed their hair and put in curlers.Some asked the nurse for an iron to iron on a skirt. Men swapped their comfortable tracksuits for fresh shirts and neat pants. The usual lethargy had given way to unfamiliar activity.

It was neither a long nor a lavish festival. But it was very special.

Almost all of the patients took part. Three of the doctors on duty and a few nurses sat down.

The young man played Irish folk with his guitar and explained the content of the pieces. In posts we poked fun at ourselves, our illness and everyday hospital life. But also a poem, the "Mondnacht" by Eichendorff, met the wish of many sick listeners:

“... and my soul tensed
Spread her wings
Flew through the still lands
As if she was flying home. "

There we sat with our souls-wings wet and longed for home.

It was good that the “Medicinal Rap” and the “Tavor Song” made for amusement again.

Nursery rhymes and counting verses have been repositioned to suit our situation.

"Ene mene miste,
what's rattling in the box.
What's rattling in my head
the depression has got me by my head.
I pull myself out again -
and she is A U S. "

Yes, if it were that easy. But something very unusual had happened: in the depression ward of a psychiatric clinic, people clapped and laughed.


Pictures of my depression

From the point of view of the article, heart attack is male and depression is female. I know women can have heart attacks and men can be depressed. But when I talk about my depression I say, "It's back" or "It's going to knock me over". It has intruded me so deeply that I can't talk about it neutrally. It is as if something had fallen over me that made me incapable of acting. My self is veiled, a solar eclipse is an image for it. Something is pushed in front of me, impenetrable, that takes the light from me. The darkness is scary. Who is this "IT" that reaches out to me like a dangerous animal and yet remains intangible itself?

This "IT" got the image of an octopus for me. According to the dictionary, the octopus is a “big squid” and male, but for me it was “THE KRAKE”.

The octopus
My depressions have always been very severe.
Therefore this picture does not have to apply to other sick people. But it helped me to have something in mind that I could deal with more than a Latin term for a disease. I didn't feel quite so at the mercy of myself since the "ES" had a name.

The description of this octopus is terrible, but so is depression. To avoid misunderstandings: I have never actually seen this octopus, nor imagined its existence, but it is just a picture with which I can describe the worst phases of my depression.

she comes
Just as fear crept up my back, the octopus crept closer. Until I saw her, one day up at the ceiling above my bed, she was staring at me to strike in the morning hours. In my diary she is described as follows: “She has long purple tentacles with suction cups, she reaches out to me and clasps me. She sucks me off. I can hardly breathe. She injects her poison into me, which makes me unable to move. But I manage to escape it by getting up. When I am in an upright position, she cannot grab me like that, she just grabs me "by the head". I am not allowed to lie down during the day, no matter how strong the desire may be, because then she has a lot of attack surface again. I don't offer this to her, instead I go for a walk. The octopus naturally sneaks after me. But I've noticed I can run away from her sometimes. To do this, I have to go very quickly, then she won't catch up with me. I am exhausted then, but I shook the monster off for a few hours.

Sometimes I fight with her at night. I already cut off one of her tentacles. But unfortunately it had grown back in the morning. ”So much for my diary excerpt.
I haven't spoken about this octopus for a long time because I feared it would scare others. Now that I'm healthy, I find it quite a horror picture too. But that’s what depression is like: a horror, hell.

During occupational therapy in the clinic, I then painted my octopus: a head with large eyes and long, red-purple tentacles with suction cups that reach out to me. In the picture I am lying in bed rather small and helpless. But a small rainbow arches over my head like a protective shield, a glimmer of hope that the octopus cannot completely destroy me. On the other side of the picture is a sun, which I mostly painted, somehow the sun never completely set. And then there is also a calendar, a daily tear-off calendar. But the day and month are illegible. No girlfriend, no doctor can tell you when you will be healthy. The calendar is still pretty thick and expresses my wish to have many more healthy days this year. This actually happened, in July I got well. A colorful butterfly also flies over the picture, it probably means the hope for transformation. The division is such that the mighty oversized octopus fills one half, the sun, calendar and butterfly a quarter of the leaf. On the “sunny side” below you can see a piece of lake where I live.

I am now anticipating, but I do not want to leave this octopus part as it is.

she goes
During my hospital stay in 1999 I had discussions with a psychologist. I was able to describe the octopus to her without frightening her. One Monday she brought me a book on marine animals from home. In it she showed me a picture of a swimming squid, an octopus. A marine animal that moves almost elegantly in the water, pulling its tentacles behind it like a veil. A completely new picture of my octopus.

I then paint a new picture. A lake (closer to me than the sea) with high waves. An octopus, similar to the one in the picture in the book, swims in the water and swims away from me. I stand on the bank and wave after her. My cat is standing next to me. A rainbow arches in the sky. This time very big. In front of it a flock of wild geese flying in a beautiful formation. Dark clouds can still be seen behind the rainbow. A rainbow can only exist after rain.


In my explanation of the picture I was aware of the biblical aspect. On the one hand the rainbow as reconciliation and healing. But also the order of genisis. Everything has its place, its place. The birds in the sky, the people and land animals on land, the marine animals in the water. To the octopus I say in the picture: “You visited me, now get out of here. You belong in the water and I belong on land. Swim away, I'll be waving to you. "

Soon after I had painted the picture, I was released from the clinic and went back "ashore". It's not that painting healed me. The time was ripe. The psychologist had the great idea of ​​showing me a different point of view with the book.

I can only speculate. Maybe the depression would have passed that way too. Maybe it was the medication that finally worked. But I would like to ascribe a portion to the picture. At a time when I was still feeling very sick, I painted how it could be if the octopus disease would leave me.

A sentence from the Talmud comes to mind: "Nothing in your life can become reality that you have not dreamed of before."

The pictures are not works of art, they are painted very simply and naively. But they helped me to make my depression vividly, graphically, to understand it a little.


suicide

Tired of life, suicide, suicide, suicide, suicide - behind these lists are the fates of people who express themselves in sober numbers of statistics. For me it is always frightening to read that every year more people die from suicide, i.e. end their own lives, than there are deaths in road accidents.

Of those with depression, 15% commit suicide. So it is true: “You don't die of depression, but it is a life-threatening disease.” It is still far too unknown that it is not just one herb, rather “many herbs” that have grown that could help most sick people. By “herbs” I don't mean Bach flowers, nor that drinking lemon balm or St. John's wort tea can help in the long term; In the case of depression, the medication belongs in the hands of the doctor.

Own thoughts of suicide
I must have met you in my illness, the thoughts like: I can no longer. I can't take it anymore. I'll never get well anyway. I cannot and will not continue to live like this. I didn't have to fetch or construct these thoughts, they came by themselves.

The illness depression is so bad that one believes that it is a solution, a redemption to be dead, to feel nothing. This is how depression differs from other diseases. While one would like to get well again with other illnesses, one only wants to die in depression so that it is finally over.

There were times during my depression when I checked a lot under the aspect of “Is it good to kill me?”: Is the rope thick enough? Does the branch carry me? Is the rock wall high enough, the water deep enough ...?

In order to survive, I controlled a lot from my head, because actually I didn't want to die. Only life was so unbearable. I almost trained. If I stood at a platform and the train pulled in, my program was: “Two steps back (not one step forward). Now no mountain tours, rather hikes in the flatlands. Only go to the shallow shore of the lake, not the jetty that leads into the depths. ”For people who live in the big city, other programs may apply, such as:“ Do not go on the roof of the skyscraper. ”Etc.


Why I didn't kill myself
I didn't want the octopus to win this victory. "You will not take my life from me!"

In reasonably good times I managed to put strategies in place, to find plausible reasons not to “do it”. Most of them have external drives, but that doesn’t affect survival, so to speak.

There is my grandchild. I just found it unfair to include a suicide grandmother in his biography. My friends and family, the doctors and nurses have accompanied me through the depression for so long, I cannot now disappoint them with my suicide.
There was such a thing as a religious imperative, “Only God is Lord of life and death”. That made the decision “should I or shouldn't” for me. It was like a ban “you mustn't do that”, so it is not even an issue and this is very valuable in times of inability to make decisions, especially since it is a matter of life and death.
There was one important reason to survive that I particularly like to mention. He is not without a certain comedy: "If I kill myself now, then I would not experience what it is like when I am well again."

This has its origin in a sentence that a friend kept repeating to me: "Every depression goes away."
It became my most important sentence. After months of torture, I often couldn't believe I would ever get out of there again.


What can family and friends do?

Anyone who has experienced the disease themselves will agree that friends withdraw. This happens for a number of reasons.

For one thing, people in depression are damned exhausting. They often talk a lot and for a long time about themselves and their illness. Everything revolves around the state of mind. Or they say nothing at all. Who can stand that as a listener?

Another reason is a certain helplessness. You want to help and don't know how. There is no calf wrap or good encouragement to alleviate this. Everything seems to go nowhere. Only a few manage to say the right thing, to do. Few good friends have the staying power.

And yet there are very simple things that can make everyday life and illness easier for the depressed person.

Again, I can only tell you about what has helped me.

Most of all, I loved the people who accepted me and my depression. Who did not try to talk me out of the illness (as if depression were a persuasive, imaginary illness). My condition was made even more difficult by well-intentioned advice, which usually began with: “You just have to”, “try it”, “you should”, “you may” and “you must not” and all of them pull together, one kick in the Giving butt, not hanging down, or ending the advice after a vacation trip.

As a rule, I was too weak to resist this advice and the know-it-all.

Practical offers helped me a lot more. Especially in the time before the clinic, e.g. the accompaniment to the doctor, or the help with care, someone who shops for me, invites me to breakfast or a meal.

Despite all help, the helper must not prevent the patient from wanting to be admitted to a clinic. Often the most loving care cannot avoid a hospital stay.

It was a great relief for me that someone drove me to the clinic. My daughter did my laundry during my long stay in the clinic. I'm also grateful to my friend who went to a department store with me when I was in the clinic and helped me buy shoelaces and gymnastic pants. Things as simple as this can become a big problem.

Getting a greeting card or a visit to the clinic is something nice. There is no need for large bouquets of flowers and gifts, it is more important that someone has time and is there. Many visitors fear it and are amazed to find that a mental hospital is not a prison.

It was more difficult for me when visitors came home. My expectations (not necessarily those of the visitors) to have to offer the guests something brought me into great distress, as I could hardly take care of myself.

I found the weekends at home to be very critical for myself. It is part of the clinic's therapeutic concept to discharge patients into their familiar surroundings on Saturdays and Sundays. That is well meant, for me it was terrible. The first time I went back to the clinic on Saturday evening, where I felt I was in good hands. Once I got on the wrong train. At home the initial fears came back. It got a little better when a friend spent those weekends with me. Although it was always difficult for me to go through the hospital gates on Sunday evenings, it was like flying back into a sheltered nest.

It makes a big difference whether you are expected in a family or whether you return to a solitary life, which is managed quite well in a healthy state. Everything is different in depression.

It also helped me to know that there is no harm left from depression. Brain cells don't die there. After the depression subsides, you're as smart or as stupid as you were before. It's like everything was just a bad dream.

And then there is the above mentioned quote from the friend: "I know you are feeling very bad, but I also know that every depression will pass." to get out again.

 


Which helped me overcome depression

The time
That's a factor that I don't want to underestimate. Yes, sometimes I am not so sure that it is not the decisive factor. Every depression takes its time: a few weeks, several months, a year or more. Before this time has passed, the octopus only laughs at medication and psychotherapy. At the end of my three depressive episodes I can say that the medication has helped. But I cannot say whether the disease would not also have disappeared without medication.

Every depression goes away, but you don't know when.

Knowing this and exercising patience can help overcome depression. At first it was very difficult for me and I just couldn't believe it, didn't want to assume that it hit me of all people. But the more I struggled, struggled, fidgeted, the harder it was to grip the octopus. But it is extremely difficult to practice patience and serenity when the whole person is gripped by a restlessness and agitation by the illness.

How good to know: all depression will pass. (You have to say this sentence to yourself over and over again).

Medical treatment
Depression is a serious illness that requires medical attention. You can name the symptoms to the doctor, only then can he see what it is about. It happens again and again that patients only tell something about insomnia and are then prescribed sleeping pills. I am grateful to my family doctor that he was able to classify the clinical picture correctly and that he called me to the practice very often at the beginning, which gave me a certain structure.I then went to a specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy. I was amazed that he knew more about my symptoms than I did. That saved me a long explanation and I felt understood and well looked after. I also agree that he prescribed the right medication for me. Unfortunately, my depression didn't respond to it.

Admission to a clinic
Despite this specialist treatment and loving care from a friend, I felt miserable. I was practically unable to take care of myself, my fears tormented me and the physical discomfort became unbearable. I asked the doctor to refer to the clinic. Strangely enough, this worried outsiders more than I did. With the third depression, I already knew what to expect. It's important to brush aside all stupid jokes and innuendos about psychiatrists and mental hospitals. They are made by people who are not (yet) affected by a mental illness.

We also still have a picture of psychiatry 40 years ago in our head. Much has been done. The clinic I was in has a pretty garden with a watercourse, a gym, a bowling alley, and a lounge with a television set. I know that none of this particularly delighted me and that I did not experience any particular joy. That's just how it is in depression. But I also know that after a few days my bad physical symptoms subsided and I was able to sleep again to some extent.

I felt accepted, taken in, safe, protected, looked after, cared for, understood. Doctors and nurses knew my illness, nobody urged me to do something that I was not able to do.

I was in an "open ward", i.e. I could go from the clinic to the city after consulting the doctor. Overtime. But the city was too turbulent for me, I preferred to go to the garden.

You also save a lot of money in depression. Suddenly you don't need anything anymore.

Fellow patients
I was amazed at how many young women and men suffered from the same disease. You exchange ideas and discover that the same or similar symptoms are present in all of them. People from very different backgrounds, with different professions, are together for different lengths of time. With some you talk more, with others less or not at all. Some are better off, some are worse off. The morning low is the same for everyone. Anyone who looks into the breakfast room in a depression department sees mute figures, sad or rigid, staring ahead. Some cry, most of them can't even do that. But there are the nurses, all of them well and specially trained, who also find time for a conversation and help through the most unbearable hours.

There are doctors who can be reached outside of the daily rounds. Now that I'm sane, I wonder how she can handle the endless complaints and questions, “I'm so bad. When will I get well? When will I get out of there? ”And tried to answer.

The stay in the clinic helped me a lot to persevere, to overcome the depression. I can only say: “Don't be afraid of psychiatry”. It's bad to have depression, but it's not bad to be treated in a clinic.

Medication
The administration of drugs and antidepressants is closely related to the clinic. The prejudices are just around the corner: In the clinic you will be crammed full of drugs and these drugs make you addicted. Nothing is right. Nobody stuffed me or fellow patients. On the contrary: it is dosed very precisely and carefully. It may well be that the first drug has no effect, not even the second. For me there were a few more. It takes a lot of patience and I've thought several times: I can't be helped anymore. It was lithium, after all, that helped me. Or was it the time? I don't know, I don't care either. The main thing is relief from the scourge of depression.

I don't want to give the paragraph “Medicines” a lot of space here, that's a matter for the experts. It is just important to me to point out again that antidepressants are not addictive. You also have to differentiate between side effects. So I blamed the medication for my severe tremors, in reality it came from the depression. So are some of the other symptoms that come from the disease rather than the medication.

In contrast to antidepressants, various sedatives, tranquilizers, so-called benzodiazepines, are very addictive. I've found that drugs like Tavor, Adumbran, or Valium are much easier to prescribe outside of the clinic, while clinicians are more concerned with weaning patients off them. A fellow patient admitted to the clinic with an enormous daily dose of Tavor told me the depression was terrible, but the withdrawal from the drug was worse. She refused to take half a Tavor tablet even on particularly difficult days.

psychotherapy
There are certainly types of depression in which psychotherapy is helpful. I would not have been able to reflect or work on myself at all during the depression. It was all about survival. Following my second episode, I went into depth psychology-oriented psychotherapy, which was very beneficial to me. Choosing a good therapist is very important. The health insurance companies have lists of approved professionals. You don't take any chances here. If necessary, the health insurance company will take care of the treatment.

I don't want to go into the different types of psychotherapy or therapies in general here, this can be found in many books.

Information about the disease
It is and has always been important to me to know what is going on in my body, why can I influence my thinking, feeling and feeling so little during depression, why can I not willingly free myself from this state? What is Depression? Where does it come from and how do I deal with it? I have read everything I could get hold of and felt similar requests for competent information from many fellow patients. There is little specialist literature that can be understood by laypeople. I think it would be helpful if a selection of books, in the form of a handset accessible to all, were available on the wards in clinics.

The most important book for me is still: Overcoming depression. A guide for those affected, relatives and helpers, published by Stiftung Warentest. Here not only the clinical picture of depression is described in different forms, one also learns something about biological connections, therapy options are shown and there is an exact list and description of medication. You will learn how tricyclic antidepressants work and what selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are. Questions are answered about light therapy, partial sleep deprivation or the use of lithium. There is a separate chapter on depression in children and the question "Depression - a woman's disease?" sees doing something to himself.

Michelangelo and the neurotransmitters
He probably didn't even know them, the messenger substances such as serotonin or norepinephrine. But Michelangelo painted the creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. God the Father stretches his arm towards Adam and his finger touches Adam's finger - almost. But there is a gap between these two fingers. An image for the synaptic cleft. Just as the divine spark has to jump over in order to give Adam life to this human being, impulses have to be transmitted between our nerve cells. Only chemical messenger substances, the neurotransmitters, can skip the gap at the end of the individual nerve cells so that communication is correct.

It is now believed that in depression the metabolism in the brain is disturbed to the extent that messenger substances such as serotonin or norepinephrine are not available in the correct amount or are out of balance. The spark cannot jump. Perceiving, acting, feeling, judging, feeling, thinking are no longer correct, communication is disturbed, Adam is not really alive.

It kind of reassured me that the depression had to do with a neurotransmitter metabolism disorder. If I felt a little relieved, I no longer had to be so responsible for the illness. It doesn't even occur to one to say to a diabetic: "Now pull yourself together". Everyone knows that diabetes is a metabolic disorder that can be treated quite well with medication.

Exercise and occupational therapy
The offers in the clinic were plentiful. I found it very difficult to go to the gym at eight in the morning. A time when the mood of depression is more on the ocean floor. But after I had the experience that after exercising I always felt a little better than before, I went back there.

I also took part in many other offers. Not because I would have liked it, no fun, no joke while bowling. But an hour had passed each time and sometimes I even managed to get other thoughts. All in all, I felt the time hadn't been lived, even painful, and was happy for every day I got through.

The program is extensive and there is actually something for everyone. You can choose to do pottery or paint, just like that or in an interactive group.

Support groups
Most of the larger cities have self-help groups for people with depression or for their relatives.

Addresses can be obtained from telephone books, clinics or health authorities. I have too little experience to be able to report on it.

sleep deprivation
One would think that if someone is so sick he should at least have his sleep at night. But sleep is disturbed in depression anyway. It was also found that after the first deep sleep phase, biochemical processes take place in the brain that upset the balance of neurotransmitters.

Pictures from fairy tales
Nights in depression can be terrible. During this time I understood many pictures from fairy tales. The iron hoop around his chest can be found again in the Frog King: Faithful Heinrich was so saddened when his master was turned into a frog that he “had three iron ties put around his heart so that he wouldn't be hurt and sadness shattered ”. When the king was redeemed and he heard the crash of the chariot behind him, he first noticed: "Heinrich the chariot breaks". Faithful Heinrich replied: “No, Lord, not the car, there is a tie from my heart that was in great pain” ... and again and again there was a crash on the way. Three iron ties for three depressions and three times the iron rings broke open again.

Who does not know them, the stories of the sad princesses who no longer like anything, who no court jester can make laugh anymore? Was there the Octopus Depression in the castle? Salvation does not take place until “the time has come”. Or fairy tales in which little devils torment the prince in the castle with glowing spears at midnight until morning.

Joylessness, agony, pain and fear are constant guests in depression.

Getting out of bed actually helps to avoid the nocturnal devils. So you are woken up in the clinic at around 1:30 a.m., you get up, get dressed and have breakfast, a very early one. Depending on the weather, you can play board games with other "sleep deprivators" in the lounge or go for an hour's walk with a sister.

It's not easy to stay awake where everything is depressing you. But it helps. At least the next day. You feel almost healthy and you know how it could be without depression. Have the neurotransmitters been tricked? Unfortunately the devils are already waiting in front of the door for the next night. You feel at your mercy again, trying to fight again, sometimes with more, sometimes with less success.

Diary writing
It was a very important job for me.

At first it was just a job. Without knowing the effects of sleep deprivation, I got up at home at night and wrote. I fought the octopus with words and didn't feel completely powerless, but did something, painted letters, filled pages. The writing is seldom quick, mostly shaky and squeaky (play on words: Did the octopus shake my hand?).

This is how each of my depressions is recorded:

The uncertainty in the first episode: "... what's wrong with me, I don't know myself anymore, what is that, I can no longer ...".