Major depression vs. PTSD

Now that I’m less depressed I feel like a winter animal that sees the sunlight and feels the warmth and so emerges from their winter den. For me, that’s what it’s like when the antidepressants work. My world changes from dark to light. My thoughts do a complete 180 and I don’t get bogged down in negativity. No shit. I’m not trying to be poetic I’m speaking the truth.

I look back on the treatments I’ve endured for fighting my depression.

The most recent care I’ve been under began a few months back when I got off my last antidepressant (Pristiq) and I quickly spiraled into depression. I was under the care of the same therapist I’m currently seeing and this therapist does not give a lot of feedback and our sessions last a long 45 minutes. Perhaps that is the way it is in psychoanalysis, I’ve read others experiences and it seems the therapist is a blank slate for the patient to bounce their neurosis off of. Like I said, I don’t really know if that is the case across the board but with my particular therapist, it seems to be the way she operates. It wasn’t her technique that saved me from this depression; it was her prescription pad.

I saw a psychiatrist back in 2003 that operated similarly but he gave my problem of “major depression” 15 minutes so the situation was not as uncomfortable. His job description was psycho pharmacologist and he was paid the big bucks to prescribe meds and that he did. Under his care, I tried Effexor, Lexapro, Strattera and Trazadone (as a sleep aid).  He definitely wasn’t into “talk therapy” so my treatment was all about the efficacy of the meds. I liked that approach because this doc focused only on symptoms of depression.

Prior to the psychiatrist I saw a therapist (LICSW) for a number of years (1991-1993) and worked through many issues of sexual abuse in my childhood. I felt – and still feel – that I’ve done the introspective work, put my childhood pain out in the open and healed by allowing a caring therapist to work with me through the after-effects of incest, including shame, guilt, self-hate and low self-esteem. I completely trusted this therapist during the time I saw her on a weekly basis. I knew I needed to release my painful childhood issues and she helped me do it. I was in my late 20’s and felt so completely fearful of others knowing my vulnerability and weakness that I paid out-of-pocket to see her. Looking back, that was crazy of me because I worked fulltime and had insurance that would cover mental health care. This shows how scared I was to expose my past. I didn’t want anyone to know what happened to me and how screwed up I felt on the inside. I fought to never let anyone in my present life know my past.

I left that therapy because I felt the therapist and I had come to the end of the work I needed to do in terms of childhood sexual abuse and the effects of post traumatic stress disorder. I had a sense of mastery and control and I shifted my perception of myself from victim to survivor. I recall writing in my journal “I’m done.” There occurred a healthy change in self-perception. Here’s a poem I saved from that time (BTW—the author of this poem, Dr. Frank Ochberg, has his own nonprofit website called gifts from within and continues to help victims of trauma.

Survivor Psalm

I have been victimized.

I was in a fight that was

not a fair fight.

I did not ask for the fight.

I lost.

There is no shame in losing

such fights.

I have reached the stage of

survivor and am no longer a

slave of victim status.

I look back with sadness

rather than hate.

I look forward with hope

rather than despair.

I may never forget, but I need

not constantly remember.

I was a victim.

I am a survivor.

I am glad to be feeling less depressed and to be able to reminisce about my past, rather than feel like I’m re-traumatized and reliving the events. This is good.

Okay, so I’m feeling pretty strong right now and I realize my fall into depression this time was not a complete plunge back into early trauma. I don’t need to rework the effects of childhood sexual abuse. I was right when I expressed in my earlier blogs that I thought I was seeing Linda to help with depression not PTSD. The past has not invaded my present as it did back in my early days of therapy. That’s a relief.

It’s scary to know how easily I can be sucked into the pit of depression. And, scarier still, to realize when I’m in that place I have no sense of what’s depression and what isn’t. Man, that is some frightening shit the way a person’s rational thoughts, behaviors and feelings can be overpowered by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Truth be told, this reality has me worried about what will happen next time I’m depressed. My deepest fear is if I let go of that self-protectiveness and allow others to really see me at my worst. I fear I would be hospitalized and treated for severe issues. I’ve told therapists of this fear and I always get a look like, you are way too normal and productive to fall into that situation. I look right back at them and think I am one tiny bit removed from needing a residential treatment center.

I suppose I should be happy that when I get in a rut, I isolate myself and don’t let on how bad I feel. At least that keeps a safety net around me so I won’t do anything too dangerous. I can continue to go through the motions and go to work, be a mother and a wife.

For my friends that have stuck with this writing until the end, I will share an embarrassing truth. I bought a bottle of wine despite my desire to get on the right path for healing and go alcohol-free. I lasted 10 days without a drink and then my old behaviors won out and I enjoyed the respite that a few drinks offer. Old habits die-hard or, if you don’t know the meaning of that, existing habits are hard to change. Even feeling well brings an amount of stress with it because I remember too vividly the depth of despair when I am in the throes of depression.

3 responses to “Major depression vs. PTSD

  1. You are so bang on about this. Depression = PSTD. I went through therapy for this, it was called Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, and it was the first therapy I went through when experiencing the flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse. I was vulnerable and needy, I held on to this therapist for dear life, but hindsight, this was very damaging (that was 13 years ago). I went through other therapists and they just didn’t suit my needs, until I found the one I have now who helped me walk through the whole abuse.

    I believe the years of depression were the result of PSTD.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Take care.


  2. Pingback: Severe Depression Vs Ptsd | Over Here Blogging

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