Tuesday, May 1, 2007

LWD - Living with Dysthymia

I decided to add another series, like I don't have enough, but I think it's pertinent to my life and life in general. Dysthymia is a different form of depression, as it has two origins, one initiated by some event or situation in someone's life and one genetic. The former is described as a mild form of depression lasting 2 or more years. The latter is described as a lifetime situation with someone who inherited it. I have the latter, and can trace mine to my childhood when it surfaced.

Almost all people with genetic Dysthymia can trace their condition to their childhood, usually starting in their teenage years, and often gets misdiagnosed as other forms of depression or mental health conditions, or as often a personality disorder. It's none of those. And it's not something you need to think of as entirely bad, it's not and has many good effects. Almost all people with Dysthymia go quietly about their life, you would never guess they have it, where many people who experience it (non-genetic) often are a little obvious as they're different.

And why the difference? People falling into Dysthymia experience changes in the life and mood. People with genetic Dysthymia have had it all their life so it's not so obivous in the changes in their life. It's only when they have double depression do you notice something different with them. And, in my view, the two experience double depression differently, where non-genetic have more typical severe depression, and genetic have added depression, a slow slide into a deeper self.

I can't and won't speak about the non-genetic form of Dysthymia in this series except occasionally in comparison. My Dysthymia is genetic. I was diagnosed in 1991 after the death of my brother and 3 years before my father's passing. In hindsight, I can trace mine to when I was six but really didn't exhibit it until high school. I've suffered two periods of double depression, both leading to thoughts of suicide, one in 1978 when I almost succeded - and would have if not for a last moment thought, which I'll talk about later.

The second was in 1991 when my brother died of a heart attack - when my Dad and I had another and major falling out, and when I got a promotion to be a senior technical manager and lead hydrologist for a 24/7 realtiime data operations team. It was a stressful year, and thought of suicide often but knew in the end it wasn't an answer. And that's the key to genetic form. It's a reality check that often actually helps.

You see I describe the feeling of being near suicide as sitting on the bottom of a deep well. All you see and know is darkness, it surrounds every fiber of your being. And ever so slowly it sinks into your heart, your soul, and eventually your spirit, where it feels as the only thing you are. Surprisingly, however, genetic Dysthymics function in life. That's the secret to their existence. It's not obvious what's going on with them. We won't tell, and will get on with life, except we're not there.

So what changes things? It's not drugs or therapy. It's the willingness to live.

1 comment:

  1. drugs help... My dysthymic depression is partially due to a traumatic teenage experience, and genetic disposition. I smoked copious amounts of high quality weed for three years, this helped at first, but it added to the severity of the mood change, utter dismay to extreme happiness (being high) then right back down, even deeper. My solitude (lack of any friends) is not helping either. I am also very introverted and have an IQ of 127-140,which puts me 40 points above average, this also alienates me. I have been diagnosed with ADD, Personality Disorder NOS, OCD, Dysthymia and I have a traumatic brain injury. Not many real answers out there for me, only more questions and lonliness. I'm now on 10 MG Aderall, and it helps a bit.