Lapse back into depression

Sleeping teenI am widely known for my past experiences with mental health. Since the age of 15, I have been very outspoken about what I’ve been through, what I’ve been diagnosed with, what medications I’ve taken, what works, and what doesn’t. Everyone knows that with the help of my parents and a large support team I’ve gone through hell and back, survived and become an advocate for youth like myself who don’t feel like they have a voice. I have been told that I’m one of the lucky ones, brave, and most often, strong. These days, I feel anything but.

For the last year and a half, I’ve been battling a severe bout of depression, striving to remain resilient, but slowly sinking back into the all too familiar pit of despair that I’ve grown to hate- and woops! I’ve forgotten my ladder, so climbing right back out isn’t an option. I’ve been trying to claw my way up the hard way but without much success.

It’s not hard to discern when or why I became depressed this time around. One of my biggest supports and best friends was my father and he died unexpectedly in April 2011. Following his death, it seemed like everything fell apart- my family, my structure, my life, my sanity. For the first time in my life, I became a caretaker, as my disabled mother became my responsibilty, and I had little-if any- support in taking care of her. My boyfriend and I moved into an apartment with her in an unsafe neighborhood where we endured a lot of family drama, multiple break-ins, and all the while, I tried to find healthy ways to mourn the loss of my father. It was impossible because I found that I was so busy taking care of everyone and everything else that I forgot to take care of myself too.

For me, this lapse back into depression feels like a slap in the face, especially remembering how hard I worked to get out if it in the first place. I have to remind myself often that sometimes this does happen, and that I can’t beat myself up over it, but that’s hard to do when I get mad at myself for staying in my pajamas all day, wrapped up in a blanket and refusing to leave the house. I know I can’t live in my bed forever, and it’s going to take a lot of effort on my part to find the motivation to function again, so I’ll continue to live day to day, one step at a time.

Chandra Watts is our guest blogger.  She is a young adult who draws on her own life to change how the world sees mental illness.  She is one of the founding members of Youth MOVE Massachusetts.

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12 thoughts on “Lapse back into depression

  1. Chandra,

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us! Reading this shows that your strength is still burning through, and I hope you are proud of yourself for taking the step to put yourself out there and share your struggle with others. Being a young adult in recovery myself, I had been doing very well for a long time, and have recently had some setbacks with my depression as well. It’s hard to know how far you’ve come, and feel like you’ve taken steps backwards. But just remember, you are a survivor! You said it yourself, you’ve been through hell and back, and you’re still here, fighting for what you believe in! Sometimes I have to remind myself that I may need to reach a little farther, and work a little harder than usual to get some healthy support back into my life, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

    I hope it can brighten your day a little to know that you’ve made me feel a little less alone today by sharing what you’re going through. It’s hard not to just throw in the towel sometimes, but knowing that there are other young adults out there fighting for their recovery, even in the darkest of days, is reassuring. You can do this! I can do this! One day at a time, one step at a time, one more minute in the day that we spend outside of our pajamas and in the sun makes all the difference!

  2. I have a 12 year old daughter who suffers with depression, amongst other things. She struggles with communicating her thoughts and feelings to anyone, including me. To me, the ability to express your life to total strangers shows incredible strength. Also, the transition to caretaker is not easy for anyone! Your perseverance is encouraging. Thank you!

  3. Chandra, I can understand that spending a day at home still in pajamas seems like a backslide from the time spent out in the world advocating for other young people with mental health challenges. However, I see it as traveling along the path that you might need to take to survive the dark times and make it back into the sunlight. Also, I don’t necessarily see this as a step backwards even though it might feel that way because it reminds you of a previous depressive episode. You are not the same person as when this happened before. You pulled your way out of the depression before and and now have the knowledge that you can do it again. You have had incredible challenges in your life but have met them. They have left you drained and empty and in need of recharging. Take the time to recharge ande know that you have people in your life that love you, and value you, and realize your importance in this world. We will still be there when you open your daughter to step back outside again.

  4. Dear Chandra –
    Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and thoughts – they are important to all of us to know the ups and downs that you are going through – sometimes we think it is easy to be a young adult who can do it all- inspiring others all the time and helping others and it really isn’t – it takes a lot and sometimes it takes too much – so I wanted to let you know I support you in those ups and more importantly in those downs – and when you are in the downs – that is when you become your own caretaker – and as that caretaker doing whatever it is that will make you feel good about yourself – you are number one today – you need to take as good care of yourself as you take for others – do what mkes you feel good – you are first on the list – hard as that is – we all want you to care for Chandra today – You are the first priority and know we will help you do that – we can also help with the rest – Rich and Amanda and Lisa – and Meri – and me – we can all carry the load while you take the time you need for yourself – it’s ok – it’s good – We’re here for you – Ann

  5. To me, depression is like the tides. It comes in and washes over you, and you just need to ride it out, until it goes back out again. Anniversaries are very tough, and the events last week traumatized an entire state and country. Its ok to be sad and to stay in your pajamas for a while, and take care of yourself.

    I hope you are at least wearing “flannel zebra jammies, the built-in onsies with the socks on”……

  6. I hear what you are saying. I have had bouts of severe depression since I was 7. The past few years have been going well but I still feel the black cloud ever present off to the side and fear when it will come back. All I can say is when you are going through hell don’t stop.

  7. Dear Chandra,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and your strength with us! Not only did you experience a great loss, but you then became a care taker of a disabled parent! Many, much older adults struggle with having to care for a disabled parent, and it can be very challenging and lead to depression, whether or not they had it to begin with! I hope you are able to reach out to organizations, family or friends for support. You don’t need to do this alone! Hang in there!

  8. Dear Chandra,
    I truly know how you feel I have had my share of times with my own family I am taken care of my mom my dad just died in January and I have a
    Husband and four children with disabilities that I also care for. There are days that I find myself stepping back into my depression but like you I have had many times that I have had to crawl back out. and have done it. Please don’t be hard on yourself on the days that you feel a bout of depression coming on take the time to do something for yourself like taking a walk or a ride or call a friend and go out for awhile I find this to be very helpful you still feel the symptoms but you wont slide back as far. I to have days when I am in my pj’s but I take it as my body saying I need a rest from all the things that are going on in my life. I sometimes just stay in my pj’s just to have a day of rest. Between you and me we do a lot for everyone else but not enough for ourselves so just take the time for yourself once in awhile because you deserve it.

  9. Hi,

    There are so many of us with such different lives but sounding as though we are one. The thoughts, the feelings, the expectations of what we should be doing and we can’t. The rungs on the ladder to climb out are made up of all of us, although we have never met. Some moving to the top and some are slipping down a few rungs at times. But we can only know the ladder is strong and we are not alone. Thank you to everyone that shared.

  10. Chandra,

    Thanks for your insights and hang in there. I totally relate to wrapping up in a blanket and not wanting to leave the house. I wrapped up in a blanket this morning and slept myself, after I got my little one to school. I agree with the comment that depression is like the tides/waves. Some times I get caught in the undertow for a few days and then my head bobs above the surface for a few days. It is a constant battle.

    Take care,

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