Can a depressed person ever be happy?

depression : "I will not let my life mess up"

We asked a young woman to tell about her everyday life with depression. Born in a small town in the early 1980s, she has lived in Berlin for many years. Since she fears professional disadvantages, among other things, she wants to remain anonymous.

My depressions are like tinted glasses: They are like a filter over everything, coloring my perception, my thoughts and feelings. I've been wearing these glasses for more than 30 years, almost all of my life. Of course, I wasn't always aware of that. For a long time, this kind of worldview was plain and simple for me: normal.

Even as a child I was often sad and felt a certain heaviness on myself. You rarely see me laughing in photos from this period. I thought a lot, compared myself to others - and of course I got worse and worse: The other children were smarter than me, they were happier than me. They were more lovable. I wanted to be like them, wanted adults to like me too. That's why I've always tried to hide my heaviness - even from myself. Instead of facing it, I kept myself busy. Was on the way. Celebrated a lot. Fled. Denied. I think I managed that well. Maybe too good.

As a teenager I was once asked by an acquaintance whether I would brood a lot. Brooding? The word didn't mean anything to me. I thought I would just think a lot. Just like everyone else. It was then that I became a little aware that all the worries, all the thoughts that were circling in my head might not be as normal as I thought they were.

So brooding. Yes, the word hit it. Hit it today. Negative thought loops, in which I get stuck again and again, that paralyze me, rob me of all my energy. When I sleep poorly at night, wake up in the morning with a lump in my stomach and can barely breathe because fear is almost overwhelming. When I drag myself into the kitchen and sit down at the table. Trapped in a time hole, caught up in my thoughts. In this state, even the simplest, perhaps even the least important decisions pose insoluble problems for me: Should I take a shower first? Or have breakfast first? And what about the flowers, when do I water them? I dont know. And so remain seated, unable to make up your mind. For hours.

Yeah, maybe that sounds silly. Sometimes I laugh at these "problems" myself afterwards. But during the Depression they are there - torturous and real. Nevertheless, for a long time I pretended that there was nothing. I graduated from high school. Moved from home, from a small town to Berlin. Got an apprenticeship. Worked. Worked. Until it just couldn't be anymore. My mother became seriously ill and died. A relationship broke up. I accidentally became pregnant and had an abortion. I no longer knew where up and down was. And was finally able to admit that I needed help.

Short-term outpatient therapy was unsuccessful. So I decided to go to a clinic. That was the best thing that could have happened to me: give up all responsibility, no longer have to function, no longer hide. I could just be. And try to find myself again.

I stayed in the clinic for three months, doing group and individual therapies, going jogging and going on excursions with the other patients. And I learned that life doesn't always have to be difficult. That it can also be lighter, friendlier, brighter. However, this took some time - and a lot of persuasion on the part of the doctors. Because of course they wanted me not only to do talk therapy, but also to take antidepressants. Psychiatric drugs. I resisted it for a long time, but finally let myself be convinced. They told me that the other therapies can often only make a difference if you get out of your loop of thought - and the medication helps with that.

It felt strange at first, and I often felt dizzy. But then I noticed how my perception changed. As the filter through which I saw the world slowly weakened. Just like the negative thoughts and feelings: bit by bit, they seemed to move to the edge, to make room for other sensations. I remember lying in bed one evening and yet again unable to rest. But this time it was different than usual: it wasn't the heaviness that kept me from sleeping. On the contrary: it was the sudden lightness that I felt. A whole new feeling. Confusing, but also beautiful. "I can't sleep because I'm so happy," I said to my roommate. She never stopped laughing.

After the stay in the clinic, I continued to do outpatient therapies, psychoanalysis, and behavioral therapy. Til today. I also still take psychotropic drugs. I've now accepted that I need them. Like a heart patient who has to take pills all his life. In the past I have tried to stop taking the medication time and time again. But every time I fell into a hole again. I would probably need a lot of strength, calm and security in my life to get along without the pills. But where should I get this calm and strength from? I would have to limit myself professionally and would have to struggle with concentration problems and mood swings. But how do I explain to my boss when I burst into tears when I get a new assignment? "Oh, I'm just a little unstable right now, I'm taking off my psychotropic drugs"? Certainly not.

That's why I lied to my employer. Not only did I hide my illness from him, I explicitly denied it. On a questionnaire that I had to fill out because the position provides for regular longer stays abroad. Of course, I can't be sure - but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have got the job if I had an honest answer. Despite my other qualifications.

That might not have been entirely okay. But let me miss this opportunity because of my illness? No never. No more. I want to reach my potential, not surrender to illness. I won't let depression ruin my whole life. Even if they keep trying.

In the worst, darkest phases of my life, I asked myself more than once why I was still doing all this to myself: why I always struggled to pull myself up, only to collapse again after all. Why don't I just give up. Break up. Definitely. Sometimes these thoughts were very specific. It was terrifying, frightening - but somehow also comforting. Like a glowing "emergency exit" sign in a long, dark hallway. I never used that emergency exit. But I can understand when others do. Unfortunately, this is always forgotten: Depression can be a deadly disease.

I am glad that I always found the strength to keep going. I have family and good friends who support me. Who patiently advise me when I don't know what to do with: How was the shower, breakfast, watering of the flowers? The years in therapy are also having an effect: I am increasingly successful in the fight against the disease, more and more often I manage to look at the situation objectively in a crisis - and thus break the loop of thought, at least temporarily.

Will I ever get rid of the depression altogether? I dont know. But I've come a long way. Life is more beautiful than I thought a few years ago. It held more in store for me than I had ever thought. And now I'm curious to see what's coming next.

You can read more about this in the magazine for medicine and health in Berlin "Tagesspiegel Gesund".

Further topics of the edition:Fact check. Exciting information about mind and soul; You have a tit. When is the psyche really sick ?; Brain research. What neuroscience can and cannot do; Psychosomatic. Body and mind are an inseparable unit; The path to healing. Outpatient, inpatient, rehab? The navigator shows the treatment route; Help in life crisis. Berlin addresses for emergencies. Medication. Effects, benefits and risks of psychotropic drugs; DEPRESSIONS: Get out of the bladder. The way back to life can succeed; Winter depression. How artificial light helps against seasonal mood lows; BURNOUT: Illness with chic? Why burnout is just a fad for some; Shut down. A ski jumping legend talks about sport and illness; Burned out. A comedian tells about the dark side of success; ADDICTION: Life without drugs.Weaning is hard work; Children of addicts. A picture book deals with the effects of alcohol addiction on the family; Drug. What drugs are there and how they work; SCHIZOPHRENIA: Flood of stimuli. When the dopamine balance in the brain is out of joint; Family affair. Author Janine Berg-Peer on life with a schizophrenic daughter; MENTAL DISORDERS: Live fearlessly. A sick fear is curable; Doctor's letter. How obsessive-compulsive disorder is treated; Eating disorder. When enjoyment is lost; SLEEP DISORDERS: Self-experiment. Slumbering in the laboratory; Dream research. What our nightly head cinema reveals; SERVICE: A comparison of clinics and doctors; Column. Helmut Schümann advises taking the psyche seriously

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