Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The beginning of another relapse of depression

In July 2007, I suffered a relapse of clinical depression due to various reasons. I am still in the midst of recovering from this relapse. Thank God that I am much better now.

After my diagnosis in April 2007, I was put on a mood-stabiliser (lamotrigine, brand name Lamictal) and anti-psychotic medication (quetiapine, brand name Seroquel). My condition was improving at that time. But my work became rather stressful and so was my family situation as the months go by.

My mother was suddenly diagnosed with having stones in her bile duct and may require an urgent surgery. As her heart ECG revealed abnormality, she was required to see her heart specialist as soon as possible to determine whether her heart is strong enough to undergo the surgery. The Doctor told us that as my mother suffers from diabetes, if without the surgery, she will die of complication of the stones causing infection in her bile duct. But even if she undergoes the surgery, there is also a risk of her dying on the surgical table. Either way, her life seems to be in danger. Thank God for the prayers of my church friends. But I still have to face many difficult and important decisions in very short time. As all of my siblings are overseas, I have to undertake the responsibilities of taking my mother for her various medical appointments plus sometimes making those important and urgent decisions without time for consulting my siblings. Thank God for giving me grace to cope.

At the same time, my work was getting rather stressful. I struggled to cope with the various demands at work. I was often physically and mentally very tired.

Besides these, I was also still adapting to my medications and my illness. I was under the false presumptions that once on medications, my condition will improve and stabilise. I didn’t realize that it will take time for my condition to stabilise and that I do still need to understand what will trigger off my illness and how best to handle it. I failed to recognize early symptoms of relapse of my illness.

By July 2007, I began to find my mood going down. I tried hard to cope with my work and family situations, and tried to prevent my mood from getting worse by taking walks whenever I can. But due to the stresses I was facing each day and my lack of ability to handle them well, and my failure to notice the deteriorating symptoms of my illness, by beginning of August 2007 I was down in depression again. This happened despite being on medications.

The same symptoms which I have experienced in the past relapses began to set in. Every morning I felt so tired that I could hardly get up from my bed. I felt very exhausted throughout the day. My mind was so slowed down that I could hardly think. My feeling was either flat most of the time or absolutely miserable. I couldn’t feel anything right. Most of my thoughts were negative. My mind turned against me. I was tormented by my past failures, my current weaknesses and the thoughts that nothing will ever make me feel better.

I had no desire to wake up and face each day. I dreaded waking up. Each night when I went to sleep, I prayed that God will take me home and that I will not wake up the next morning. I dreaded going to work. I didn’t want to go to work but I had no choice. My mother didn’t know of my illness. So I could not stay at home and I had to go to work. I had to go to work partly also because I had to keep my job as I needed the income. Partly because it was the only way to keep me a little sane. Being on my own, isolating myself from people, was worse though that was what I wanted to do most of those time.

I dreaded meeting people. I put up a strong front when I had to meet people. I tried to hide how terrible I really feel inside. Whether it was at home, at work, in the street or in church, I put on a front. I tried to appear as normal as possible or I tried to cover up by excusing myself or leaving as soon as possible so that no one will find out what I was going through. No one will understand, so why bother to talk about it. No one will understand, so why risk letting them know what I am going through.

I got very nervous and anxious without reasons. I couldn’t think properly or make decisions. I had difficulties making decision on which dress to put on. I didn’t know what to eat during lunch time as I couldn’t make up my mind. I dreaded facing each day.

I called unto God for help each day and He upheld me day by day though I could not feel His presence with me. I could not derive any comfort from reading God’s Words like the way I used to do when I was well. I have very little concentration and I could hardly read. Even if I read, I could digest very little of it. My mind seemed incapable of deriving any encouragement or comfort even from the most encouraging Bible verses or articles I have read before in the past. Now they all mean meaningless to me. I sometimes mistakenly think that God has forsaken me, He has turned a deaf ear to my prayers or He has no mercy for me. I questioned whether I am a true Christian. I could not sense God’s love for me nor my love for Him. I wonder whether I am a hypocrite, destined forever to eternal condemnation. I thought that I have deceived myself all these whiles and that I really was no Christian but just a hypocrite. This was frightening. Life seems meaningless with God…. What is the point of going on?

The thought of death kept recurring. Life is meaningless. Without God, without meaningful things to do for God daily, without the ability to enjoy God and anything in this world, life became meaningless. How am I going to face another day… or even another hour… another minute….or another second….

To know what happened next, following this dark and painful period of time, tune in to my next mail coming up soon :-)

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