What Is Clinical Depression, And What Does It Look Like?

Note: This is a guest post I wrote that previously appeared on Prairie Health’s blog.

As someone who has lived with clinical depression for almost a decade, I’ve learned a lot about what depression is, what it means to me, and how it looks in my day-to-day life. One of the most important things that’s helped me manage my clinical depression is to do research on what it is, why it’s different from other forms of depression, and what that means for me.

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A Chance for Reflection: Sharing My Journey With Depression

I can’t underestimate how much I enjoy talking about mental health. It’s one of the few times in my life where I feel free, my brain isn’t going a hundred miles per hour and I’m able to speak honestly on a topic I feel comfortable talking about. A few weeks ago, I accepted a chance to be a guest on a mental health podcast and talk about my journey with depression, which is something I’d never done before. The experience taught me not only about the importance of sharing my story, but the growth I’ve experienced in my mental health journey.

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Depression As a Default

When I was writing my post earlier this week about the trouble with being on autopilot mentally, I wrote that my autopilot state of mind can be full of depressing and negative thoughts. Even when I wrote that, I wasn’t sure what I meant. After further reflection, I realized I wanted to share more about how I experience depression by default, what it means and why I say it. Like many other areas of my wellness, I created that phrase to name part of my feelings and emotions over the course of my mental health journey.

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How to Handle New Symptoms of Mental Illness

After living with anxiety and depression for almost a decade, I’ve become used to the symptoms that occur on my mental health journey, especially since my physical symptoms manifest themselves pretty plainly. Since my mental health has a clear impact on my physical wellness, it got easier to recognize my physical symptoms and adjust. Though it’s been extremely helpful throughout my journey, it also makes things difficult when new symptoms of anxiety appear. Not only is it surprising to accept, it can be very discouraging when new symptoms arise – but there are ways to deal with it.

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I’m Sorry, I Lost My Train of Thought…Again.

One of the most frustrating aspect of living with depression and anxiety is that at times, my brain can get easily overwhelmed . Whether it’s managing negative thoughts or trying to process what’s going on around me, it doesn’t take much to get my brain going. However, when there’s so many thing going on, it can be easy for my to lose track of my thoughts – a common experience for people living with mental illness. So how does this happen, and what can we do about it?

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Learning to Sit With Uncertainty

Earlier this week, I shared some news about adjusting to the fact that, after nearly a year, I’ve had to stop seeing my therapist. It’s a process I’m used to – in fact, this is the most success I’ve ever had with a therapist – but there’s something familiar about being in this position. Whether it’s feeling like I’m starting from scratch or having to wade into the pool of finding someone new to talk to about my life, it’s not a feeling I enjoy. But I think what I dislike most is that it brings up a lot of uncertainty in my day-to-day life – an uncertainty that’s hurt my mental health in the past.

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Making Adjustments and Moving Forward

Something I’ve come to expect in life is that unexpected things happen all the time. That’s not a lead-in to say that anything major recently happened, but the most recent unexpected thing is that I have to find a new therapist (shoutout to insurance for ruining a good thing yet again). This isn’t anything new – in fact, this past 11 months is the most success I’ve had with a therapist in the 10 years I’ve been exploring therapy – but it’s yet another adjustment to make on my mental health journey. Here’s how I’m feeling at the moment.

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The Persistence of Negative Thoughts

I don’t always like to start off my posts with ‘this week in therapy’ but….this week in therapy, I absent-mindedly brought up the fact that my negative thoughts have been more present lately. When I reflect on my negative thoughts, I don’t really view them as something to get rid of at this point. They’re here, they’re not going anywhere, and I need to figure out how to deal with them. However, it bothers me that my negative thoughts are very persistent. They can come and go whenever they want, and the hardest time to deal with them is when I forget they exist.

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When Depression Makes You Feel Like a Failure

I’ll be honest: it took me a long time to learn how to live with chronic mental health challenges. It was a bit of a bumpy road, and there were some definite missteps in the process. Some days, it felt like I was just doing a trial and error for how I lived my life. This process is fluid and ongoing, which means that new challenges will continue to pop up, but managing these challenges makes up a big part of my day-to-day life. However, one of the flip sides of this has been that sometimes, I inadvertently cling to a routine I’ve created and feel like a failure if I decide to change that schedule. It’s had a negative impact on my mental health, but sometimes it’s just as hard to recognize as it is to adapt to.

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Coping With Chronic Mental Health Challenges

I’ve knowingly lived with depression and anxiety for more than eight years. Even though I’ve grown in a lot of positive ways over that time, there have also been many challenges and obstacle, a lot of which existed primarily due to depression and anxiety. A while back I realized that matter how many steps I take to improving my mental health, obstacles will always exist. They might look different during various parts of life, but they will continue to happen, challenging my mental wellness in a now-familiar pattern. It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of living with a chronic mental health condition, but there are things I’ve learned over that that improved my approach to living with depression and anxiety.

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