At age 22, I had my first bout of depression. I didn't know what triggered it and I struggled through it on my own. After the third episode, I went to a psychiatrist and was put on medication. Because of the side effects, I stopped the medication as soon as the depression lifted. I also stopped seeing my doctor.
These rather short episodes recurred for 20 years. I then went into a severe depression that lasted for five months, and I had to take a leave of absence from my job.
I went to a new doctor and was put on Prozac. I continued on this medication and was depression-free for 12 years. I am now recovering from a bout of depression that lasted for a year. Prozac lost its effectiveness and I tried many different anti-depressants, but they all had intolerable side effects. I applied for short-term disability benefits and when they expired I had to leave my job. Subsequently, I went for a consultation with a new doctor and was diagnosed as having Bipolar 2. I was put on Lamictal and am now doing very well.
I have a Master's degree and, prior to leaving my job, I had worked for the same company for 33 years. With the exception of this last bout of depression, I was unwilling to discuss this illness. I had difficulty understanding it and I was convinced others couldn't as well.
I am married with two grown daughters, and my family has been very understanding. However, it has been difficult to explain my hurt.
I am now working part time at a bank and have the opportunity to begin a second career. I was very fortunate to have a doctor who was committed to my well being. When I was extremely down, we would speak several times per day. I joined the local Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance group, which is extremely supportive. I've always felt that this illness can only be understood by others who have struggled or are struggling with it.
I am writing this to give hope to others.