This is going to be a fairly long post.
I don't know how many people read this sub-forum, but I hope it will be useful to someone.
But honestly this is mostly for me, to make sense of things, and maybe look at in time.
I'd like to recap the last couple of years, and the last couple of months.
I think some people are prone to depression.
When I was a teenager, about 14, I had a fairly bad depressive period and ended up having some psychiatric treatment after a serious suicide attempt. I guess by my late teens I'd more or less forgotten the whole thing, but as it turns out, I think once you know its something that happens in your brain, you have to be alert and watchful for signs you are sinking.
I avoided any treatment for a long time due to bad experiences with the teenage thing, but I think that some drugs early on would have saved a lot of self destruction later.
Looking around my family, there does seem to be a pretty bad tendency. My aunt ended up being committed during her 20s, and still has issues as a 50 year old. My sister also has had some fairly bad problems in her teens and now her 20s. My parents are very private, repressed people. But you can see from there behaviour that there have been times when something was up.
OK so enough background.
2 years ago, I was 22, and had just finished university. I was lucky enough to find a very good job with a major company almost immediately. I was excited, proud, and concious that I was pretty privileged, compared to my friends.
Getting a place of my own, buying a decent car, and moving to a new city were also really exciting, and I started laying down a network of friends there among my colleagues and local activity clubs. When you are not depressed, making new friends is very easy.
After about a year, I was a passenger in a nasty free-way accident. Honestly, I was very lucky to live, and even luckier to live without major disability. Sure I had some scarring, and was in hospital for quite a while, but in a crash that serious, I'd call the level of injury miraculous. The driver was totally unscratched.
If you had asked me to predict the effect that the experience would have on me a couple of years ago, I would have told you that I'd shrug it off. That really didn't happen.
During my time in hospital and then recovering at home, I became increasingly obsessed with the pointlessness of my current existence. I became deeply ashamed of the job that had been a major component of my pride beforehand. I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, then a radiographer, then...? At the time, my mood was swinging so fast that I could watch it move. One moment I would be obsessed with unrealistic plans for the future. The next my mind would be filled with thoughts of suicide that I could do nothing to remove. At this stage there wasn't even a logical reason for the suicidal thoughts, they were just there, and extremely powerful.
After about 2 months, rather sooner than I medically should have, I returned to work. My company were very understanding, and did not pressure me to come back at all but I was racked by guilt at not having been there to help my colleagues, and wanted some meaning in my life again. I don't think I got either.
The year went on and things became more stable, but continued drifting down hill.
I was sharing a house at the time, and simply stopped doing housework. To add to my troubles the woman I was sharing with (non-romantically) had a very bad experience and began to have some nasty psychotic issues. After a few weeks, I became scared by the things she was doing, and moved to a flat on my own.
ISOLATING YOURSELF WHILE DEPRESSED IS A BAD IDEA.
Getting a flat on my own turned out to be a bad idea. After returning from my parents house where I had been recovering, I had isolated myself from all my old friends in that city. I told them I was too ill to see them, and made no attempt to regain contact.
My self image degraded rapidly, and I became scared of people at work - they must hate me for being so terrible at my job (like they'd give a shit plus I wasn't bad), I forgot to wash again I must avoid being near people today, what if they ask me about the work I am supposed to be doing?
My flat became more and more dirty as I simply failed to clean it, or wash up. I would return from work at about 8pm, and spend my evening curled up, usually on the toilet, thinking about how rubbish I was, or about death. I would play the accident over in my head again and again, wish I had died there, and become so tense that I didn't sleep. I would certainly not eat anything.
After a while of eating a couple of times a week and not sleeping much, I guess my physical appearance started degrading. The people around me were concerned, but too polite to ask about it. I must have smelled too. Work remained the only thing in my life.
At about this time I went on this website, had a look around, and realized that I was probably depressed. Yeah, thinking constantly about suicide and not eating for days wasn't enough of a hint, I had to read it on the internet.
At first, I tried healthy eating, running, yoga, and putting more time aside for sleep.
Of these, sleep seemed to be the most important, but after a little while I lost the energy to do these things.
Things got to a point where I realized that if I didn't seek professional treatment within a couple of weeks, I would probably kill myself. I mean, that's not a good place to be - after trying unsuccessfully in my teens I had seen the effect it had on my family, and that had been pretty much the only thing keeping me alive.
So I went to the doctor and they gave me some drugs, which took about a month to have any effect I think.
In the mean time, I pretty much imploded - stopped going to work for 2 weeks, going in for the odd day then feeling like I just couldn't cope. I don't even know what the problem was specifically, I just couldn't cope with life at that point. I didn't feel like I was me, I felt like I was watching me from outside, and although in some ways it made things better, it made it impossible to work.
So I went to my parents, told them an edited version of the above, agreed that I could move home, and resigned the next day.
Being away from work lifted a huge amount of stress. It was not a bad place to work, and my colleagues were good people, but over that year I had developed a warped perception where they hated me, and I was failing to achieve every day. Even though it wasn't real, that perception was extremely strong, and I couldn't recognise the reality until much later.
After a couple of months the drugs kicked in, and I found myself in a place psychologically where I was neither happy nor unhappy. Rather I was chemically unconcerned about the future. Not a great place to plan from, but a hell of a lot better than what happened before. I am fairly certain I would not have survived the deepest period of depression much longer.
After 2 months, I received an unexpected phone-call, from the owner of a good company asking me to work for him. I told him I could start after 2 more months (for some made up reason), and after a little longer came off the antidepressants. I had a yucky period of strong suicidal thoughts coming off, which overlapped with starting the new job, but after a while they faded away.
The new people I was working with were really nice. I don't expect I will ever tell them, but honestly they returned a lot of my faith in humanity. They cared about each-other, and talked like people rather than cooperate robots. They cared deeply about the work they did, but understood that it wasn't wrong to have fun doing it.
Since the accident, I had deeply wanted to spend my days doing something that really helped people. Yeah its cheesy, and yeah there are logical problems with it that I am sure a lot of people reading can come up with very fast, but it was the only thing that year that felt instinctively right.
Although I was getting a lot better, I had not become 'normal' at that point, and believed that I would be fired as soon as my new colleagues realized I was rubbish.
So I applied to a college course in something sorta medical, that would help people.
After maybe another month, I was feeling a lot better about the place where I was working, when an offer arrived to start the course the next month. So that is what I did. I think I would be as happy if I had stayed, but staying in comfort rather than pursuing your dream is ok until you realize you could die tomorrow.