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Raw and Open: Persistent Depressive Disorder

Guest Author: Jody Betty

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

There is never a time when I am not depressed, nor do I remember a time when there was not a ton of weight on my shoulders. That is the one of the results of my trauma; Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), which is a chronic low grade depression that simply does not go away. Not ever. It is considered a milder version of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), however can be equally debilitating. In order to be diagnosed with PDD you have to have been in a depressed state for at least two years.

The struggle with PDD begins each morning as I open my eyes. I feel the weight of the world balancing precariously on my shoulders. My mind is flooded with thoughts as fast as the speed of light. The instant disappointment and resentment of actually waking up has weighted me down since I can recall. Rationally I know I have done nothing to bring on dying, but a small part of me is saddened that it never quite seems to be my time yet. This, unfortunately, is not a fleeting thought, more like a tattoo with my brain being the canvas instead of my skin. Some days these thoughts fade as I wake with my morning coffee, other times they are forefront for the day. For me, they also come in spurts. I could feel somewhat okay one minute and the next my mind has drifted off into the darkness of death.

I don’t know the last time I truly felt happy.

So, in between my episodes of Major Depressive Disorder, I may get a break from feeling overwhelmingly suicidal, I still remain in this constant low. I don’t know the last time I truly felt happy, and am to the point where I wonder if it is possible, even with all the meds that are supposed to help, but instead make me feel nothing but numb. My therapist asked me, “wWat does happiness look like for you” and all I could come up with to say was “to not feel so heavy.” I can’t even fathom the thought of being free from this emotional torment. It casts shadows over my days and haunts my dreams at night.

Never having a period of relief from depression has given me a constant sense of hopelessness, and stripped me of confidence in all areas of my life. It has taken away my ability to see the glass half full. It has taught me that hoping for the best leads to expectations, and expectations lead to disappointment, which in turn has made me prepare for negative things as much as possible. It has cast a permanent shadow over the way I see the world, the way I see and deal with both people and situations. The colors are not as bright, the chirping birds don’t sound quite as sweet and the world is just not as safe. Ironically, as prepared as I try to be, it really doesn’t help ease the pain when it is upon me.

PDD affects me physically as well. As you may well know, being at war with yourself for even a day is exhausting, and I am saddled with a lifetime of it. There are days when I feel tired, old and brittle, as if the lightest of breezes could knock me over or the slightest of touches make me shatter in tiny shards. Most days I stay isolated and alone to avoid having to compose my face into some semblance of cheerfulness; instead of having to wear the mask. There are days when no matter how small the task, I literally can get nothing accomplished, which in turn makes me feel like a failure and that cycle just adds to my depression. I feel exhausted, both mentally and physically most days, and more than a need for a rest is the dire need for a moment of peace.

I think the hardest part about accepting and dealing with PDD is in the diagnosis itself…in my mind persistent feels like a life sentence. At least with MDD, there are often breaks in between episodes, but my break is just a low flat line, which truly is not much of a break at all. I long to feel something, anything, aside from depressed or numb. I want to be able to feel happy without having to wear my happy mask. I want back the ability to feel joy again and although PDD has robbed that from me, I continue to fight on.  

There is never a time when I am not depressed, nor do I remember a time when there was not a ton of weight on my shoulders. That is the one of the results of my trauma; Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), which is a chronic low grade depression that simply does not go away. Not ever. It is considered a milder version of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), however can be equally debilitating. In order to be diagnosed with PDD you have to have been in a depressed state for at least two years.

The struggle with PDD begins each morning as I open my eyes. I feel the weight of the world balancing precariously on my shoulders. My mind is flooded with thoughts as fast as the speed of light. The instant disappointment and resentment of actually waking up has weighted me down since I can recall. Rationally I know I have done nothing to bring on dying, but a small part of me is saddened that it never quite seems to be my time yet. This, unfortunately, is not a fleeting thought, more like a tattoo with my brain being the canvas instead of my skin. Some days these thoughts fade as I wake with my morning coffee, other times they are forefront for the day. For me, they also come in spurts. I could feel somewhat okay one minute and the next my mind has drifted off into the darkness of death.

“What does happiness look like for you?”

So, in between my episodes of Major Depressive Disorder, I may get a break from feeling overwhelmingly suicidal, I still remain in this constant low. I don’t know the last time I truly felt happy, and am to the point where I wonder if it is possible, even with all the meds that are supposed to help, but instead make me feel nothing but numb. My therapist asked me “what does happiness look like for you?” And all I could come up with to say was “to not feel so heavy.” I can’t even fathom the thought of being free from this emotional torment. It casts shadows over my days and haunts my dreams at night.

Never having a period of relief from depression has given me a constant sense of hopelessness, and stripped me of confidence in all areas of my life. It has taken away my ability to see the glass half full. It has taught me that hoping for the best leads to expectations, and expectations lead to disappointment, which in turn has made me prepare for negative things as much as possible. It has cast a permanent shadow over the way I see the world, the way I see and deal with both people and situations. The colors are not as bright, the chirping birds don’t sound quite as sweet and the world is just not as safe. Ironically, as prepared as I try to be, it really doesn’t help ease the pain when it is upon me.

PDD affects me physically as well. As you may well know, being at war with yourself for even a day is exhausting, and I am saddled with a lifetime of it. There are days when I feel tired, old and brittle, as if the lightest of breezes could knock me over or the slightest of touches make me shatter in tiny shards. Most days I stay isolated and alone to avoid having to compose my face into some semblance of cheerfulness; instead of having to wear the mask. There are days when no matter how small the task, I literally can get nothing accomplished, which in turn makes me feel like a failure and that cycle just adds to my depression. I feel exhausted, both mentally and physically most days, and more than a need for a rest is the dire need for a moment of peace.

I think the hardest part about accepting and dealing with PDD is in the diagnosis itself. In my mind persistent feels like a life sentence. At least with MDD, there are often breaks in between episodes, but my break is just a low flatline, which truly is not much of a break at all. I long to feel something, anything, aside from depressed or numb. I want to be able to feel happy without having to wear my happy mask. I want back the ability to feel joy again and although PDD has robbed that from me, I continue to fight on.  

Jody Betty is a guest blogger for SickNotWeak who, in her own words, is a master at the art of survival. She lives with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is co-afflicted with MDD, Dysthymia and Social Anxiety. She has survived three serious suicide attempts and a handful of overdoses which lets her know it isn’t her time. You can read her blog “Raw and Open” posted bi-weekly on Thursdays on SNW.

Comments

dklauser
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Thank you for helping me help other Jody. You’re truly a lifesaver 🙏🏼

Shelli
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My psych recently decided to change my diagnosis to PDD so this article is very helpful. Thank you for sharing

Hermit Of Suburbia
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Thank you for your post Jody. I have similar experiences. I feel so empty every day. The pain of my existence is I am unable to form meaningful lasting connections with any family, friends or significant others. I can’t find comfort in material things, possessions and am unmotivated to pursue achievement. Spirituality though useful, feels academic and has no sense of connection for me either. I am disillusioned by a life I am forced to live. I onced believed love would heal my pain but I’ve lost so many people and can’t understand why they walk away from me. I’m afraid of adding more relationships to feel the loss of every day. The loss never fades. I am stuck between desperately needing comfort and a growing fear of abandonment. Sleep is all that brings me peace when I don’t dream. I’m almost 40 and can’t think of anyone or anything to stay for. The got-to sentiment of being missed is frustrating because what exactly about the individual will be missed when no one ever picks up a phone to just say “hi”? It’s a mockery dressed up as care. I will sleep and try fill the voids until a ‘messiah of the broken hearted’ finally arises on the internet one day from a lifetime of serotonin based medication, exercise, meditation and cognitive therapy to tell the world “I beat clinical depression and am now actually in good mental health. Here’s how…”. There just isn’t anyone like that…if I’m proven wrong then there’s a model of recover to study. Yay. Solutions not coping mechanisms. Thank you.

Struggling1
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Psychiatry, psychology, CBT, Interpersonal Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, medication after medication and every day remains painful. How do you create hope?

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