February 15, 2020
Imagine walking on a tightrope between two skyscrapers, and the tightrope is as thin as a hair. There is no net, only the streets, dozens of stories below. Now imagine that your tiny rope is slippery, and it is all you can do to keep your balance at all. This analogy is what it can sometimes be like to walk the tightrope of depression, trying to avoid becoming suicidal.
Losing Your Footing
You were diagnosed with depression, you have been through treatment, but somehow, you feel a familiar pattern creeping back into your life. A pattern where maybe you feel irritable or hopeless or overwhelmed, where perhaps your sleep patterns change for the worse. These and likely other symptoms are all indicators of depression. After having been through it at least once before, you can start to recognize the impending darkness.
There are plenty of reasons you can feel like you are losing your footing to depression. The medical treatment you are receiving may need to be adjusted, or perhaps you weren’t able to follow it 100 percent. You may have stressors or other environmental factors that are causing the onset of another episode. If you missed too much sleep, weren’t able to exercise, or so many other factors, you could be slipping into depression again. Why isn’t as important as how to stop it before it becomes dangerous.
Before the Fall
There are plenty of people who suffer from depression throughout their entire lives and never become suicidal. Then there are people who become depressed and within a day or two are suicidal. As well as everything in between. That is the problem with depression – it is completely unpredictable. Even within the same person, something can happen that sends you crashing down, and then it is too late.
It is important to listen to your body and your mind to be able to recognize depression as early as possible. The earlier you treat depression, the safer you are from suicidal thoughts or worse. If you can recognize it well before the fall, the way is much less slippery and your life is that much more secure.
No Rescue Needed
When you are proactive in taking care of your mental health, you can avoid the need to be rescued. You can check in with yourself every day to know how you are doing mentally, and if you notice a pattern that points to depression, you can get help early.
You can practice your self-care, including a good diet and regular exercise, both of which are so important in keeping depression away. You can stay in touch with the people from your support network, who can give you feedback if they see changes in your mood or behavior. You can also practice all of the skills that you learned in treatment, including emotion and stress management, mindfulness, and communication skills. If you practice preventative care for your depression, you are far less likely to need crisis care.
Better Safe than Sorry
Sometimes you may be unsure if you are slipping into depression, or if it is serious enough to call a doctor or seek other treatment. Given the unpredictable nature and the fact that your life could be on the line, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you have any doubts, always make that call.
At the very least, if you are still functioning well, give yourself a time limit of 24-48 hours to closely evaluate your mood and also your behaviors, and then make that call. When you invoke the help of your support network, they can sometimes see patterns and behaviors from the outside that you may not have noticed from the inside. Again, your life is too valuable to take any chances with. When in doubt, seek help. There is no more appropriate place to exercise the ‘better safe than sorry’ guideline than when it comes to your life.
Avoid the Tightrope
There are people who suffer one depressive episode and then never have depression again. They are the exception, rather than the rule. More than likely, you will need to defend yourself against depression for the rest of your life. It may seem like a lot of effort, but it gets easier with practice.
This is not unlike any other chronic medical issue, like diabetes, for example. Diabetes often includes diet and lifestyle changes as well as medical monitoring and sometimes medication for the rest of your life once you are diagnosed. In fact, the preventative measures that you make to safeguard yourself against depression are just healthy for anyone at all in life, even the regular medical monitoring. With an ounce of prevention, you could avoid the tightrope altogether, and certainly save your life.
The problem with depression is that you actually never know when you are going to become suicidal. It is very dangerous to wait around to find out, because by the time you figure it out, it could be too late. You can use everything you learned in treatment to diagnose your depression early on, well before you become suicidal. Using all of the skills and tools that you have can keep you off of the tightrope and out of danger. Be proactive with your life. It could literally save your life.
Remember the preventative measures you can take against depression. Potomac Programs can be your reference point in treating your depression. Call 1-855-809-0409.