I think I'm depressed

Hello. Have just read your site and found it helpful. I need some help with 2 things I've been struggling to deal with. I was wondering if as an outside observer you might help me see these things in a different light.

1. I live in-country Australia and my husband works 5 days a week in the city, home at night. we have a daughter with us. I have been trying to get over a pretty heavy case of what I now think is anxiety/depression and I've found the isolation 5 days a week really hard to handle. I am too weak to go out unfortunately so I feel powerless over these horrid feelings that wash all day once my husband goes to work. I've tried valiantly to be ok about the isolation but do you think it is too much isolation and it is hindering me recovering. we don't have friends out here so I don't see anyone but our daughter all day.

2. Because of the horror of the feelings and symptoms I spend all day on the net trying to find a cure. looking into health and natural causes as well as emotional. Is this constant researching just feeding the depression and if so how do I stop it because of the isolation I can't bear to just have my thoughts and feelings to deal with without a mental break.

I do hope you might be able to spot something here for me, i've tried looking at it and my head is so foggy I just don't know how to work it out or get around it. there are no councillors here and most people I've talked to either don't understand or believe I should be digging into my past which I have just read on your site it the worse thing to do. I'm so glad to read that because I was trying to dig but it was making me feel real sick and worse. If you can point out anything with these 2 questions I would really appreciate it.

This question was submitted by 'Jess'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

You know when I read what you've written here reminds me how essential basic needs are for all of us. Being so isolated there might be something wrong if you didn't feel lonely or panicky or isolated in just the same way as someone who didn't feel thirsty when dehydrated or pain when injured or hungry when undernourished would have something wrong with them. We all of us have needs for:

  • Having a sense of security in life - safe territory and an environment that allows us to develop fully.
  • Attention (to give and receive it)
  • A sense of autonomy and control - having freedom to make responsible choices.
  • Emotional intimacy - to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, 'warts and all'.
  • Feeling part of a wider community.
  • Privacy - opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience to avoid 'overwhelm'.
  • A sense of status within social groupings; clear roles in life.A sense of competence and achievement.
  • Meaning and purpose - which come from being stretched in what we do and think.

It's not that all these needs need ('needs need!?') to be met perfectly all the time but if one or more of them start to be chronically under met then we can signal to ourselves in the form of anxiety and low mood and so on that we need to meet this need. What's more, although we share these needs, just as some people need to eat more food than others, so too do some folk need more attention or social contact or to feel more meaning than others. None of this is pathological. This isn't to say that there aren't things you can do to help calm down, relax and feel more positive but ultimately you might just need to see more people during the day which is normal.

I wonder what you have been depressed about? Anyone given too much isolation can dwell inwards too much and eventually feel depressed. Did you feel this way when you had more contact? Or is it something else do you think. The worst thing we can do is to overcomplicate especially when it comes to treating what is so often just natural feelings of unhappiness. So in short it might not be therapy or meds you need but company.

I hope this makes sense but feel free to email back.

I got a follow up email from Jess a couple of days later:

Thank you so much for your email and taking the time to answer my question. To have someone experienced on the outside take a look and comment has really helped me heaps. I thought about it and realised I've never been a depressed person before, it's only been in the last 4 years while living in such isolation. I can look back and see it was slowly taking it's toll until something really stressful happened and I really needed someone there with me at the time it happened and no-one was there and no-one could come, including my husband as his work was very hectic at that time. I can see it was just like the straw that broke the camels back.

Wow, thank you again, this has really helped me a lot. It's also given me the strength to get some blood tests done just to make sure that nothing else is going on underneath health wise that might have been making it hard to get better.

You know the funny thing I see now is how our upbringing can play a hand in things. I was raised on a farm, not as isolated as here but still probably about only 40% of the contact I actually needed with other people. I wasn't allowed to have close freinds so never had that growing up either. My husband was raised in a caravan due to his father needing a long break to get over 5 ulcers from overworking. The doctor told them to pack up and travel which worked great for my father in law but my husband was basically raised never making strong ties with other people. So that fact that my husband loves privacy and time to himself, that seems to be his biggest need looking at your list, made it really hard for me to get the affirmation I needed about needing company. I hope this makes sense but after your email I can see it all a lot clearer.

I thought in my heart that maybe it was just the isolation but because my family never acknowledged my need for company and my husband loves privacy I thought there must be something wrong with me. But now I can see that I am just different and that I will always need more company than my husband will and that that is ok and perfectly normal for me.

Thank you again so much for your email. We have decided to move into the city to be closer to our friends and Church and I believe that will really make a huge difference for me. My husband will also get the privacy he needs as he loves fishing and the city is on the coast so there is plenty of fishing.

Thank you so much, because of your email I think my husband was able to see that the need for company was not wrong and that he now understands better about this. Thank you again.

watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - January 3rd, 2014 in

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