What Do You Do When You Feel the Depression Returning?

The title is not a rhetorical question… Bipolar folks: what do you do when you feel the depression is returning?

I always thought I was a naturally upbeat, productive person, who just periodically went through some rough patches.  The rough patches never seemed inevitable though; it was just unfortunate when they happened – and then I got over them.

Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder a little over a year ago changed all that.  For the first time I knew the depression was inevitable – It wasn’t just a quirk that everything fell apart periodically; it was part of who I am.

As someone who is more or less newly diagnosed as bipolar I’m curious as to what some of the “veterans” out there have discovered – How do you know the depression is returning?  And more importantly, what do you do about it?

For me, I don’t know the depression is returning until I’m already deep within it.  For me that looks like not caring about anything, and losing the will to do whatever project my mania had me engrossed in.  My hypomanic bestowed superpowers disappear slowly and subtly; perhaps over a week?  Maybe two?

I take medication.  I go to therapy.  But trying to halt depression, or even just slow it down feels about as useful as trying to block a river with my hands.

Matt is a husband, father, and professional who was recently diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder. He is the owner of Loudest Minds, a site with humorous and informative posts to help those suffering with mental illness and addiction.

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17 Replies to “What Do You Do When You Feel the Depression Returning?”

  1. I’m feeling this. I’ve noticed my depression coming back recently. I just get so exhausted I can’t function. My mind recycles the same dark stories, over and over. I try my hardest to stay busy, to get out of the house, to do things, to talk to people, to plan. It’s a definite struggle though.

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  2. I don’t have your diagnosis, but do have Chiari Malformation. The illness has brought on depression which was diagnosed last year. Also with anxiety and agoraphobia. I’m taking medication and am going to therapy. There isn’t a quick fix, medication – what can I say, it numbs my body enough not to feel as though the world is caving in. 🤷🏽‍♀️ But it’s about trying to live as stress free as possible, I try not to surround myself with negative people – as I do that so well already, and take things as they come. Day by day, no need to rush. Also, I try not to over react to things I can not change. It’s hard, but I push through it, when I think I can’t do it, then I stop to think as to who I’m doing all this pushing for if not myself – that’s when I start to push for my family. It’s a repetitive and you do what you need to do to make your days manageable. Blessings to you Matt. The beauty in all this is that we’re not alone, there’s someone somewhere going through what you’re going through. 🙏🏽

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    1. Take it day by day, don’t surround yourselves with negative people… that’s great advice that I’m trying to follow 🙂 Easier said than done sometimes of course. I appreciate the comment, thank you for reading as always 🙂

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      1. I know, it’s an advice that requires a bit of internal struggle. Of course Matt! I enjoy the deep thoughts on issues too many are on the fence to write about. 🙏🏽

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  3. I’m also experiencing this. I know my depression is coming back when I stop going to work and stop doing self-care things like showering or brushing my teeth (gross, I know). I’m sorry you go through this.

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  4. For me it starts with a lack of energy. Fatigue is a red flag for me. Because the next step is the thoughts. The bad thoughts that allow me to spiral down the chasm. Not caring about anything is another flag for me. If I am doing something that normally gives me joy and it doesn’t anymore, I need to stop and take a look at what is going on and watch my next steps. Knowing the signs help me to know at least which direction I’m going. After 15 years of playing this song and dance, I’ll be damned if I have figured out how to stop any of it. Mania? No problem! I can stop myself from doing stupid things, I had over my bank card, I don’t go shopping, I stay inside and stay away from social situations. Depression? Haven’t figured that bastard out yet. It’s like a bad accident you are driving by on the highway. You can’t help but get lost in it. That is how it is for me anyway.

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    1. I can’t help it either. It’s devastating – sometimes I see it coming, and I know what it is, but I crash right into it anyways.

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  5. Something I just read today “If I acknowledge [the sadness], it tends to leave me be.” So basically just acknowledging oh hey Im getting depressed again instead of saying no its alright I’m just sad today. This helps. Alot. Because once you acknowledge it, it becomes more easier to notice the change.

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    1. I think I’m going to try that! Recognizing it for what it is should help – especially knowing that it will pass.

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    2. Love that! Yes, it’s alright. I think with by society standards, one is suppose to be cheery and happy and look, I have a family and wonderful husband, the van and all! Why are you sad?! It’s a negative stigma no matter what. But, it’s OK, it’s alright, I’m NOT everyone else, I’m me, and I’m going to do right by me. 🙂

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  6. I love the analogy of holding back the river with your hands.
    The best thing is supportive, understanding people -that I need to remember to watch my tongue around.
    After that, following the routine. Reminding myself over and over that it’s just the cycle. It’s just the cycle. It’s just -*gurgle* *gurgle* -till I can somewhat surface again.

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  7. 🙂 I think remembering the cycle is key. Remembering that this too shall pass. It’s just so hard when you’re in it. And I am thankful and blessed to be surrounded by understanding people – both in my “real” life and on here as well!

    Thank you Chelsea 🙂

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  8. Sometimes it helps if you have the people around you look out for the signs that you’re starting to get depressed. If they know what’s going on, they can help you spot it and make recommendations for things that have helped you in the past (i.e. remind you of things that are so easy to forget in a state of depression). It could be your family, friends, or therapist–anyone who sees you frequently that you trust.

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  9. My energy level plummets to zero and that’s how I know. For me it’s gradual but they key is the energy. When I don’t want to wake up for work or leave the house to take naps it’s there. I began journaling a lot as well and I can see it in my own words. Catching it before it’s rough is what helps me.

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  10. I’m not bipolar, but I have depression and anxiety. As mentioned in another comment above, I know the depression is getting bad, when I stop caring about hygiene. I will also stop listening to music, which is usually a huge part of my day. The steps leading up to that stage are subtle, though, and I’ve never found a way to really head off the depressive episode.

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