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Depression and Me
By Nelson Berigtold, Member, GMHF Board of Directors
November 2008

I do not know when I began suffering from depression. I do know when my wife Nancy told me that she was suffering from my depression. She told me that I had become withdrawn, somewhat reclusive, and easily angered when my “comfort” was broken or my routine was changed—even by small things like requests for fixing things or doing errands.

I did not act on this right away. I suppose it was denial and the mistaken idea that a master’s degree social worker could “fix it himself”. So things went along and evidently changed only for the worse until a few months later Nancy gave me a further report (ultimatum) on my depression as she saw it. I consulted with my doctor at my next visit and he prescribed a medication and told me that if it helped that I was probably depressed. This seemed logical to me. I must have been depressed as the medication helped some, according to Nancy.

Years passed with one increase in the dosage of my medicine. I was depending on Nancy and my best friend (also in depression) for observation and reporting on my behavior. I needed observation and pressure from others.

Retirement added to my problems. I began to feel useless and a sense of failure began as I looked for part-time work and was very unsuccessful. Rejection added to the feelings and I finally asked my doctor for a referral for therapy. I began seeing my therapist almost immediately and saw him once a week for almost a year. We determined that my expectations of myself had been unrealistic for most of my life and were fueling my depression. I began to expect less of myself and to forgive myself more. I am still taking a prescribed medication and life is better according to Nancy, my friends, and me.

My advice would be to help others to get help for depression if you care about them and to get help for yourself if you suspect that your depression is hurting those around you. Don’t put it off—years in depression are lost years in many ways. Don’t remain isolated—feeling alone just magnifies depression.