Observing My Own Decline

Depression’s downward spiral

Ashley Peterson
Nov 9 · 3 min read
Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

It can be strange to watch patterns in life without having all that much control over them.

The particular pattern I’ve been noticing lately is functional decline.

I have major depressive disorder, and it’s been 3 1/2 years since my illness was last in remission. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s treatment-resistant, and I’ve gotten used to managing the symptoms on a day-to-day basis.

When I step back a bit, though, from the day-to-day stuff, there’s an undeniable pattern that has emerged. I’m becoming less functional as a human being every year.

I started off high-functioning — well-educated, and job that I really liked that also happened to pay well. Then the job went, with the help of workplace bullying, and so the slide downhill began.

After almost a year of unemployment, I found a couple of casual jobs. I wasn’t working fulltime hours, but I was working every week. Then that wasn’t working out, and I cut way back on my hours. Long story short, it’s now just one job with very minimal hours.

I started off with friends plural, but now I’ve just got friend singular. I can’t deal with my family. I’m pretty content as a hermit, but I realize that’s not really functional human being mode.

I used to do various activities outside the home, but steadily those stopped working and fell by the wayside. Now my main out-of-the-house activity is grocery shopping, and even that is challenging because my head just doesn’t work properly.

As everything else has faded away, writing and the rest of my online existence has become the main thing that lends meaning and purpose to my life. I’m grateful for that, and I hope it will last a long time.

Still, when I do take that step back from the trees and look at the forest, it’s frightening. It’s uncertain, and I don’t know what it would look like if the decline continues. I don’t know how to stop it and I’m not sure that it can be stopped; this may just be the cards that my illness has dealt me.

I’ve already grieved the loss of well me, but still haven’t quite come to grips yet with the loss of functional me, perhaps because of how frightening it is.

It’s difficult to think of a future where I can do less than I do now.

So I keep going. I try not to think too much about the forest, and focus instead on putting one foot in front of the other each day. If the decline continues, I will manage it, step by step, day by day.

After all, I have survived this much.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

This story is published in a Few Words, Medium’s publication that only accepts stories under 500 words.

If you have a few meaningful words to say and want to be a writer in our publication, visit here.

a Few Words

A few words can change lives.

Ashley Peterson

Written by

Mental health blogger, nurse, living with depression. Author of Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis and Psych Meds Made Simple. https://mentalhealthathome.org

a Few Words

A few words can change lives.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade