About Beyond Depression

About the Author

My name is Jack Hope and I’m 32 years old. I am originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where I currently temporarily reside with my family while I am recovering from an episode of Clinical Depression. I have one younger sister and a cat named Samwise.

I am an avid traveler and have visited 20 different countries and territories on three continents. I lived in Taipei, Taiwan for 2 years working as a foreign English teacher. Some of the notable destinations I have visited include Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Great Wall of China, the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, and Special Administrative Region of Macau.

In my spare time I enjoy reading, hiking, camping and kayaking, as well as writing fiction. I am a fan of the British Science Fiction television programme, Doctor Who, as well as the recent re-make of Battlestar Galactica and of course, Star Trek.

My Story

To understand my experience of Clinical Depression I have written this brief summary of my own journey. I had my first Depressive episode when I was 15 years old, which manifested itself through a variety of symptoms, most notably a substantial decline in my grades and a persistent sense of fatigue and despair. It was brought to the attention of my parents and myself by a High School guidance counselor who referred me to a psychologist through Calgary’s Catholic Family Services (by an odd quirk of the Canadian Constitution, provinces like Alberta are required to maintain separate Catholic schools and social services) who provided me with cognitive behavioural therapy which effectively treated this episode. By the end of Grade 11 I was no longer in a Depressed state. I honestly never expected to experience Depression like that again.

It was not to be. At the beginning of my second year of college I fell into another Depressive episode, again characterized by fatigue, despair and falling grades. I eventually had to drop out, which was a heartbreaking experience. To this day, my first year of college stands out as one of the most amazing, intellectually stimulating and exciting time in my life. Leaving absolutely crushed me. Despite an attempt, a psychologist was not able to help me recover. I was briefly on an anti-depressant but I found it to be unhelpful and I was, in general, opposed to the use of anti-depressants.

Eventually I recovered, however, as would become the pattern for much of my twenties, my recovery was less than complete. I experienced several smaller episodes throughout my twenties and each time I would recover, however I would not recover to my previous level. Each recovery was a little less than 100%. Over the course of the years, this steady erosion would leave me experiencing almost a constant low-level Depression.

It is sometimes difficult for people to understand why I refer to this as a ‘lost decade’ especially considering the things that I did do, travel, prospering in a career, maintain a stable relationship, but in retrospect, I can see how I was slowly worn down by Depression. By steadfastly refusing to consider medication as part of a solution to my struggles, I continued to ensure that I would suffer with little relief.

It was inevitable that a break would eventually come. And it came a few years ago, not long after I moved to Vancouver, BC. There were a string of losses leading up to it, the end of my relationship with my ex-partner Peter, leaving behind a job that I had loved and a loss of hope in the future. This last episode has been by far the worst and I now have optimism that I may finally be leaving it behind, although there has been more than one false start over the last few years.

It’s hard to underestimate the magnitude of what Depression has taken from me: Years that I can never get back. Broken relationships and disruption of my life. Lost opportunities. Despite this all, I still feel both a sense of optimism and gratitude. Because I know some simple truths now, that I didn’t know before.

Depression is a life long medical struggle.  I will never be wholly free of it. But I do believe I can find a place of healing, a place beyond depression.

Recovery is possible. Life can be good again.

Links About Me

The following is some of the important links about me that you may find of interest.

Unmasked Profile on Saratonin
‘Lost’ An Ultra-short Story in the Turtle Way Journal

Why Beyond Depression?

Major Depressive Disorder is a serious, chronic medical condition.  I know that I will carry it with me forever.

Nonetheless, I have to believe that one day, this will be a part of my past.  That I will be living the life that I have always wanted.  It is an ambitious goal from where I am sitting, but it’s the only one I can accept.  It is better to shoot for the moon and fail, then to settle for suffering without end.

I define going ‘Beyond Depression’ in the following way:

I will be beyond depression when I reach a state in which the management of this condition will not significantly impair my ability to make meaningful choices about the direction of my life.

You can read about how I arrived at this on my posts Momentum and Momentum Re-visited.

An Open Letter to Terry?

We live in the age of the letter. The letters are now electronic, the prose not as precise, the grammar may be changing faster than we can keep up, but at no time in human history have more people ever communicated as frequently or as constantly with the written word as they do now.

Being a person of letters is an option open to all.

Many of the posts written on this blog take the form of open letters to Terry. Originally this blog was subtitled, ‘An Open Letter to Terry.’ Terry is a real person.  I am not using her real name although I believe if she stumbled upon this blog she would rather quickly recognize that it is written to her.

She is my best friend.  And for a number of reasons, many related to my depressive episode, we are no longer in contact and with no real prospect of being in contact again anytime soon.

I am in part reaching out through my writings to her, in the hopes that one day we will be able to reconcile.

As my blog has expanded and the reach of my writing increased, I have found myself writing a wider variety of postings then just letters to Terry. So I have chosen to move on from this blog being solely written to her and adopting a wider posting style.

Letters to Terry will continue to be an integral component of this blog until the day comes when we are able to reconcile.

Here is a sample of some of the letters that I have written:

A Letter to a Friend Who’s Not Here
Two Steps Backwards in Hopes of One Giant Leap Forward
The Wreckage of my Life
Happy Anniversary
Two to Go

You can find all of the letters here:

Letters to Terry

Dramatis Personae

I do make mention of other people in my life from time to time on this blog. Here is a brief guide to the people in my life. All names have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty alike.

Peter: my ex-partner from a number of years back, whom like Terry, I have not had any contact with for quite sometime.

Andrew: my other best friend, who has been an absolute rock during my struggles. Andrew has been a friend since high school, now over half my life which I can’t believe sometimes.

Kevin: another very close friend who has been extremely supportive during my recent struggle.  Also a friend of very long-standing.

Charlotte: a close friend also from my high school days. Charlotte is one of the most unique people I know and I one of the most supportive in particular of my writing endeavours.

Julie: another friend whom I have lost contact with, whom I built a friendship with through a series of old-fashioned snail mail correspondence. You can see a sample letter written to her here: Thursday February 20, 2011

Daryl: a friend of long-standing whom I had lost contact with during my depressive episodes, with whom I was able to recently reconcile. You can read about Daryl here: Two to Go

Angela: a good friend from Germany, who has recently invited me to attend her wedding. As of this writing, it appears that I am going to be able to attend. You can find writings related to her upcoming wedding here: Angela’s Wedding.

Doctor Z: my psychiatrist here in Alberta who I was able to start seeing after making it through Alberta Health Services’ brutally long waiting lists. You can read about Doctor Z here: Report from the Psychiatric Trenches

Kitchen Status?

Occasionally on some of my update posts you may see at the beginning a ‘Kitchen Status’ usually colour coded with red, orange, yellow and green. I noticed a little while ago the cleanliness of my kitchen was directly tied to my state of mind.

Since I’ve noticed that, I’ve found that summing up the state of my kitchen in a ‘Kitchen Status’ report is a good way to express my mental state on a given day.

Since I have been staying with my family however, my mother has been ensuring clean kitchens and an otherwise clean house. Therefore, this is not being used right now, however I suspect once I resume living on my own (with luck sooner rather than later) this will resume being a part of my blog updates.

Old Pages

Much of the material for this page was drawn from previous pages that I had. Many of those pages were commented on by some of the readers of this blog. Given that others were kind of enough to share their thoughts, I am not removing the pages from my site and I am instead maintaining links here to them. These pages will no longer be updated or otherwise maintained.

About the Author
Who is Terry?
Why Beyond Depression?
Kitchen Status?

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