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I think what surprised me most was how it can sneak up on you. I didn't realize for a long time that you can be depressed and not know it. When I was first diagnosed, I took meds for about three months and felt so great. But my therapist was going on maternity leave anyway, so I just stopped everything because I thought I was cured. Well, I had no idea until many months later how deeply I slipped back into depression until I almost lost a good friend and my marriage over it. I went back to both therapy and meds, and am doing so much better. --cl-themadhugger
For me it has to do with my notion of reality. When we're little, we only recognize one reality (our own), and as we age we understand that others have different realities. I guess I've realized that my reality has been and will always be filtered through the lens of depression. My childhood had none of the violence and rottenness that some of you have dealt with, but I was still a very melancholy and painfully shy child. I doubt I would have turned out as "normal" as I have if I hadn't had a perceptive, loving mother and a dad dealing with his own melancholy nature.
What surprised me most about depression is that it is a lifelong illness. The birth of my first child is what triggered my depression. I got treatment shortly after the birth of my second child. At that time, I thought as soon as my children were a little older I'd have an easier time of it. When they become a little more independent and I can take care of myself more, then I'll feel better and can get off my meds. My children are six and seven now. I'm pretty sure that depression is something I will have to be on the lookout for and deal with for the rest of my life. Even if I manage to get off meds someday, I will have to watch for relapses. I'll be able to feel better, but I'll never be cured. --sierradawn