06 Sep The Sky Is Blue
The Sky Is Blue
Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Thomas Lee
“My sky is black,” Jane (not her real name) sobbed. “Filled with dark clouds, not a light through.” Jane’s tears kept flowing during the entire interview session as she poured out her problems.
She had been feeling down for the past six months. She described how she had to struggle through each day with her mood down in the basement. “I hate to wake up every morning. The very thought of having to battle through the rest of the day just makes me feel worse. I cannot muster enough energy or motivation to do whatever I need to do,” she said.
“I can’t focus. My mind wanders off so easily. It’s like I’m in dreamland all the time. I can’t remember things well now … very forgetful. I may be in a meeting or staring at the TV screen, but I don’t remember what was discussed or what the story was about. I have to read and re-read even a simple sentence many times before it registers in my head.”
“I feel extremely irritable and jumpy. I can’t control my emotions. I become an angry person. I yell at people, at my friends and even my bosses! Very often, I had to excuse myself from an important meeting — abruptly — just so that I could run to the nearest restroom to cry. I cry at home, on the bus to work, when I meet my people ….. I just don’t understand why I cry so easily.”
“I have lost all interest in meeting people and friends. There is no longer any joy in stuff that I used to love to do. I don’t even feel like bathing.”
Insomnia was a nightly problem that she had to struggle with. She had trouble falling asleep every night. Also, she was easily startled in her sleep and woke up several times a night. The exhaustion from the lack of adequate sleep prevented her from functioning properly at work.
Appetite became negligible. “I don’t eat much now. Just nibble a bit each day just to survive. I’ve lost 10 pounds in two months.”
“I feel so lousy about what’s happening around me. I don’t know why … but I just blame myself for everything that goes wrong.” Then, she paused for a long while and stared into space before continuing, “Sometimes, I just don’t feel like living through this torture anymore. I want to disappear forever.”
It was a good long session. Jane hadn’t been able to share her pains and sorrows until now. It wasn’t because she had no one to talk to. She felt embarrassed to talk to somebody about what she was going through. She was fearful of being labelled ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’. So she chose to suffer in silence.
Jane suffered from a severe depressive disorder called Major Depression. It is a medical condition that is serious enough to incapacitate a person and disrupt his or her ability to cope with day-to-day living. Usual simple tasks at home, work or school can become laborious and wearying. A depressed person often sees the world as dark or even black. Nothing seems positive.
Early recognition of depression is important so that treatment can be rendered as early as possible. Medication is the primary and most effective treatment in Major Depression. Psychological therapy and counselling are also useful and effective.
Treatment wasn’t easy at the start as Jane struggled to overcome the barrier of accepting that she had depression and that she needed treatment. She had feared that this would further reinforce the label of her being ‘mad’. However, with the support of family and close friends, Jane eventually recovered with treatment. She regained her health and her ability to work and play, renewed relationships with her family, friends and colleagues, and most importantly, restored her confidence and self-esteem. “The world is brighter now, as it has always been,” she said during one of her follow-up sessions with me.
“The sky is blue.”