Out of the blue: the daily experience with Major Depressive Disorder

Here we propose the extracts of two narratives collected within the project Fuori dal blu (Out of the blue), which aims to carry out the listening to people living the Major Depressive Disorder, their caregivers and health professionals, through a systematic collection of narratives. Through writing, we want to identify further aspects of everyday life with this disorder, and influencing elements. The project is sponsored by the Italian Society of Neuropsychopharmacology (SINPF), the Italian Society of Psychiatry and the ONDA Foundation, and receives the unconditional support of Lundbeck Italia.

I believe I have always lived in a depressive state. Despite this, I have had an active social life since I was a teenager. I have participated in parish and volunteering groups. It gave me strength to believe in something. I was an idealist and dreamed of a different world. When I entered the world of work, I realised that I could not conform to reality.

I have always lived with a mask, and I appeared socially accepted. I had a stable relationship that could contain my compulsions. Then everything changed, I left this person and I started dating people who used cocaine and drank, and my inhibitors stopped failing. I had the illusion of being able to change my life, but it was a failure, and I fell into a severe depression. I felt that my life was over, with no perspectives. Death was the only escape route. […] I wanted to no longer exist, or perhaps I was waiting for someone to come and save me. To look after me. I couldn’t do it alone. I didn’t want to conform to this society. […]

When I lost everything, I realised that I was afraid of dying. My body rebelled and my heart started beating wildly. I asked for help […] and so I started a slow path. […]

Today the most important thing is that I no longer have anxiety. Despite being still in great difficulty (mostly economic), I can face reality. I have resumed a satisfying social life. I want to continue the path begun with the desire to have an independent life from all points of view. I don’t want to look at the past, to feel anxiety and distress, and to have a paralysis feeling. I feel fit. I started taking care of myself again. With others I am serene and everyone has noticed it. I am pleasant and empathetic. I have good friends. […] Living is always difficult, but I know that I can do it. I am less scared and I commit myself to live day by day. It’s not easy sometimes, I have some failures but also the ability to recover.

– Woman, 61 years old

When I was twenty, I fell into a deep crisis for the first time. I left university after having passed the first exam. I felt deeply down in my spirits. I was struggling to sleep. I couldn’t stay with the others and so I closed myself at home. I felt void for not being able to make things interact with others and to be prevented with the other sex. I wanted to stay indoors and not hear anyone. I didn’t want to go out, do all the things I normally did. I no longer listened to music, my great passion, nor did I use computers, another passion of mine […]. I was always anxious. I didn’t know how to explain what I had to my parents. Struggling to get to sleep and waking up early in the morning. I ate, though not with hunger. […] I liked locking myself in the room. Being in bed and isolating myself from everything and everyone. I saw everything negative.

Living was a torture. Each day was equal to the other. The pleasures cleared. No hope in the future.

Today I feel good, even though I still have relapses, especially during the winter and the changing seasons. I started working again and I’m much better. I want to do everything I’ve always liked. […] I try to stay more with people, since my illness has led me to isolate myself and to have no friends. At work I have the bulk of contacts with other people. I must try to resume relations even with other people outside of work. I don’t want to fall back into my dark negative periods.

When I am well, I also feel good with others. At work I made some friends, especially women, since in the warehouse three quarters are female. With some of them I was able to open up and talk about my problems and create good friendships. Unfortunately, the illness limits a lot my friendships outside workplace, and the continuity in friendships. As for love, I am strongly limited by the disease. I hope to improve in the future.

When I feel good, I also take life enthusiastically. There are dark phases that are critical and difficult to overcome. I am very satisfied with the care and the professionals I currently have. I think that in the past I was treated and not followed as well as now. I had many different psychiatrists and I was followed in my health district. Now I feel I can count on more valid help and I also feel good with the doctors following me.

For tomorrow, I hope to continue on the right path I have taken.

– Man, 45 years old

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