Climbing Out of the Dark Hole of Depression

Stephanie Towler avatar

by Stephanie Towler |

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic illness accompanied by various symptoms. Depression is one of the most common. Depression is a shape-shifter and affects one’s life in different ways.

The dark hole

Imagine one week everything is fine. You’re known for being a social butterfly and you hang out with friends. The next week, you turn down all of your plans with friends, crawl into bed whenever you get the chance, and ignore all of your text messages. This is when I fall into the “dark hole.” It’s a destination I visit frequently, often not by choice.

Sometimes I slowly ease down into this dark hole, and other times, I dive in headfirst. Once I’m there, it’s like all of my stressors start piling up and I cannot escape. 

Different scenarios play in my head that cause me to question my purpose and existence. I start to talk down to myself and believe that depression is a consequence of my actions. Positive stories on social media make me want to escape this negative mindset, but it’s like the ghosts of my depression pull me back down into the hole. At times, it feels like I’m never going to climb out. 

Learning to cope

I have learned to cope in different ways. Journaling is something I do now more than ever. It allows the negativity that is fueling this depressive state to be released. I also have someone in my life that I can vent to without judgment. Having a person in your life that can be that outlet when you need to escape the negativity is very beneficial. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a national help line for those who don’t have such an outlet.

What are some other ways to cope with depression? Please share your suggestions in the comments below. And thank you to everyone who commented on my first column! I think it’s amazing to see so many people in my generation who have experienced MS in the same way I have. We are all fighting this battle together. Stay strong!


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Jeanette Williams avatar

Jeanette Williams

Being outside helps me the most when that hole is calling me. Working in the garden and enjoying nature are the most effective. My doctor wants me to add another AD my treatment plan but I really don’t want to do that.

Lloyd Swift avatar

Lloyd Swift

For depression, taking an anti depressant should be the first line of defense.


PS: I've had MS for 42 years.

Jackie b avatar

Jackie b

Same here, 43 years the depression is awful, I am on sertraline, been on it for years now, every time I come off, I go down very quickly. After the news lately I questioned taking them, but I still have to kick myself out of the miseries , while on them. I have put on weight, thought I could place the tablets, but I know when miserable I eat and drink to much, and also sit about for to long, I think that depression is a self destruct for me.
Waffle over.

Mark Reaney avatar

Mark Reaney

Studies show, and I agree, that a combination of anti-depressants and therapy work better than either does alone. But do your homework. I blindly started taking Abilify and it almost killed me. Finding myself living alone after many years, keeping very busy is the thing that helps me most.

PS. You win Lloyd. I've only had 32 years.

Betsy avatar


Doodle, write stories, pet kitties...anything that takes me from There to Here. Kitties work best when they're being needy.

Trish avatar


I agree with Lloyd,
Seek a Psychiatrist to find a medication that works fir you. It can be just like someone has turned in the lights for you. I even discovered that I actually am productive and WANTING to go do things I know I enjoy, including exercise and being outdoors. One piece of the puzzle for me is also an ADHD med to help with fatigue, brain fog and depression as well. I know meds aren’t for everyone, but I refuse to have MS change who I am and what I can & can’t do.

Shay avatar


I really think an adhd med is what I need to get me up and moving. I have just had a heart work up and that is all healthy. What do I say to my doctor to get him to consider this. I am on 90 mg of cymbalta

matthew sturt avatar

matthew sturt

hi . i'm not on any drug after coming off mirtazapine a few months back . i'm scared off heights and the new doctors surgery is up one storey . my bedroom is downstairs as i cant go upstairs .

K. Dixon avatar

K. Dixon

Hello Mark,
Year wise, I am with you. I was diagnosed in 1987, but Lloyd, with 42 years under your belt I am listening to you. I am 73 and walk unsteadily with a quad cane on the occasions that I go out; I use a rolling walker at home. I escape bouts of depression by playing Mah Jong weekly with one group of friends, and poker monthly with another group of friends. Socialization and friendships are great healers; but perhaps this comes more easily to us girls? Within the last two years I have also found that hemp products do facilitate a bit of relief from pain and therefore depression.
May G_d bless and comfort all of the above responders >


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