Touched by Sadness

I have a condition labeled dysthymia. I was diagnosed about eight years ago after enduring a very traumatic six-month-long, unrelenting series of events. The psychotherapist who was helping me believes, as do I, that I have had dysthymia most or all of my life, but it was this specific episode that drove me to seek help. I am aware of having unusual sadness and thoughts of death as early as age nine. 

This was an Easter morning long ago with my
younger brother, who was my best friend
for most of my childhood and youth.  
Many childhood pictures show me crying.
You can read about dysthymia at the Harvard Medical School Publications website here, but the short version from that site is in the two paragraphs below.

The Greek word dysthymia means “bad state of mind” or “ill humor.” As one of the two chief forms of clinical depression, it usually has fewer or less serious symptoms than major depression but lasts longer. The American Psychiatric Association defines dysthymia as depressed mood most of the time for at least two years, along with at least two of the following symptoms: poor appetite or overeating; insomnia or excessive sleep; low energy or fatigue; low self-esteem; poor concentration or indecisiveness; and hopelessness.

Dysthymia is a serious disorder. It is not “minor” depression, and it is not a condition intermediate between severe clinical depression and depression in the casual colloquial sense. In some cases it is more disabling than major depression. Still, dysthymia is so similar to major depression that the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual also suggests, as a possibility for further investigation, an alternative definition with symptoms including anhedonia, social withdrawal, guilt, and irritability but not appetite or sleep disturbance. The purpose is to distinguish dysthymia more clearly from major depression by emphasizing mood and personal relations over physical symptoms.

The second paragraph comes the closest to describing my symptoms.  I do not have appetite or sleep disturbance issues.  (I'm REALLY GOOD at sleeping.  It's one of my favorite things to do.) Social withdrawal is one of my main challenges, along with constant fatigue and feelings of hopelessness.