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Saturday, 22 August 2015

I Got That Summertime, Summertime Sadness: Fragments of Two Weeks of Severe Depression

This blog post is a fragmentary group of paragraphs that don't hang together. That's because I'm not 
hanging together very well. I could use a number of similes or metaphors to describe it.

Oh my God, I feel it in the air, telephone wires above, are sizzling...

I am a bag of marbles (I haven't lost them) that are clacking against each other noisily and awkwardly and painfully. I am a collection of smiles and tears and laughter and sleeping and wakefulness. I am lost. I am feeling nothing. I am feeling too much. I still am...but what I am I cannot say...

Here are some fragments. This is what I wrote last week, and below that what I wrote before.

Last week - Friday 14th August, 6:38 pm

This week was one of the worst that I've had over the last two years - nearly two years since I have been back in the UK and supposedly back to normality. It makes me sad to write that sentence, knowing that just over a year ago I came out of hospital and was filled with being rested, re-educated about the things I can do to support myself, and understanding what my 'rights' were as an individual, even if I couldn't define them for myself, and found it impossible to say what I needed at any level.

This week my husband went back to work and we gave up our enjoyable daily routine of working in our two different bedrooms/studies and 'not talking' but 'being' together in our one dwelling. I still work from home quite a bit, but have to try and find a balance between being in the office to feel connected to my colleagues and like I have a place in the world outside, and being at home so I don't have to see anyone, to feel disconnected from the world outside.

While I'm at home I stay with all of the usual trappings that entails: running (maybe, if I can get up and make myself do it), juicing, (on a good day, and if I hadn't broken my juicer like I did yesterday), making a list for the day (so that I can compartmentalise the tasks into small, manageable chunks and prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed by the entire picture by tackling one thing at a time) and then working through that list and postponing decisions on anything else until I reach the end of the day so that I can ensure that I reach the end of the day and then can do whatever I need to to feel safe, protected, and free from worry.

This week I couldn't cope. One of the things that I am most susceptible to with depression is the fact that I have developed over my entire life an inability to cope with separation from others. My subconscious (i.e. the bit of me that makes the decisions about how I'll feel about anything, which the rational me doesn't get a say in) smashes the alarm glass and sets off the sirens when I'm left alone by people who are a supportive presence in my life. Whether for this or for other reasons, I crashed back into full scale depressive symptoms:

  • Waking up at 4 am without a hope of getting back to sleep because the 'On' button in my brain is stuck down permanently
  • Loss of interest in doing anything other than making it through the day, in a haze of numbness where I can't feel anything
  • Loss of appetite, so that even the nicest freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie might as well be cardboard going into my mouth
  • Short term memory: I'm writing absolutely everything down because I can't remember what I'm saying. I frequently lose my thread mid sentence and can't get to the end of it without having to be reminded what I was saying in the first place.
  • Low frustration tolerance. I cried in anger when I couldn't get the zip done up on one of my dresses. I was enraged when I dropped a plastic food box on the floor which meant I had to clean it. I felt inexplicably irritated when I realised we had run out of loo roll. 

And, for the last one, I cried and cried and cried about the fact that I was back down the rabbit hole of depression, with the medication and therapies that have been helping me to recover feeling like worthless placebos (which rationally I know they're not) and I cried because I was still alive feeling like this and there might never be an end to it.

Thursday 20th August, 4:27pm.

I suppose I’m still alive, but …ugh what cost? At the cost of feeling absolutely crap most of the time at the moment. I hate to say that but the next thirty years don’t feel so great. Is there really any point?

I went to hospital last week and confessed I spent at least four days out of seven wanting to be dead. They worried about me and offered admission, which I didn't want, advised me to take extra sedatives, which I felt wasn't that helpful- feeling like "Let's keep her alive by making her even more numb to the world outside". That's not living in my book.

Yes, there is a point, I know, rationally, that it must be so. But I am still all of the above, numb, frustrated, short tempered, sick of it all. I might be useful at work and get through each day with projects on track and employees supported, but I come home or leave work and I feel empty. I have nothing much left for the evening except to feed myself and then sleep. I can manage to eat (although I don’t have an appetite). I can manage to talk a little with Mat (though I lose track of what I’m saying and don’t feel I have a good grip on what’s going on in the world or that I have anything interesting to say). I can perhaps write a few tweets, respond to a couple of texts, and try to stay connected to the outside world.

Unraveling and trying to keep it together at the same time

Saturday 2nd August, 07:28am

I'm up and ready in my running gear for the park run. I've carried on doing what I can through this - I've kept going to work (from home a few days and in the office some days). This is to combine the need to hide my tear-stained face from the world at times and my need to get out there and show myself to jog myself a little back into the norms of the day and try and feel something other than nothing as I do it. I've kept running every day, and although I cried (again. So much crying these last two weeks) in anger because I managed to fall on a rainy morning and injure my elbow again, as well as develop impressive bruises all over and not be able to run the 5 miles I was planning, I didn't actually break it x-ray confirmed) so I can go and do the park run this morning. 

I've put my makeup on and met friends a couple of times, which was a struggle but probably did me a lot of good. And I have rested with books, with my beloved Netflix, and eaten sandwiches at 5pm to close the day, heading to bed to read at 6 and shutting out the world so I can draw that day to a close and rest before the next one. 

And I have done other things: I've recorded another interview for the BBC, written an article for Metro online (watch this space for that) and applied to go on Campaign Bootcamp, in spite of not being accepted last time. 

I'm recognising that my depression makes me a #spoonie and I need to select what to do and not to do when I'm really poorly. Unfortunately my social life usually is the first to go as I want to make it through work as a semblance of a normal existence. It's my choice though, and I choose how to allocate whatever energy or mixture of numbness and feeling comes to me on any of those days.

So, yes, I am alive, and I'm carrying on. I have seen from Twitter that a lot of my Twitter friends with mental illness are also having a really bad time. I'm hoping the summertime sadness will pass. As always I recognise how lucky I am to have supportive family and friends around me, and medical professionals who want to help me get better, not get (even more) lost. I hope I can write a more together post for next week. But I'll just settle for what I can manage today for now.

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