It’s back as soon as it’s gone. It’s hard to know if the last bout of depression was chemical or just how I was feeling because of the issues surrounding getting back to work. You’re never ready for the chemical dip to start as there isn’t always a warning sign – it just happens. I still don’t understand it but I know it’s going to happen and that’s okay because I’ve always made it through before and I will again. Doesn’t mean it’s easy though.
It’s as if we as humans are jigsaws – we all have multiple pieces which combine to make us the image we are seen as. Those with depression randomly have pieces removed; sometimes one or two, other times it feels like a handful have gone and you don’t quite feel complete. Others don’t always notice, which is not their fault, but you wonder how they can’t see you’re incomplete.
The sense of loss, of being without something important is a difficult thing to convey to others. It’s not like grief or mourning as you have a specific issue that can be pinpointed, it’s more that you feel part of you dies and you are the only one worse off for it. It could be self-worth, confidence, happiness, patience, comfort or a sense of belonging – I can say that I’ve felt all of those over the years and each time it’s a slightly different cocktail of missing parts.
Just now it’s just a general melancholy that’s hovering around me. No specifics, just a malaise – like Eeyore’s rain cloud, it follows me around. Oh Bother!
And think on that jigsaw puzzle with the pieces missing – we can all think of a time when we spent ages putting it together to get frustrated that it’s not what we hoped it would be and that’s where I find myself. So far it is just bubbling away in the background and I’ve no idea if it will pass within a few days or if I’ve weeks to enjoy this visit from the black dog. You don’t get handed a timetable with this manic-depressive illness – if you did I’d make sure I was off for the highs so I could enjoy them more.
Ultimately life goes on. You can’t stop to overthink things; there’s no pause button that allows you time to sort your head out; you can’t stop the clocks from barking with a juicy Sunday best…or something like that. Something’s missing and I’ll either have time to find out which boxing glove will hit me and the introverted pop-psychologist in me will try to work it out – or it’ll pass and I’ll be none the wiser. And that’s where the anger, impatience and darker traits of living with this condition appears.
You don’t want to be short with people or find anger bubbling up at inopportune moments but it happens the further into the darkness you end up. That’s the illness becomes a real issue. When it begins to impact on others you really start beating yourself up and that ends up with the snake eating its own tail. You end up hating yourself and the depression can then take hold. You can hear the words and volume as you spit vitriolic words out to those you care about and who only want to help you. You know it’s wrong but you can’t stop yourself.
A well-worn phrase is that you only understand what someone else’s life is like if you walk a mile in their shoes – as Jimmy Carr says then you’re a mile away and you have their shoes – but I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. All you hope is that those around you don’t walk away.