Hibernation

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As Hemingway put it, “I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

The older I get, the more I am convinced that we shouldn’t be awake all through the winter. Dark and Cold. My current moods as well as the weather outside and my desperate yearning for the warmth and light to return. Depression is a pain in the head that drills down with each and every thing that annoys you. Intolerance is magnified to become a giant shadow over your consciousness leaving you with little light to live in.

Animals hibernate and there is a suggestion that we perhaps did once too. Pack me up in torn newspaper in a cupboard under the stairs and wake me in March. It’s not often in life you can say you are jealous of Blue Peter tortoises but…

SAD does play it’s part, but for me in general the depression is becoming an issue again: snapping, being rude, obnoxious – well even more obnoxious than normal. You can hear yourself spout negativity and your self loathing begins to circle the drain as you grab at it like a small boat heading for a killer clown. Metaphorical confusion aside I’m bored with feeling like this. I’m getting less “sad” about depression and more pissed off and fed up.

You have things you need to get done, deadlines that are disappearing and you can barely manage to function never mind crossing items off of your “to do” list. I currently have the attention span of a… There is little getting done just now and even getting out of bed in the morning is an achievement. How pathetic does your life have to be that that is an achievement – perhaps I should make a nice star chart for myself with categories including “Getting up”, “Not shouting in people’s faces” and “Faked caring convincingly”. Mind you as a craft project I’d get halfway through and lose all enthusiasm for it.

Working with young people makes things even more difficult at times because some of them need to be looked after, need you at your best and you summon up each and every ounce of your strength to do the job. There is an unattributed quote that goes “Do not confuse my bad days as a sign of weakness. Those are actually the days I am fighting my hardest.” which sums up exactly what depression feels like. I’m not weak – f*cking hell to get up and get on with your routine is a huge achievement when your mind and soul are still resting on the pillow.

This is where there a real disconnect between those who live with depression and those who don’t. Survival, putting one foot in front of the other, not swearing at the top of your lungs on the worst days is like climbing Everest or crossing the finishing line first for me. I just wish it wasn’t part of my day-to-day life. I am more than aware that there is no such thing as “normal” but it would be nice just for a whole year to get through it without succumbing to the darkness.

Go back to your Doctor is the thought that will be crossing of many you – and while it’s not the worst advice there is a problem. Because you will come out of the other side of the dip at some point changing meds in the middle of it makes it difficult to work out if it is the addition chemicals or just time passing that has made it better. Obviously if this becomes longer than the two or three weeks it has been I will have to consider speaking to the quack at some point.

The one thing I’m working really hard on this time is the family. I’ve been guilty of using up all my energy throughout the day and leaving nothing in the tank for when I get home and that’s not a wise thing to do. They are the support network, the cushion beneath you and you have to ensure that they are also getting the effort from you too. I have to spend less time “on” at work and plan my lessons more carefully to give me that space and so far I think I’ve got the balance almost right. Not perfect, but then there’s no such thing.

All you can do is your best is the cliché – but things become clichés for a reason. Mostly because they are true.

JD

Treading Water

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So here we go again. I’ve been busy writing down ideas and starting a much more substantial piece of writing – but today I felt the need to come back to the blog for the first time in months and unload because words from my mouth are failing me right now.

I haven’t had a dip or real down since the mammoth five month deep depression of last October to March. There was a wee blip in the summer but nothing to worry about. This time I feel like I’m treading water, just keeping my head about the surface and all those feelings of emptiness, loneliness, uselessness and self-loathing are back on the radar.

Getting up in the dark mornings and driving home in the twilight is again an issue – the Seasonal Affective Disorder element of the down is definitely in the mix as the little sunshine there is appears trapped outside while I sit in work. It sneaks round the corner of my classroom by the back of lunchtime so the kids want to draw the blinds to stop it from blinding them. I’d happily be blinded just feel like I’m getting some of the benefits. I could go outside at a lunchtime, but there’s not much time then and I have to grab food too.

I’ve been aware of slipping slowly down over the last week or so but now it’s been turned up to eleven and I just want to disappear. The most frustration thing with this illness is that you can’t really do much to prepare  for it as it just appears uninvited. You begin to lose the capability to think clearly; words fail you and there is a disconnect between what you want to say and the noise that eventually comes out. You try to force humour to stay “up”, but there’s nothing worse than that false bonhomie when you don’t feel like it.

The feeling of helplessness that lives in your mind; the constant self-questioning and doubting everything you say and do; the desperate desire to close your eyes and sleep until it passes; the anger that sits in your stomach and erupts when you least expect it; the grief for the loss of your former self; the wish that everyone else felt as bad as you do to make it more bearable.

Your hands shake, eyes fill and heart sinks as the black dog pads towards you. How long will it sit alongside you for this time around? Will you finally succumb to the darker voices and stay hidden from the world? It’s not a suicidal thought to not want to wake up in the morning – you must have a plan and carry out an action for that to be concerning – it’s more you don’t necessarily want to be around when the black canine companion is.

Becoming more isolated – feeling lonely even in a crowd is the worst part. Being able to “give a shit” becomes harder and that punishes those closest to you each time as you fail to connect as you should with on a daily basis. Some days it can take all your effort to say “Hi” never mind listen to the regular minutiae of everyday life that the world throws at you. Like a grump at Hallowe’en you just want to switch off the lights and hide from the world outside – physically outside and also outside your head-space too.

Would I struggle as much if I lived in a warmer climate? More sun, longer days? Or am I just programmed this way to fluctuate between such diverse moods? So many questions spin around your mind as you try to come to terms with what your brain is throwing at you and the answers are not at arm’s length, they’re not even visible – instead they are lost in a miasma of confusion and illogical thought. Just to lay your hands on something to allow you to clear some of the clutter that exists upstairs would be a relief, but as days march on you are only left with more problems, more questions and ultimately more illness.

Time to think about counselling again? Possibly – really didn’t get much out of it last time but sometimes it’s that you just don’t click with that person, so that may be an option. Medication changes? Well the problem is in the full perspective of your life this is just a blip and perhaps a change in mood after the introduction of another medication would have happened anyway. All I know is I have to wheel out the coping techniques that have worked for me so far. It’s not a perfect system but I am able to get up (eventually) and get to work and largely get everything done I’m supposed to do. That’s really the best I can hope for going forward.

As long as the water levels don’t rise any further I should be able to keep my head about the surface.

JD