Saturday, 20 August 2011

A sliding scale

This one's for real.  And it's just for me.  If you're not in the mood for serious, skip this.  I'll see you soon with something more fun. 

***

What does it feel like to be depressed?   Well, there's a scale - a variation of pain - that hits me in different ways on different days. 

When it first started, before I even knew it was happening, it was mostly just a total loss of motivation.  And exhaustion. I was so exhausted. I just wanted to sit around all the time and I told myself it was because I was taking a "break" and because it was Winter

But when warm Spring days came, I seemed to be getting worse.  This was the next stage on the scale - the stage where getting out of a bed was next to impossible.  Work was still a reason to get up, but on the weekends?  Hardly.  I remember laying in bed and so desperately wanting to go out and enjoy the sun but just being utterly incapable of it.  Like there was a weight on my chest holding me in place. 

That was the wake-up call.  That's when I broke down and finally admitted - reluctantly - that something was Wrong.

I started with a visit to my doctor and a few psych appointments. 

And then I hit the bottom of the scale.  I was devastated all the time and clinging - CLINGING - to whatever form of normalcy I could, but with little hope of survival.  Soon the panic attacks started and the constant chest pain followed, and I spent more than one morning collapsing on my bedroom floor knowing I couldn't go to work.  And even when I could, it became a TOTALLY RATIONAL idea to just hide under the deskNo one would know I was there. I'd be safe.

Then I started thinking about suicide now and then.  How would I do it?  It would be so much easier. Hubby would be better off.  Etcetera. 

That was the point at which medication became necessary.  And time away from work. 

So I spent the next several weeks making TREMENDOUS effort to emerge from bed every day.  It took everything I had to just get in the car and go on an errand with Hubby.  I remember visiting my mom and just sitting on her stairs for days without the basic capacity to leave that one spot. And I rememebr trying to choke down a few bites of food.

After four weeks of meds I was supposed to be feeling the relief everyone told me would come. And I wasn't.  Sure, I had one or two tolerable days, but nothing like what I was expecting.  I sat on my bedroom floor leaning on the bedframe and just crying to myself that I just. wanted. to. feel. better.

Back to the doctor.  An increase of meds and a plan to go back to work part time.  Psych appointments continued and the goal was ultimately to get back to day-to-day functioning.  Get out of bed. Shower. Eat. Go to work. Hold it together. Don't panic. Go home. Rest. Start all over again. 

Painful. 

But then I started feeling some relief.  Miraculously.  My brain was no longer 100% occupied with forcing myself to breathe.  It was not quite as exhausting to function.  It was hard, yes, but it didn't take up every single minor ounce of whatever energy I had to just keep going. 

I could feel the change.  I could feel it getting better.  And I could start paying some attention to the things in my life that made me this way in the first place.  I had a crutch to lean on while I worked on the other stuff.  A backup battery. 

And then Hubby's Poppy died.  Setback.  But I managed.  I was able to recognize what I needed and allow myself that space.  I took a vacation day.  And we went to the waterpark.  It was magical - just what I needed... to laugh and feel joy.   

And then someone else died.  And that was more complicated.  She was an awful and dangerous person from my childhood, and dealing with a lack of sympathy for someone's death was a whole new experience for me.  Brand new.  And miserable. 

But my therapist got me through it and she said I was turning a corner.  Fatigue was still an issue and mornings still sucked ASS, but I was sticking to my Diversification Plan and making some progress.  Finally. 

And then my pseudo-grandfather died.  And because of tricky family dynamics I didn't go to the service. And that was heartbreaking, because I didn't like having to admit that my fragile heart and mind couldn't handle it. I hated it, actually. And the guilt washed over me until I thought I might drown. 

So instead of going to the service, I went to the cottage, as planned, which only made me feel worse.  Everyone said sitting at home would not have been better for me, but I'm not convinced. 

I felt myself sliding, very slowly and desperately sliding down the scale again.  Falling into the abyss of depression that not even the meds could pull me out of. 

I saw it coming. It was harder to concentrate and I started preferring to cover my head with the blankets and hide from the world.  And then yesterday I couldn't get out of bed.  And then those nasty thoughts came again.  I know they're irrational, and I don't think they're sincere, but there's something inside that just lets me go to that place.  Something deep beneath my surface that likes to entertain the idea.  It seems to let some of the pressure out. 

So I slept on the couch for a few hours yesterday afternoon/evening, and just couldn't be bothered to get up.  I'm not even that tired.  I just can't face the alternative. 

And the worst part of the sliding scale?  It feeds off itself.  I am so ashamed and so desperate.  It pulls me down and down and the lower I get the harder it is to pull myself out. 

So there it is.  That's what it's like, for me, to be depressed.  Logically, in my mind, I know I'll probably be ok.   I'll dig UP and find a way to drag myself out of this dark hole. I don't know how yet. But I will. 

But in my heart? In my heart, it's not that easy.

_

19 comments:

  1. I struggle with depression as well. Hitting that low point is the worst- where you are willing, pleading with yourself to get over it already, put one foot in front of the other and move forward. Except you can't. The internal struggle makes it all worse and worse.

    Just take one day at a time. When you have a good day, make the most out of it. When you have bad days, be proud of yourself for getting out of bed and getting dressed. Small steps. You'll get through it.

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  2. I cant imagine what it's like to have to deal with depression, to have to live with it. I'm so happy that you're striving to get through it and come out better on the other end. I hope with all my might that day comes soon for you. *hugs*

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  3. Elle - Thanks doll. I appreciate that. Some days I can go one day at a time. Other days i need to go one hour,minute at a time.

    Sarcasm - Love you too.

    Lin - Thanks for the hugs. They help :)

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  4. Most of this sounds so familiar to me. I don't feel it now, thankfully. But at least I know for sure that someone who didn't think it was possible to feel better can feel better. My heart is breaking for you because I know how hard life is for you right now.

    You have my phone number. You have my email address. ANYTIME you want to talk...I am here for you. Seriously. ANY. TIME.

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  5. This is so much like it is for me. I've been on meds for over 2 months now and I'm *finally* feeling a tiny bit better, then I had a major setback this past week. All I can think to tell you right now is that I love you girl. xx

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  6. Hang in there. The setbacks always hurt, because it keeps us wondering how the hell things could be any worse than they are right now. Especially when you know how much you struggled and worked just to get better in the first place. You have a big support system here in internet-land. Feel free to email or call if you want to talk. Love you.

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  7. This hit me kind of hard.
    My mom tried to kill herself several times. At one point she almost succeeded before I found her. I was twelve.
    As bad as it seems, you are always, ALWAYS important to people around you. Never doubt that.

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  8. Thank you all so much. My heart aches a little less just for having gotten this off my chest and for seeing your kind words and support. I always wonder if I should post thsee scary ones, and I'm always glad I did. It really is therapeutic.

    jacqui - Thank you my friend. Something about those words "I'm here for you" that are so comforting.

    Elle - I'm so sorry about your difficult week. At least we both know there is someone else out there who understands.

    Ang - You're so right. Thanks hon. Love you too.

    Anonymous - Thanks for this. Snaps me back to reality. Suicide is not truly an option for me, it's just that sometimes it feels "good" to release the pressure by entertaining the idea. Not so much the idea of death, but the idea of non-existence... just so I wouldn't have to struggle anymore. I will gather my strength and recover. Promise.

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  9. I totally and completely understand where you're coming from... a year ago my mum succumbed to her depressed and committed suicide... ever since then I've been dealing with my own depression in relation to her passing and my own issues.

    Reading your experiences has awoken in me the realization that I should probably seek help... that laying in bed all weekend isn't something that has to be .. it can change if I want it to.

    Thanks for being open about your struggles... thanks for letting me know there are others out there struggling like me and other choices.

    Thanks.

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  10. Thank you for sharing that. I'm so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you, hon.

    You've helped me to realize that I can't allow myself the "comfort" of that dark idea of non-existence. I have to be strong.

    And no, you don't have to withstand so much pain all by yourself. Try to get help. Go to a doctor, or a support group, or a therepist, or a friend. Or contact me any time. Talking about it helps. It's how we work through things - sort of like thinking out loud. It can get better. And it will. xoxo

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  11. I actually cried while reading this. I'm not sure what else to say but I'm sorry, and I can't understand completely, but I've been through something similar.

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  12. citymommala - I'm sorry I made you sad! It's ok. I'm ok. Or at least I'm getting there. Thanks for reading, and for commenting.

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  13. Oh girl, I get you. I so do. You could have written this post based on my life. I was nodding and saying "yes" (not YES!, but yes, that's me) the whole time. A few months ago I was exactly where you are. I thought about blogging about it, but was afraid of the reaction. Thank you for having the courage to post this. Although I would never wish depression on anyone, it does help a little to know I'm not the only one. That depression is a REAL thing, not just some crazy stuff I'm making up.

    Hugs to you.

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  14. Keep at it. One day you may be astonished that you ever felt like this.

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  15. huggies lady! I suffer from depression (and more), I had to recently up my medication because I cannot work out right now and I'm just a miserable beast. While it's still hard to get up in the morning with the kids. At least now I can get up. It comes and it goes.

    We can do this, it's just finding the right motivation for that moment.

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  16. Goddess - Thank you so much for saying that. I'm sorry you're struggling too, but it always helps to know there is an army of supporters out there who get it. Consider me part of your army, doll. Thank you.

    Heather - Gosh I hope so. Thanks.

    LACE - Always be happy that you can at least get up. Yes. We can do this.

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  17. The more I read of your blog, the more I realize how much we have in common, which is probably why I like you so much. :-P But seriously, the depression/anxiety thing, man, i know that struggle. I am way too familiar with it. I have been off & on meds for years. Currently I have been back on antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds for a year almost a year now and it has definitely helped. The idea of suicide used to creep in more often than it does now. But since my ex-fiancee chose that path (the beginning of the shit-storm I wrote about the other day) it is much harder to think of suicide as a viable option for myself. Having lived through that loss and also when my current partner tried to take that path, too, (and thankfully survived) well, there are not enough words to describe the pain and anguish I went through and I do not want to inflict that on someone else. And like you described, it's not so much a wanting to die as it is a want to just not exist. Unfortunately, or fortunately, that's just not how it works. But I am honored to witness your courage to write about it here. Reading others' stories gives me strength and I hope my writings help others, too. Thanks for sharing the hard stuff as well as the laughs. :) I appreciate it.

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  18. Thank you Jo. I'm sorry you had such a terrible time, but you seem to have leaned a lot from it. It's so helpful for me to express my struggle in writing - and having all you to share your support and understanding is such a bonus. Thanks. :)

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