Thursday, May 20, 2010

Never Forget

In March I went home to visit friends and family. While there I went out to lunch with a friend who had dealt with severe depression about eight or nine years ago. While talking I mentioned how I'd forgotten how bad it was when I suffered years ago and she responded "I'll never forget. I will make sure I never forget because I never want to be that bad again."

I'd forgotten. I'm not sure I know how to remember because the feelings are so hard to understand, let alone describe if you aren't in the middle of them yourself. What I do remember this time that I'd forgotten from before is that I didn't feel sad as the term depression might make you think; I felt nothing. I'd forgotten that...feeling nothing, feeling as though you'll never feel again. The fog, feeling as though you are moving through air that has texture, the weight of it. Every movement required so much energy, that was what I'd forgotten. Every thought required so much of me. Trying to come up with the energy to do something...anything was impossible some days.

I also forgot the fatigue. In my memory I simply wanted to sleep to avoid thinking. I'd forgotten that I stayed up until two, three, or four o'clock in the morning and slept until noon. I'd watch TV until just before the time for my husband to come home, rushing to get showered and dressed so he wouldn't know I'd done nothing all day. I thought that my days were just mixed up. I've read that depressive symptoms are at their worst first thing in the morning and get better as the day goes on. It was VERY difficult to make and keep appointments with doctors, or anyone.

This last depressive episode was different because I now have three kids to take care of. While there were a lot of things I could allow to fall by the wayside, I couldn't do that with the kids. Getting up in the early morning to get the kids off to school was hard, very hard. I knew that I had to do it, simply because otherwise I'd have legal problems. One visit from anyone involved in the law would have probably resulted in my children being taken away. If they saw the state my house was in during the worst of my depression I'm sure they would have said that their home wasn't safe. Plus it was easier to have them gone all day so I only had to deal with them for a few hours each day. After I'd get them off to school I'd frequently climb back into bed to sleep the morning away. I didn't remember how completely exhausted I was the first time. This time I have three kids, a job and volunteer work at the kids' school. I managed to do the minimum, though even my boss knew I was phoning it in at times.

It is so easy to forget how bad it can get. It is easy to think "I'm doing great, I don't need to keep taking my antidepressants." I can't let that happen again. I owe it to my children, my husband and myself to do everything in my power to keep the depression at bay. Part of the reason I write this blog is to make sure that I remember.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do I attract depressed friends

My closest friend has had a horrible year, her husband left her, her older son is failing a good portion of his freshman year, her younger son was diagnosed as ADHD, she had to sell a house she loved to a completely unreasonable buyer and she was demoted at work. Not surprisingly she is depressed...clinically depressed, and suffering from anxiety. She feels like she is failing in every area of her life. When I was in the depths of my depression this winter I wondered if trying to help her was part of the reason I was getting so depressed. Is it contagious? Was it from all of the depressed talk that we were sharing? Or was it a horrible coincidence? I say horrible because I wasn't nearly as much help as I wish I was.

She isn't climbing out of her depression, in part because it seems as though she is still getting hit with new problems nearly every week. I've managed to climb most of the way out of my depression. Sometimes I find that I have less patience now to listen to her. Part of it is that I'm afraid to be pulled back down. Part of it is because nothing seems to be changing in her life. Part of it is that I have no idea how to help her or what advise to give her. I KNOW what it feels like to be so far down in the pit that you can't see daylight above you. I KNOW the helpless feeling you have when you are so depressed that you can't figure out how to do anything to improve your outlook. I also KNOW that you can't tell a person in that situation to simply "get over it." So I feel helpless. I do what I can, and I hope that it helps.

I also have to pull back sometimes and hope that someone else will step in and help her too. For myself and my own children I need to back off sometimes and allow myself some time to recharge and heal. I know that if I get worse and step into that pit that I won't be any help to her. But I can't help but feel that I'm a bad friend for doing that.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The sun is shining

There is sun outside! In the Pacific Northwest this is a news bulletin. I think the sun is helping me dig my way out of the pit. Of course the longer days and antidepressants help too. Over the last two weeks I've been up and down a lot. Some days are great, I get a lot accomplished and feel better because of that. Others...not so much. I can't get over the feeling that every time I get something done (I cleaned part of the garage! I did inventory for work! I did a load of laundry!) I want a pat on the back and an "atta girl!" Do we ever outgrow our need for someone's approval?

There are still down days. On Wednesday I was so tired that I was afraid I'd fall asleep while I was driving. I had several things to do that day and I couldn't nap, which was probably a good thing, but it was still hard to get through the day. I felt like I was back in the fog. I'm tired of this back and forth, of taking inventory each morning: how do I feel? Is this a good day or bad day? Will I be able to get everything done that I need to do?

On my best days I often wonder if that is how normal people feel most days. On those days I can wake up and get everything done I need to get done. I can work AND keep the house clean. I can do several loads of laundry, a load of dishes, sweep the floor AND cook dinner AFTER working all day. Don't most people manage to do all of that? Why can I only manage that on some days, and not enough to function well?

The sun is shining and I need to make sure I go out and enjoy it. I need all the sun I can get.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Feeling Better

It's been awhile since I've posted. I've been steadily feeling better and more energetic. I'm not sure what is at the root of my feeling stronger since I've made several changes. I decided to stop buying so much fast food and I've been making dinner more often, every day last week. I only had a frozen dinner last night and it was mainly because I was so tired. I might have been extra tired because I worked a longer day than usual, or it might have been caused by the lunch I had at McDonald's. Note to self, pack a lunch today.

I've been trying to get more exercise. I've also given up my facebook games. Those things were ruling my life! Not playing them is giving me a lot more time in my day. Last Saturday I had to do a crisis cleaning to make my house presentable for a friend who was stopping by. Afterwards I swore that not only was I not going to allow it to become such a mess again, I was going to keep improving it. I allowed it to become a pig sty when I was in the depths of my depression and like a feedback loop it made things worse.

Lastly I've been on my antidepressants for nearly four months now. It is possible that they have built up in my body enough to effect some real change. Whatever has caused this improvement I hope it lasts so I can finally get some control over my life.