One of the challenges in managing my mental health is the fact that the slide into a depressive episode is so smooth, so gradual, that I don’t notice it, until I either realise that I’ve spent the majority of a day or two in bed, or when I wake up one day and feel like I’m high.
There is lots of advice out there on the importance of taking action when you feel your mood slipping, to stop the downward spiral, but I’ve never been very good at noticing that slide.
Looking back at my latest episode, I can see that one of the things I do as I start to slip’n’slide is to withdraw from people. I don’t initiate contact, but I do respond to those that come my way. If none happen to arrive, I find myself isolated in my emotionless bubble and I don’t even notice it. I also stop writing and doing anything that isn’t essential. Spending time with the boys becomes a chore, as do most things, really. The odd thing is that while I’m in the midst of it, it doesn’t feel strange to be feeling like this. Depressed becomes my new normal.
Depression insinuates itself into my life slowly and by stealth and no matter that I’ve been dealing with it for most of my life, it still catches me by surprise. I think I’m doing OK, and then, all of a sudden, I’m not.
This morning I felt so positive that I thought, surely I had bipolar? I couldn’t feel this good for no reason? Then it dawned on me that my “high”, was probably everybody else’s normal, you know, a day where you don’t dread the mere sight or sound of your children, don’t walk around with a tight knot in your belly and don’t want to spend all day curled up in a ball crying. And my “high” only lasted a few hours, not days or weeks.
I know that the trigger for this particular episode has been my money worries and I also know that it resolved itself, because I found a temporary solution that should cover us for a few more months. (And, no, I’ve not decided to sell my body.) I still have to have a few difficult conversations and keep applying for jobs, but for the time being we should be able to stay in our house.
I probably should start journalling daily and see if I can find patterns in my thoughts that would warn me of a forthcoming episode. I haven’t done that in a very long time. And I don’t blog as often as I did in the past, which used to keep me connected with the wider world. As the blogosphere in Australia is changing, fewer and fewer readers are finding my words, which doesn’t help the feeling of isolation. What used to be a great therapy and a source of support, now feels like a barren desert.
But still, here I am. Still writing. Hoping to connect with somebody, somewhere. Someone who might feel less alone when they read my words, someone who might have once been where I am today, or someone who just wants to learn something about someone else’s life. ‘
Which of those someones are you?