*Previously saved to drafts* (still not sure it’s ready for posting?)
Having lived with depression and SAD almost all my life, both years of undiagnosed, and years of “This is probably what it is” and now where I finally say “Yep, it’s me”, I have learned a few things about myself, my illnesses – both physical and mental – and how strong (or weak) I am.
See, the first thing I learned, after 40 plus years, is EVERYONE is different, in ANY illness. Let me repeat that again, we ALL suffer our illnesses, physical and mental, DIFFERENTLY! Yeah, I know, loads of emphasis there, but they need it. Or at least, I do. We all handle pain, stress, happiness, all emotions and pains differently. Hell, even identical twins have differences. So to expect medication, methods, and practises to work the same across the board for everyone? That is something we need to change in our thinking. Hell, I still catch myself doing that. “Oh, this worked for so-n-so, why isn’t it working for me?” or even, “Hey, this worked for me, why isn’t it working for so-n-so?” I’m working on that.
For me, in the past, my depression was mild (with a few bouts of sever). If winter go to dark, or my paranoia spoke to loud, I had little tricks I could use and “snap out of it” in a few days or so. It never got so bad I couldn’t handle it. But as my physical health began to slide, so did my mental health. I wouldn’t go so far to say it is sever, or even really that much worse than mild yet. But it is harder to pull myself out, and can last for weeks, even months now. I had one particularly nasty stretch of a little over a year.
My depression is very much a vortex. It’s this small hill you climb while in good spirits, only to find your self on the edge. It feels like there is this flat area around the hole, a safe area. But after a bit of adjustment, I realize it is actually an down slope. Problem is, it may not be much of a down slope, but it is soft soil and pebbles. and as I start to slide, I realize the makeshift path is actually spiralling counter-clockwise down into the pit.
For me, I still haven’t figured out what triggers my depression. It can seemingly come from no where and broad side me. Other times, when I think I have figured out a trigger, it isn’t. But whatever starts it, it becomes so difficult to get out of it. Usually it is petty stuff that starts that spiral, my paranoia – “No one likes me. Look! They all hate me. Why won’t that stranger smile at me?” – then it spirals out ward to my physical health – “WHY can’t I feel awake? Why is my health not improving?” – Then comes the guilt.
The guilt is the worst part of the spiral, it encompasses everything from the small stuff “I should clean more at home” to the large stuff “Why can’t I do more for the world”. This latest bout jumped in front of me really fast. I know a large part of my depression (And I have observed it in others) is depression feeds on its own. That is to say, if you have more than one family member, friend, even strangers, living with depression and put them under the same roof (or work space) for days, weeks, and years on end, eventually the depression cycle of one will pull in others with depression. I have even seen it happen with people who do NOT live together, but that seems to be a rare thing.
My husband has been dealing with anxiety and depression for years now, and it really isn’t well controlled. It’s controlled, but personally? I do not think it is controlled well. It’s like a lion who is on string who is only sticking around because it is amused by you, and thinks you would be a good meal when it gets hungry.
Now, let me be clear. His depression, is NOT mine, I may be reading that situation completely wrong. Maybe he feels it IS well controlled. But, there in lies the problem with depression. Communication with others about your feelings. Especially if you aren’t sure why you are feeling what you are. Husband has said that many times “How can I tell you what’s wrong, if I don’t know?”
See, here’s the thing. I might be a complete, absolute nut job, but I truly think I have this …. gift? ability? THING, with some people where I feel like I know them better than they are willing to admit.
In my not so humble opinion, my husbands main trigger for his depression? Is that nasty guilt. Which stems from many things, but money being one of them. Truly, I look at my husband and I see him both happier not working, but feeling a horrid guilt over not working (the whole stupid “men work” thing), and then guilt because we need to be careful over money, plus from Sept until Feb, is a rough time for him (most). I mean, to me, it seems like he has a HUGE guilt spiral.
I try to reassure him regarding the money, but the worse it gets, the more he spends and the less he checks with me on the budget, the worse the money gets, the more guilt he feels, the more he spends ….. Add all the other guilt in there and I just have no clue how to pull him out of it.
We have a budget, Sure, I juggle it from time to time, but I am GOOD at it (have to be) and IF we could STICK to the budget, we would actually be fine. We ARE fine right now. But, it is difficult in convincing the husband of that, and actually sticking to it. NO, we can NOT spend much, and Christmas gifts are tiny, but really? We have food, can even buy necessities, and can even get our cigarettes if we are careful (No, I do not care about your lectures. I will just ignore them. Don’t need that right now).
This is where my spiral starts. Guilt over my health (which has caused loss of work), guilt over not being more supportive, or feeling frustrated with his spiral (that one bothers me most), guilt over having these feelings, then I also feel REALLY guilty that I am worried about my life, worries, depression, hubby’s, kids, when so many have SO FAR GREATER problems than mine, like not having homes, being shot, raped, bombed, loss of family, children, spouses …. List goes on. Then I feel guilty that maybe my health problems are because of my depression, or just trying to find lazy time, and that just adds to it …
Yeah, BAD spiral.
The harder I fight it, the faster it seems to spin.
I mean look, I GET that money is not the answer to everything, and it can not buy happiness. I KNOW that, but it can sure pay off all my debts, and allow us to buy a meal out once a year, or some recreational time, or gas for the car so we can go somewhere other than work. Money can buy us some freedom from the debt. It can buy us time out of the house and away from being shut in. It can buy us a movie, or a book, or clothes that fit and aren’t falling apart.
And that would, I think, slow down the spiral long enough that we could get out, and maybe even help others, which would
stop slow the spiral more, which would allow us some control over this whole mess.
I need to add, when I was younger, mental health problems weren’t talked about. At all. Ever. I never even thought of myself as having depression, never crossed my mind, not even after I wanted to (and tried) to kill myself*, did I really think I had depression. That came much, much later in life.
Hindsight is an amazing thing. But so is foresight. Now, if I ever get that deep, where I just want to step out of it all, I can look around and realize it just isn’t the thing to do (plus, I have enough pain and health problems, I don’t want to ADD to it!)
No. It’s good. Thing is? I have heard some say “all this opening up about mental health problems is making it worse”. But it’s NOT! Sure, we hear about it more, and we hear about more deaths because of it. But that’s because it isn’t hiding any more.
And for me? Knowing that even “Mr/s perfect” gets this too? Makes me realize I am NOT alone, and maybe someone WILL listen.
Posting this today, while I am still fighting the flu, and feeling really low and gross physical health wise? Has made me realize one other thing. Sometimes we don’t always realize that we have spiralled right up the other-side of that hole and are on the way out until we take a moment to look back.
This blog and my drafts folder filled with (mostly) meaningless whining, has shown me, I may not be in a health place physically, but I am climbing my way out mentally.
*It was a very weak attempt. Pretty sure it was more for sympathy and help. Not to say I wasn’t seriously contemplating it, and didn’t try. Just that the pain was too much, and really, back then, all I wanted was for someone to like me and for the bullying and hate to stop.