Depression fronts unannounced, uninvited, unwelcome and insidious. It pervades first of all in little ways; I concentrate hard to see the good, the light and the joy but there is always that tinge, that sadness that dampens the eyes first and then the spirit.
I am sitting at my computer, knowing full well that it is time to write. Overwhelmingly, I need to write. I previously diarised my recovery from depression. For the most part, what I wrote was what I had felt while depressed and I wrote when I felt well. There were a number of reasons for my reticence in writing when I was depressed, not the least of which was that I needed to feel in control and when I am feeling in control, it is much easier to write positively.
For me depression never came from a specific event. It came from feeling and caring too much about things, I guess from being too sensitive. I don’t just take on board my own stressors; I take on the stressors of those around me and of the world in general. And at times, my stress pot just boils over into depression. I have an overwhelming need to fix everything for everyone around me. Surprise, surprise, that sets me up for failure because some things just can’t be fixed and some people just don’t want to be helped.
I have never felt as conflicted by work as I do now. What goes down, from an organisational perspective has messed with my closely held core values for an extended time now. Unfortunately at 55 and having worked in the same narrow field for more than 35 years, I find it difficult to see a viable alternative. There have been times when I wished that I had been told that I was no longer required by the organisation so that the choice would be taken away from me.
Choices are hard to see and decision making is definitely impaired when I feel like this.
It’s not just me feeling the stress of the workplace; without doubt my team and the people we interact with feel the pressure too. So we are all a little less reasonable with each other and we have all retreated somewhat into managing and caring for our own needs to the detriment of those around us and a consideration of the bigger picture.
In addition to work, life seems to be getting in the way of feeling healthy right now. I am off to Sydney tomorrow to move G into our new apartment. G has been living in hotels for the last month waiting for the apartment to be finished and he is obviously feeling a need to be settled. The moving in part not without stress. I have removalists booked and will take a perverse pleasure in putting all of G’s possessions away the way I would order them (G is Mr OCD while I am a free spirit… watch this space). This is the price he will pay for not being able to free his calendar and unpack himselfJ.
So that’s the stressors of life at the moment. Writing puts those stressors into perspective and boxes them up so that I can deal with them more rationally.
The most challenging aspect for me is the insidiousness of depression. I can recognise when I am stressed and I manage it. I exercise a little harder, take time out for myself or talk to a friend. I do have strategies but I don’t always recognise that things are getting worse and that I need to up the ante. It would be so much easier if I could just go happily along feeling OK and then wake up one morning not OK, deal with it and then get back on with my life. Just getting over it is often not an option.
Sadly, for me, depression brings with it an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Depression brings a lack of caring, of self-respect and control. When I am on top of the world it is easy to have a glass of wine, when I am not, that glass turns into a bottle. I spoke with my counsellor regarding alcohol, possibly hedging around the subject, and her answer was, “You have proved through weight loss that you have self-control, alcohol should not be a problem for you.” I’ve said that one over and over to myself and it’s like a challenge to myself. I am stubborn. I say this is controllable, this is no problem. After a particularly challenging day at work recently I stopped at the bottle shop, bought a bottle of my favourite red and then delighted in the fact that I could have 3 small glasses (less than ½ bottle) and stop. Sadly I am not always as controlled.
I don’t ever wake up with a hangover. I think that my body just gets used to it or possibly my hangover comes at 2AM when I am asleep. I do however often feel tired and sluggish. I know that I am not as sharp on days when I have drunk any alcohol the night before, ever a moderate amount. Added to the fact that this sluggishness at least enhances and worst causes the depressive state, sometimes choices are clear.
Yesterday I woke up and said to myself, “ENOUGH!” I need to take control, get out of this headspace, look after myself physically and emotionally and start living fully again.
So here I am. My commitment to myself is to get well and stay well.
First things first, alcohol – gone. I say that with a high degree of confidence. Fortunately for me, alcohol is more an emotional crutch than a physical addiction and the previous times that I have really made up my mind to stop drinking have not been as difficult as I would have predicted.
Second, exercise and diet. This is not a biggie for me. Exercise is an ingrained part of my life now and when I don’t walk daily, I really miss it, even if I am feeling sad! Diet is generally not an issue though when I am down, I crave chocolate. Sadly, like alcohol, when I am depressed, chocolate is not something that I moderate well.
Motivational reading – My iBooks app sent me an email today titled 10 Life Changing Books You Must Read. I have downloaded three of them, the three that appealed most to me. I will chat about them as I read them but can’t mention them until I know what I am talking about. Would love to hear any recommendations.
Yesterday I put on Facebook my mantra. It was in response to discussion regarding cancer. I have said before that depression has been much more defining for me than cancer. This is probably because my battle with depression has consumed nearly ¼ of my life. Cancer visited fleetingly nearly 5 years ago and except as my 6 monthly check ups approach, I do not dwell on it at all. Anyway, I started considering my mantra and whether it is fully fit for the purpose of guiding me through a happy life and have made a couple of modifications to it. I’ll share it now:
Forgive quickly (especially yourself)
If you can’t fix it, let it go,
Body and soul, care for them,
Be passionate (about something, anything)
Look at life with a child-like sense of wonder,
Practice gratitude daily,
Do something every day for someone who can never repay you.
Never, never, never give up
I am on my way back and am very, very happy to be where I am today. I have the next week off work. It’s a busy one but it will also give me time to focus on fixing some things that can be fixed and distancing myself from some that can’t. I am not sure when I will post again as I sometimes feel that what is say is too repetitive to be interesting.
Have an Awesome day and thanks for reading my blog!