Warning: This post may contain depression and anxiety triggers.
Yesterday I went in to work on a Saturday (to make life easier for next week), had lunch with a friend, and went to hear a friend’s band play for a couple of hours. I also fought back tears four times (that I can count) before I finally got in the car to go home and let them go. Today, I dragged my ass out of bed, made some coffee, went to the couch, watched TV, and fell asleep for a long time. That is my life right now. I have written about my recent ADHD diagnosis (which still baffles me), but I have been avoiding writing much about the “D” word because I really don’t want to write about what set off this particular spell. I’ve been here before and I know that things do get better. However, at the moment, I am fighting a monster and this is my life:
1. If you notice that I am fighting back tears, know that when I am alone, I am alone, I cry a lot. If I pause and take several deep breaths mid-sentence, I am trying to gain control of my tears and keep them from coming. I know what conversations will bring them on, but sometimes they catch me off guard. When people ask me, “How are you doing?” I answer, “Fine,” or “Okay,” but that often prompts my eyes to well up. What I don’t say is, “I am just getting by.” Also know that I cry many mornings, and every single night. I need to buy stock in Kleenex or Puffs.
2. Yes, I work too much. Right now, throwing myself into work is all I can do. If I can stay busy, I might be able to keep the tears at bay for a little longer each day. If I can keep them at bay, maybe they will eventually go away. However, if I try to work too late, then I fall apart. I lose all ability to concentrate and dissolve into tears. I become a toddler who can’t pull it together some nights.
3. No, I am not having fun. I am not happy. I have lost my joy. Those things got taken from me. The best I can give you is that I showed up. I don’t remember the last real laugh I had. I know that it was over two months ago at this point. I can chuckle at things and sometimes I actually smile, but I really miss joy.
4. There are things that used to be easy and now they are hard. For the first time in my life, I cannot drive places alone. I used to shake my head when people said that they did not like getting on the freeway or driving long distances. It took me a month to manage to get to and from work and within the fifteen to twenty minute circle around my house without losing it (sobbing uncontrollably). Yesterday I committed to driving twenty minutes further than normal. I was biting my lip and fighting tears the entire way. If I say I can’t go somewhere, that may be why. I also find myself frightened or anxious in public at times. I have been drinking black coffee for a week because it just seemed too exhausting to stop by the grocery store to get half and half. I finally went by the store on my way home last night and realized that old anxieties had arisen when I felt crowded by the people behind me in line.
5. If I tell you that I cannot think about a particular issue or problem at the moment, it is not because I am being rude or dismissive. It means that there is a priority task, and I cannot switch, or I will completely lose focus. When I am tired or stressed, this is especially true. I can only manage one thing at a time because I am working to keep the walls up in my brain that keep the emotional overload at bay. When I say that I will deal with your issue tomorrow, later, or when I finish a particular task, I will. Please respect the amount of energy it takes to fight a dragon and to be productive at the same time.
6. I escape into distractions. At the moment I cannot read at night because I am having trouble concentrating (which makes me very sad). I know that I watch way too much television. However, I thank the creators of Netflix and Amazon Prime for the ability to marathon series. No commercials to set off an emotional response. My particular favorites at the moment involve killing monsters and minimal love interests. I am caught up on Supernatural and am currently working my way through Grimm. I also listen to a lot of audio books. I am enjoying listening to the Harry Potter books on audio (it has been a while since I last read them). I credit audio books and music with allowing me to drive at all!
6. Sleep sucks and I am almost always physically and emotionally exhausted. When I go to bed, I put my audio book on a timer and fall asleep pretty quickly. However, I wake up in the middle of the night— sometimes dreaming and upset, other times, just awake. Even when I don’t wake up at 2:00, or 3:00, or 4:00, I wake up at least half an hour before my alarm goes off. It takes me a few minutes to process how much work I was doing when I was supposed to be asleep. Questing after dragons while both awake and asleep…exhausting. I. Am. Tired.
7. I am trying. I really am. I am getting out and doing things with friends. I am trying to see things that are beautiful, even when beauty sometimes breaks my heart. I have good friends who know where I am right now and are getting me to come out and do things. I seem to have a few good days in a row, which may be followed by a few bad days. If I flake on you, it might just be that I am completely exhausted, or that I can’t stop crying. Please be patient with me. I’ll get back to normal.
I was reminded of a couple of posts by some pretty incredible women. The first is from Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggress, a couple of years ago, in which she explains what it is like when a depressive episode finally lifts. She credits friends, wine, and music. I second all three of those! I’m Coming out of This. Eventually
The second is more recently from Jen Yates over at Epbot (even if I never get as crafty as she is, her craft tutorials are amazing). She discusses the fact that we often fight against using medication for psychiatric disorders, but really, they are our Monster-Slaying Swords. It is hard for me to confess to my doctor that I need a higher dose of medication or that I am just not getting by.
Both of these writers inspire me and give me faith and hope that through the hard times, the joy and the laughs and the fun will be back again. That being said, I should make sure that I have clean clothes for tomorrow (as well as a clean me), and start facing the looming week. Let’s see what it throws at me.
What should you be doing right now?