I hate depression.
I hate that I can be having a good day, or even a good week, and then *BAM* – I run into a wall. My wife told me a few days ago that when I’m depressed, I’m “predictably unpredictable.” That’s the same thing I say about my depression.
AND THEN, SUDDENLY…
I was just listening to a song by Halsey called Alone. I don’t know the words, I just like the music. But that’s how I feel right now. After about a week of feeling pretty good, I feel deeply depressed and alone.
How does that happen??
It started yesterday, after I published my last post, What Do You Tell Yourself?
I actually wrote most of that post two years ago, before I even discovered DBT. I was feeling good after my first round ever of TMS, and the post is about how we judge ourselves and tell ourselves lies and other things that aren’t true.
So, yesterday’s post was a positive one. It’s full of hope and the belief that we can stop telling ourselves – and believing – the nasty shit that pops up in our heads.
I’ve gotten barely any social response from it, but that’s okay. It helped me to finish and publish it. Every time I put myself out there, I’m putting my real self out there. No fluff. No pussy-footing. Hardly any justifications for my past behaviors. So, for me, it’s a real accomplishment.
Yesterday, here in Minneapolis, we had a mini-snowmageddon. (Hahaha, my spell check has NO idea what to do with that word!) So it was a great day to just get comfy, drink some coffee, and fart around.
And fart around, I did. I spent countless hours lost in Facebook, which is pretty rare. I’m more of a Twitter girl, so I spent some time there, too. (My handle is @TheMHWriter in case you’re in the Twitterverse, too.)
Before I knew it, it was evening and I had gotten nothing done but publishing that post and doing two loads of laundry.
Maybe that’s when it started.
FEELINGS CAN SUCK
All I know for sure is that I realized I felt that ugly hole in my heart. It’s a very distinct physical sensation that indicates either that I’m substantially depressed or I’m really anxious. Mostly depressed.
Boy, was I pissed! Here I was, having a fifth or sixth good day in a row (minus one slight panic attack the day before) and now this. I tried some positive self-talk, which helps in that moment, but honestly – there comes a point when I become so deeply depressed/anxious/angry/or whatever, that my skills are of no use.
That’s a real thing, by the way. I can’t remember the term DBT uses for it, but it’s when your emotions are so strong that you are unable to access your skills. I call it The Breaking Point.
So I popped a Xanax to ward off any further anxiety and laid down with CeAnne for a little while. I held her really tight to try and fill that hole where my heart is supposed to be.
It helped with that part of it, which is good. I tell ya, I can’t really explain that sensation of having a hole in my heart, but it is an actual physical sensation. It’s like a void. A black hole. It’s knowing there’s supposed to be something there, but it’s not. It’s being empty, and that hurts.
Does that make any sense? Does anyone else ever get that?
Although I felt a little better after spending some quality time with CeAnne, I was still mostly unable to function. I did nothing the rest of the night and went to bed at 11:00 p.m.
I have a very long, distorted history with sleep, but for the last – I don’t know, couple years? – I’ve been able to consistently fall asleep within five or ten minutes. I’m sure my nighttime meds help with that.
Now, the quality of my sleep varies greatly. I have a lot of bad dreams and nightmares and often wake up simply exhausted right in the middle of them. For a while, my pdoc prescribed a med called Prazosin to help with that, and it really did. Though I remembered less of my dreams, I almost never had a bad one while I was on it.
After a few months, though, I decided to discontinue the Prazosin because I already spend about $250 on medication co-pays every month. I’ve been cutting out what seem to be the not-so-important drugs. (CeAnne won’t let me stop taking my cholesterol and triglyceride meds, though.)
Enough about sleep and drugs. Back to the topic.
I felt okay enough for the first half hour or so after I woke up today. My stomach was yelling at me, though, and even though I can endure a lot of pain (both physical and emotional), it still sucks. That didn’t help my mood.
So I sat down to work on my novel, a psychological thriller. And I just…sat and stared at the screen.
That’s when I felt it. The black hole was back. I even called Kim (my therapist) and left a message for her to call me. It will take a few hours for her to get time to call me back, but she will. Get this: A therapist who actually calls you back! On the same day!
Damn, I’m lucky.
It’s pretty rare for me to do that, since it seems to have been an unwritten rule (later confirmed by one of my parents) that people should be able to take care of their own problems.
Well, I’ve never fallen for that. Not since I was a kid, anyway.
I’ve been in and out of the mental health system since I was fourteen. That was literally 3.5 decades ago! Oh, old age, just go away! 😉
Don’t worry, I’m not getting into any of that here today. You’ll have to read my memoir, whenever I get around to writing that.
MENTAL WELLNESS IS HARD WORK
I’ve been doing TMS daily again now for a week (except for yesterday, what with our biggest snowfall of the winter so far). It’s really made a difference. But dammit, I still sometimes get stuck in the depths.
There should be some kind of law against that: No mental illness relapse allowed!
I mean, really, isn’t it enough that I’ve spent 35 years fighting it, accepting it, suffering from it, surviving it, living with it?
I’m trying, I really am. I especially worked my ass off all of 2017 to get better (and I did, until I had to quit that literacy tutoring position I had and crashed badly). All bets have been off since then.
You should see my calendar from last year. I had my own mental health appointments 3-4 times a week for much of the year, not to mention the occasional “other” appointments that come up. Plus, I go to all of CeAnne’s appointments with her for moral support. (Have I told you that she has MS? It helps if two sets of ears go to her appointments, plus, of course, I want to be there for her.) I also take her mom to a lot of her appointments.
My whole life is a series of appointments, and sometimes I get burned out.
USING MY SUPPORT TEAM
As I sit here at the dining room table, I’m attempting to wait – patiently – for Kim to call me back. I don’t know what I’m going to say, and I don’t know what she’s going to suggest. That’s part of The Breaking Point, too – being just so overwhelmed that you have no idea what to do next.
In the addiction support group I sometimes go to (although not for a while), they say, “Do the next right thing.” That keeps it nice and simple, and I can usually figure out what that is. But overwhelm is a terrible thing. It makes life a real chore, and my ability to make decisions goes out the window.
Having more than a couple options really throws me off, makes me freeze.
That’s when I need to lean on my support team, both personal and professional. I’ll call Kim or Brianna (my awesome case manager), or talk to CeAnne or maybe my friend Barb. The point is, I try. I am so much better at reaching out than I once was, and it really helps.
I have no control over what helps the most, though – time. My support team is a means to get me through the rough times until I can use my tools and climb out of the hole (with the appropriate help). They also remind me what tools I have, because, in times of stress, I forget. It’s like everything I’ve learned about myself and my ability to cope have temporarily left my brain.
I would be lost without my team.
So, I’ll wait for Kim to call. I’ll talk to CeAnne. I just had a meeting with my case manager. She gave me the numbers to two crisis lines I can call 24/7.
I’ll do my best to keep myself distracted by writing, listening to music, maybe taking a nap. Oh, I also baked today for the first time in ages, which really helped because I was totally focused on that task rather than overthinking and ruminating.
Maybe I’ll feel better tonight. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. I don’t know when it will happen (or why, if there is a why), but I know this shitty feeling will go away. It always does. It may take six years, but hey – if I can make it through that episode, I can make it through this.
Thanks for helping me Keep it Real.