Depression is kicking my butt.
Not really anything new, perhaps. My journey hasn’t been smooth or flat. Many hills, several mountains. Some travel has been on solid pavement, some has been on gravel road with deep ruts. Occasionally there have been huge boulders in my path that I tried to move and eventually had to move around. I have run into plenty of dead-ends as well.
The depression never has claimed total victory. I’m still here. I can’t say I’ve ever been able to declare a clear triumph, either. The best I have managed some days is, well, managing.
That’s the case now. I’m managing to live life – somewhat passably. I have some concerns, though. Frankly, I spend most of every day feeling like I’m on the edge of a really bad place. I don’t feel at all suicidal during this episode, but I do constantly have an intuition that I am about to undergo a genuine mental breakdown.
I wish I knew what that actually means.
Why am I writing about this? Ah, why do I write about anything? I share my thoughts and experiences in hopes of fostering awareness, understanding and compassion. Not for myself. I am blessed to have people in my life who understand and support. I know that not everyone who lives with depression, anxiety or any other mental illness is as fortunate.
I have a headache, from the moment I wake up until I close my eyes begging God to let sleep come quickly. That rarely happens. Last night, for instance, I know I was still awake two hours after I turned out the lamp on my nightstand. When I finally did wake up to the alarm clock, I couldn’t get out of bed. I finally summoned the strength about two hours later. It doesn’t sound like much, but that was a monumental task that took every bit of my energy.
Then, I spent the rest of the day yawning. Wide. Even though I was really busy at work, I never felt fully engaged, always with a bit of distracted attention. Alas, that’s the daily pattern.
I’m not eating well, sometimes too much and other times not enough. Heavy on fast food and candy and cookies, as my body seems to crave sugar and my will not strong enough to pass it up.
In addition to the headache, I have a noticeable, ever-present soreness in my arms and hands. I lose the ability to concentrate for more than about 15 minutes at a time in the early afternoon, and I never truly regain any improvement until the next day. That makes work projects a challenge; just getting through each successive hour at my job takes all sorts of willpower (that I don’t have) and physical stamina (that also is lacking). That makes it tough to study for a major exam I have for work in April. That makes it difficult to write – and with fewer than a dozen pieces of writing for this website in March, it’s clear I have fallen short.
I am weak. I feel like I’m letting people down.
I am decidedly antisocial; I simply don’t feel like talking. Last week was Holy Week, and I enjoyed every moment I spent at church. There were a lot of such moments. Easter joy? My heart and soul were busting with joy – and I still feel it. In moments of solitude and private prayer, I am overwhelmed by God’s love and presence. He seems to be filling my mind and spirit with all sorts of insight.
Despite that, prayer is difficult right now. Once I get started – by opening my prayer book, taking out my rosary, getting myself quiet, addressing God in whatever way my spirit chooses – I’m fine. God takes over. But getting started is exhausting.
Even in the eyes of God, I feel like my self-esteem is buried deep somewhere. I have extremely heightened sensitivity and fear; I am hyper-concerned about what others think about me – wife and children, dad and sisters, friends and work colleagues, readers of my blog and, yes, I’m irrationally concerned about how even God regards me these days.
I continue to take my medication. I will see my therapist next week. I use my light box at work in hopes of returning to some positive sleep pattern. I will try to eat properly. I remain dedicated to my life of prayer.
And I hope that at some point soon, I can start kicking back at the depression.