For me, there are two things that get simultaneously affected when my mood gets low enough that medication stops working properly (or at least doesn’t work as well as it should); my motivation to do anything, and my sleep. I would say that they aren’t linked; but whoever heard of someone making absolute sense (without a little bit of ‘crazy’) after three days of no rest?
This time I have been lucky; the sleep has been coming in fits and starts, one night I will get five hours, the next I will get nothing at all. Last night I was lucky, I managed three hours before the alarm woke me, informing me that it was Friday morning and I had to go about being a functioning grown-up again.
Worse still, my muse has deserted me. I often wonder if, at times like these, he has a deserted island covered with palm trees and a gorgeous beach where he retreats when he is determined to ensure that not only am I not sleeping, but I am also not able to do anything constructive. I want to write, or to visit that beach and get waited on by a shirtless Chris Evans (Captain America not Radio 1 DJ).
I will say that I am being good; I am taking my medication (all 13 pills of it) on a daily basis. I am trying to fit in meditation, I WILL go back to the gym when the gastric issue stops flaring up to the point that I want to throw up when I bend over. I have been out with friends, I have been to the cinema, I even spent a whole day in town with a friend who is addicted to shopping for clothes and spent not a single penny! I am one of those functioning depressives. When I was first diagnosed people were surprised “but you can’t be depressed, you’ve nothing to be depressed about” was the one I heard most (from my nan and her sister)…from friends I had “there’s no way you’re depressed, you go out, you do stuff, you have fun.” I guess I should’ve won an Oscar for my performance because I have grown really good at putting on a mask and pretending.
People still have a really strange and uninformed view of those of us with mental health issues. If you can’t see it ALL the time then it doesn’t exist. Some workplaces are still like that, they don’t know how to handle depression or breakdowns or stress and exhaustion. At some point I am hopeful that this will change, and there will no longer be a stigma associated with it. I can cope with stuff, I cope with extra long working hours when it’s busy, I can even cope with disappointment (if I couldn’t I think I would have seriously put more thought into ending it at certain points over the last couple of years). It’s actually frightening how ill-educated people are about mental health issues, so many people suffer from depression and because funding on the NHS is minimal and help is so difficult to come by it’s only when things like the tragic stabbing of Donald Lock come to light that any thought is put into the “well perhaps when we cut funding to that portion of the health service we were a little short-sighted.”
Mental health has always been an issue – depression has always been something that people suffer from, we should no longer be ashamed to say “I suffer from depression,” or “I have social anxiety and have panic attacks when I am in large crowds of strangers.” Unfortunately, even with Hollywood stars coming out and admitting that they suffer from both of these things (and more) we still have those old-style people saying “seriously, get a different job then,” or “don’t be so pathetic, grow a pair.” My own grandmother used to say that I had no reason to be depressed as my life was peachy (HA, but less about that crap, really). Bipolar disorder (previously called manic depression) has become a status symbol; sure it makes people aware, but really, it’s not a Prada handbag ffs.
I have my bad days; believe me, I have REALLY bad days. Sometimes I can barely force myself to get out of bed, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I spend hours crying over absolutely nothing at all and I want nothing more than for people to stop asking if I’m okay. No, I am not okay, no there is nothing you can do to help me, no I don’t want you to sit there and stare at me like I am a freak of nature.
I have a really tenuous relationship with my mum – which is crap as she’s the only parent I have left (my dad passed away when he was just 34). Sometimes we get on really well (like on Monday when I was doped up to the gills after a gastroscopy and biopsy), and then other times we flare up at each other over nothing. At Christmas we had a flare up – it was bad, so bad that I didn’t know if we would come back from it, and it was over something so bloody stupid you would not believe. Anyway, it was at this point that my sister (for the first time in my memory) stepped in and forced my mum to apologise. My sister has seen me at my worst; she took me to the doctors when I hadn’t slept for weeks (I think that I was coasting by on fumes), when I was so low that I was barely getting a word out, when I felt so crap about life that I had stockpiled pain meds “just in case.” I think that the memory of this is likely what pushed my sister to interfere, and I am glad she did. Mum hadn’t realised until my sister pointed out that I was a sufferer of severe depression who’d had a breakdown before the age of 16, that I pushed myself and still felt like I was getting nowhere and being mad at me for something I didn’t do was bloody ridiculous. Guilt eats at me, even if I am not responsible, and for some reason it leads to no sleep, which leads to low mood, which leads to various other things I don’t want to go through again in a hurry. Anyway, we made up – the relationship is still tenuous, but I think that now she might have a better idea of my mental state.
I look fine but depression is like a cancer, it can be invisible.
I guess what I am trying to say, is that I had an episode or two over the last few weeks; the issue with the job offer and the way that the agency dealt with it (that still makes me a little angry), the things that are happening at work that I still don’t understand (seriously, another consultant?) and constantly feeling like something is going to happen (it’s a sick feeling in my gut that leads to dark thoughts at night which lead to little or no sleep) are not making me the best person to be around, but I am still here, and I am still functioning, so that’s something. Right?
Anyway, enough of the rambling, I seem to have gone a little bit off track. Needless to say I am going to attempt meditation this weekend in an effort to get the muse working again, AND I am going to a swimming zumba class on Sunday before ducking into the steam room and heat beds for a bit of a detox, so I have some good intentions and some plans which will hopefully boost my mood and get me back in the right frame of mind to function as I would like (here I was tempted to say ‘normal human being’ but who’s to say what’s normal and what’s not?).