[Image description: A Polaroid photo against a carpet. In the photo, Allison is smiling into the camera. Their hair is down. They wear a sweater, a t-shirt and dark pants.]
In a phrase: worse for wear. The last two weeks have been marked by my first depressive episode since I got diagnosed in October. And I’ve been getting by (just barely) with lots of Instagram scrolling, ASMR videos and generous support from my partner. But all in all, shit’s been hard. For folks without depression, imagine the following two scenarios. A) You think to do something, and say, “alright, I will. Let me spend the next half hour preparing to do this thing.” B) You get in the shower because you have to wash your hair, then as soon as the water hits your scalp, you realize you don’t have the energy to follow through. Imagine the feelings those scenarios conjure, then apply them towards nearly every action you do for anywhere between two days and two months.
And as you may recall, my New Years Resolution for 2018 is to have a better outlook. I prepared for this new year with more purposeful introspection than ever before: using my rough 2017 as evidence for how to move forward and naming what I want more of this year. I spent over an hour recording a reflection of 2017 so that I could hear, in my own words, what happened and what changed. And that’s all…helpful, I suppose. But this latest episode reiterated something I’ve known for a while. I can do all of this mental hygiene work when I’m feeling well, but when I’m not, my mind is on two different tracks. There’s a small, regional train that stops off at different topics – “healthy relationship practices,” “self-care rituals,” “how to improve my communication.” And then there’s a Maglev that speeds towards unlit tunnels, unclear as to whether the other side is boarded up, a cliff, or whether it exists at all. And through the depths of my depression, they move simultaneously. I can hear the calm, familiar voice in my head that says everything I’m feeling will pass and generate evidence as to why those depressed thoughts are baseless. But then, the much louder depressed voice will shout things that aren’t worth repeating except to my therapist. So I’m left sleep deprived, disoriented and pretty frustrated.
And in talking about my depression – just how I talk in general, I’m trying to move away from adding a little ding positive note at the end of everything. So, after sleeping for 15 hours straight, I won’t tell you that everything’s fine.
But, there is something to be said about being proactive about these situations and realizing they will come whether I like it or not, rather than trying to combat them in a sluggish state. It’s hard to break old habits, especially when they’re tried and true ways to keep myself safe, but now I have the ability to question whether there are better ways to do the same things. This most recent episode was brought on by the knowledge that I have yet another life transition ahead of me this year. My first post-grad job is ending in several months, and I’ve made the decision to uproot myself yet again (and not go to grad school), but this time in hopes of settling, if only for two or three years. And it’s amazing how the body and unconscious mind remember the past more than our most present selves do. The first time I had to find a full-time job and subsequently move, every aspect of my life felt up in the air. And now…that isn’t the case. Sure, things will change, but I feel much more in control than I did the first time, however daunting it feels.
So, 2018 got off to a rough start. But I’m hoping that I can continue to absorb this knowledge I’m getting about myself and ding apply it towards that better outlook.