I have Bi-Polar II. I had felt pretty good for a while now. Until about the last month…
I started noticing some hypomanic symptoms. Nothing earth shattering. (I don’t leap off tall buildings or anything…when I get manic, I can’t still my body, sometimes my behaviour gets a little unboundaried, I have trouble sleeping, I get kind of compulsive about some things. I CLEAN! Giant red flag. That kind of stuff.) But it feels like a long time since I had grappled with stuff on that end of the spectrum. So I noticed.
And then the pendulum swung.
I don’t know if it’s the change in weather, my time off of social media, an extra 20 lbs, or having a few drinks now and then. I don’t know if it’s the absence of a relationship that was incredibly important to me, or slowly watching my mum slip away. I don’t know if it’s the Bermuda Triangle of money, (self-)employment, and health. I don’t even really know if I can tease apart the symptoms and the cause. But I know I’m having an extremely hard time getting out of bed.
The weird thing is that there’s a shit-ton of stuff I want to do. I have great plans each day. Accomplishing any of them is a battle.
Maybe I need to set up a workstation in my bed. (I could make a lot of money that way! No…just kidding.) Maybe I need to make my ass leave the house and work at the library or something, just so in nowhere near nap-zone.
My shrink said no more meds. I’m already kinda up there with my mood meds. He said vitamin D (I’ve been taking it daily for a couple of years already.) A sun lamp – I need to sit in front of full spectrum light for an hour a day. (Clearly, I need to make a purchase…and they’re not cheap.) And exercise.
Ahh, exercise. I stopped being able to exercise in the summer, and I have had a helluva time getting back into it. I have done some…gone for a few runs, been to the gym a bit. But I need to have a regular routine. That would help immensely.
Finances are particularly fragile right now, for a few reasons. So now, more than ever, I need to be busting my butt. AND. My pattern is that my health becomes an obstruction to success.
Where do I get to interrupt that cycle? How do I establish a new pattern?
It’s all well and good to say, “Just do it differently.” And entirely useless. That’s a bit like saying, “Just stop having seizures,” or “Lay off the cancer, would ya?” Depression doesn’t go away just because we want it to. Good Lord, I wish it did.
It boils back down to what actually is in my control. I can have a few small goals that I aim to accomplish every day. When I say small, I actually mean small. To the depressed, small can seem insurmountable.
1. Get out of bed at X o’clock. (For me, between 8:00 and 9:00 would be reasonable.)
2. Write My Favourite Things each day. (A daily gratitude practice has been invaluable to me in the past…and funny enough, I’ve been a little spotty about doing it daily in the last two-ish months.)
3. Have a shower. That might sound ridiculous to some of you. But when you A) work at home and some days don’t see a soul, and B) can barely get out of bed, showering daily becomes more of an overwhelming chore than you’d think.
4. Eat. I go one way or the other with food. I overeat, or I barely eat. I have a real problem with eating a balanced, healthy diet, and appropriate amounts of food. And that’s at the best of times. And when depression kicks in, that all really goes into overdrive. I forget to eat (never thought I’d say those words), or it seems like too much of a chore to find interesting food, or I eat everything in the kitchen. This is compounded by the fact that I have recently gotten lazy about the no meat, no dairy, no gluten that has served me well the last couple of years…because starting to eat that stuff again hasn’t given me migraines, and eating it is easier than not eating it.
5. Get dressed. Again, I work at home, and sometimes I don’t see anyone for a few days. I can stay in Pajamas for a week. Except…bad decision. It’s really hard to find motivation in your Pajamas. Much easier to get motivated when you look presentable, if not totally rockin’.
6. Keep my surroundings clean. I know that I am a victim of “cluttered space, cluttered mind” syndrome. Unquestionably. The more chaotic my surroundings, the more anxious and less motivated I become. It’s hard when my kids are here to keep the house reasonable. But when they’re at their dad’s, it’s easier. Either way, it makes an enormous difference to me.
That’s kind of it. Probably seems like basic life to most of you. And to those of us struggling with depression, it seems like a full day’s work. Perspective is a funny thing, isn’t it?
Mental health is a massive issue in our society. Depression is not always talked about openly. We often feel like we have somehow failed or are less than if we are mired in depression. And it’s not the case. The only way we can make progress is to start having the conversation. The only way we can bring it into the light is if we open up. The only way we can support each other is if we know that something is going on.
Crack the door and let the light in.
Have you or someone you love struggled with depression? What worked? What really didn’t work? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.