Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Truth

I'm going to start by saying it's taking quite a lot of my courage to write this post. I hope if anyone reads it they will understand why I'm writing it: not as a cry for help or to beg indirectly for sympathy, but as more of a way of explaining what a depression feels like for me. No doubt it'll help get it off my chest and perhaps someone will read it and recognise the feelings and maybe that will help them in a roundabout way. Or maybe not.

Most of the time I like to write when I'm feeling strong. I like to write mostly about behaviour I observe in others and how I feel that behaviour relates to myself. I like to feel I'm giving suggestions, answers maybe... But this time I'm not going to talk about anybody else and I'm not going to give any advice. I'm going to talk about myself.

Beginning with the fact that just writing that one sentence immediately brings up feelings of insecurity and... it's not self hate... self dislike would be a better explaination of the feeling. Because what gives me the right to broadcast to the world my own feelings of self pity? Why would I want to trouble people who clearly have bigger problems than I do but who keep them quietly to themselves and deal with them? Why would I want to inflict my own misery onto friends who have put time and effort into finding a happy place in their lives- why would I want to bring their mood down? Why am I being so stubbornly self centred? Why do I feel the need to feel sorry for myself? Why can I not just pull myself together? I can hear my own Dad's voice in my head: memories of a fourteen year old me being scolded for those very things. I can remember childishly wanting sympathy but in an awkward adolescent way not being able to ask for it correctly, and angering my parents instead.

Those and many other thoughts race through my mind quicker than I can decipher them when I say something like 'I'm going to talk about myself' and I'm just left with a sickening feeling of guilt.

Over the past months I have been working on finding a balance in my life and in my head: a place where instead of swinging violently between over-the-moon and bottom-of-the-ocean, I could maybe laze on the beach instead, metaphorically speaking! And though it has felt like a hard graft at times, I do believe I am learning to settle my emotions by a process of understanding what drives my behaviour, coping with my symptoms of PMT and finding ways to step outside of the usual emotional loops.

But there are still times when everything I've learnt gets swept away in an emotional tidalwave and I find myself back at square one.... exactly where I find myself today.

So far 2012 has been a bit of a whirlwind. I have had fantastic highlights: social events, trips to the countryside, winter camping, tai chi... but behind that I am still struggling with relationships, money and unobtained life aspirations. Rocky terrain to traverse. So when insomnia and PMT kick in, back to the ocean bed I sink.

The truth is I am exhausted. And there again is that feeling of sickening guilt. How dare I feel tired? How many of my friends are working 50 hour weeks, cycling to and from work, putting in overtime, spending most of their spare time busy with whatever other things fill their lives... and not complaining? I work from home, I can have time off if I need it, I can wake up late if I need to... how dare I feel tired?!? But it can't be avoided and it can't be denied... I am simply exhausted. Maybe it's years of internal conflict, maybe it's more to do with the last year of trying to sort out that internal conflict, maybe it's just this time of year! I just don't know the answer to that. But over the past couple of months I keep finding myself so low on energy I can barely make it out of the bedroom. And some will say 'that's entirely psycological'. Fuck, I even tell myself that! But all I can say to that is- do you think I choose to feel this way? I'll tell you right now that I don't! I know that it's a sypmtom of depression to dig yourself into a reclusive little hole and stay there, but I would imagine the people who find themselves comfortable in that hole have lost the will to get out of it (and I honestly understand how a person could feel that way) but I have not. I am trying with every inch of me to scramble out of this hole, and let me tell you now it is as knackering as physically trying to scramble out of a deep muddy-banked hole!

And then there's the insomnia. Always kicks in when I hit the bottom, and that is the least helpful thing my brain and body can do when I'm there. I feel immensly tired but it's like a door's been wedged open somewhere deep in my brain, letting a stream of consciousness through that I just can't block out. So then I've got hours in which to lie there, trying to entice sleep but instead finding myself going over and over things in my head: and some of those things are inevitably, very unhealthy things to think. Then of course, the next day, through lack of sleep, I find myself over emotional and the root of the insomnia is increased tenfold and even if it was just a niggle the day before, now it is a mountain I have to climb... a mountain I have to climb on 3 hours sleep...

I need a hug. It's on these days that I feel hideously single (there are, of course days when I feel gorgeously single, but today is not one of those days). Logically I know that even if I was in a relationship, my own reluctancy to accept that I deserve sympathy would prevent me from asking for it, but in my head, if I had a boyfriend, now is the point at which he would take me in his arms and stroke my hair until I felt like myself again.

I might at this point, send an encrypted text message to a friend, hoping they will read between the lines and ask me if I'm OK, and then I can say 'no actually I need a hug' and they will say 'Oh poor you! Hope you feel better soon' and then I will feel better. But I will never actually ask for sympathy and I will very rarely get it because of that.

And that is my depression in a nutshell. Maybe tonight I will sleep right through the night and maybe tomorrow I will read back through this passage and, with a twinge of embarrassment, tell myself I was being self centred and over emotional, and that I should never ever show this side of me to anybody because they will think less of me. But if I spend my good days denying to myself or anybody else that this side of me exists, won't that just widen the gap between the happy me and the sad me? After all, I am trying to combine the two rather than seperate them.

Look after of yourselves.

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