Inside a Depressive Episode

It’s something like being a zombie, if zombies have any inner life.

(And if there were such things as zombies.)

I couldn’t write this post in the deepest part of it. It was like trying to write trying to walk through tar, through mud, through wet cement.

I couldn’t feel joy. There was no way of holding interest in anything. Everything took too much anything to do. There was no focus.

Everything that I recognized as positive about myself was gone. Even most of my negative traits faded to nothing, leading me to wondering Where am I?

It brought back my desire to self harm, the classic desire to feel something, anything.

(It makes me angry when people mock those with self harm scars. Really, they don’t understand, so they should keep silent. Good piece of life advice, really.)

Now I can write, which is something of a relief. The worst is over. But now I’m afraid. I know that it’s there. It’s always there. It can claim me again.

(Wow. That was a little dramatic.)

But that’s how it feels. It’s something inside my own head, an illness that can trap me with little or no warning. That makes me feel like a successful or happy life might be impossible-plenty of people succumb to this illness, people who have ‘made it’, and I sure as hell haven’t.

I don’t have any plans on giving in.

Of course there are intrusive thoughts. It’s part of the package. That doesn’t mean I have to listen to them. I might have to pull a Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind-

-(I refer to the movie and not to Robert Nash because I don’t know how Nash dealt with his illness in his life. I assume the movie took some liberties, not the least of which being that Nash’s hallucination’s were (if I recall correctly) auditory, not visual.)-

-and just ignore them forever though sheer force of will.

Well, along with a combination of drugs and support from competent providers, because I am now convinced that my brain is too complex and heavy for me to deal with on my own, and anyone who thinks that I am weak willed and need to buck up and go for a walk in nature to heal can…hmm. Go crack a tooth on a pebble.

Something that helps me, and may help you: Do something physical. Just a little. Eat a square of good chocolate. Rub on scented lotion. Yoga. Go for a walk. Get a massage. Do some push ups. If you can, masturbate. (No, I’m not joking.) Clean something. Play music from junior high high and bob your head along to it. Heck, sit outside and get some air, if nothing else.

And if you’re like how I was on Monday,  and you’re just totally stuck, eyes staring at nothing, reach out.

Say to someone you trust, help me. If you don’t have anyone, try a crisis chat or telephone line. Just don’t sink into it more. Breathe. Remember that it ends.

And allow yourself recovery time-it’s exhausting!

J.

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Chipping

I am highly detail orientated; mostly due to the fact that looking the big picture for too long tends to trigger my anxiety and shuts down productivity, making things that are achievable seem insurmountable.

So I chip away at the goals, making them smaller. More manageable. My brain recognizes them as tasks that are easy to accomplish, that are easy to repeat, and rewards itself for accomplishing them, therefore escaping (at least temporarily) self doubt.

Exhibit A: I want to/have to lose at least forty pounds. I rarely think about this, because it seems completely impossible, and I curl up in despair wailing about what a fat useless lump I am.

But ten pounds? I can lose ten pounds four times. I can stumble over losing them, and it can be hard, and frustrating, but ten pounds isn’t so much. That’s something you try to do in time for a wedding! I can do that!

(Slowly. I can do it slowly.)

It works on skills too.

Duolingo works that way, a language learned through as many minutes a day you can squeeze in, and rewards you for consistency.

I’m practicing sketching, and for someone who was never naturally gifted at the visual arts, it’s a little like a penguin learning to tango. But twenty minutes a day, at least a few times a week, and I’m starting to improve, chipping away at my lack of skill to reveal new abilities. I will also occasionally proclaim ‘THE THING LOOKS LIKE THE THING’, and beam with pride.

Chipping also allows for me to have some sort of standards for myself, while keeping my standards reasonable.

I am the queen of unreasonable standards for myself.

Any failure, however insignificant, leads to a crash and self doubt.

I get a pseudo-sexual thrill from a completed to-do list.

So by using chipping, I can achieve small goals and keep up self esteem, while working towards bigger goals and don’t blame myself for not knowing six languages, developing a cancer cure, writing a well written and best selling novel, and looking like a bikini model. In six months.

If you also don’t give yourself enough credit, or suffer from depression, I recommend chipping.

I had to chip away at this post!

J