Easy Does It

6 Jan 2021

There are wonderful times when the depression lifts.

I hope, for you too, depression is not a permanent state – although I know for many it is long term and can seem like a whole-life prison sentence without reprieve.

I’m lucky in that respect. My bipolar disorder means although I am unlikely ever to be free of these periods of depression, they are intermittent and these days, thanks to medication, less frequent and of shorter duration than formerly.

I came out of this one on 28th December; it lasted 24 days and seemed like forever. While it lasted, it was completely incapacitating. My husband and children shopped, cooked and cleaned while I wandered around in a fog and forgot everything they told me within ten minutes. I tried to carry on working, but it was impossible, and I had to write to my clients explaining I was ill and would not be available until further notice.

But it lifted. On 28th December I awoke clear-headed; the fog had gone. My body was my own again. Suddenly, I could feel my fingertips at the end of my arms - which were of normal length. I wanted to jump and laugh and celebrate. But I couldn’t, because my legs were still wobbly. The energy levels are taking a while to catch up.

It is frustrating because, of course; all the tasks I wanted to do in December are still there; they haven’t gone away. The difference is that now I can see them again, without the fog, and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Quite frankly, it’s depressing!

I texted a friend about this. “So much has been neglected while I have been ill,” I said.

“Not neglected,” she replied. “Reprioritised, and rightly so.

“You must recover fully,” she continued. “It’s important to get your foundations strengthened first.”

She’s right. If it had been the ‘flu, or covid, I would not expect to bounce back immediately; I would take it slowly and give myself time to recuperate. I might take a measured return to work: part time to begin with. I might sit down and read a book with the cat on my lap. I would not berate myself for taking the time to convalesce.

So often we, who might know better, still refuse to treat our depression as a real illness. We think of it as being only mental and emotional, and do not appreciate the full effect it has on the body. Depression is often physical as well as mental and emotional: it is a whole-body illness.

So, let’s be gentle on ourselves. I know this is easier to say than to do but we should take this lesson to heart. Live every moment; take baby steps; set small, easily achievable goals.

Today I will go through my emails. Tomorrow I will reconcile my bank statement. Small, needful tasks; I won’t ask anything more of myself.

We recover faster if we take it slowly, wherever we are in our illness.


A Moodscope member.

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