It’s day 39 and the last two days have been grim: days spent huddled under a blanket on the sofa, shaking; unable to speak; to engage with anyone; to watch TV; even to read.
These depressive episodes normally last between 40 – 45 days, and so I could come up anytime from tomorrow. It will be instant – just as going down is instant. One moment I will be disconnected from the world, weak, with shaky legs, impaired speech, balance and cognitive facilities; the next, everything will be normal. The world will sparkle, and I can touch it. People will be real. Strength and energy will return.
Except, right now, that future normality seems as unreal as everything else, and I’m scared.
There is a strange kind of comfort in the disconnect of depression. There are no emotions other than a nebulous sense of guilt and distress, anxiety and fear. The world is so far away it can’t reach me. People are not real, so they can’t hurt me.
When I go down, I try to be responsible. I cancel all unnecessary professional and social engagements; I don’t drive; I get the shopping delivered; we eat “easy” food; the dust builds up and the garden reverts to nature. I abdicate, because there’s no other option.
When the 42 days of “imprisonment” are up, and I’m released, there are all the undone jobs, the rescheduled professional commitments, the dirty house and neglected garden. Suddenly, they are my responsibility again and the enormity of the tasks seem overwhelming.
Or they seem overwhelming from here. Everything is so scary I want to stay here, huddled under the blanket, hiding from the world. I must remind myself that, with release, comes energy and enthusiasm. I am not thrust from this prison with no resources. I will be given what I need.
The fear and anxiety are part of the depression. There is a reason the Moodscope test has four cards labelled “Afraid,” “Anxious,” “Nervous” and “Scared.”
As so often, the secret to managing this is to take a step back and to view one’s emotions dispassionately. Our emotions are not reality; they are chemically induced. It is chemicals that cause this fear, and it’s the bipolar disorder that controls the chemicals.
And, at this point, I do acknowledge that emotions are also generated by thoughts; and those thoughts generate the chemicals, but that subject is several blog’s worth by itself. In fact, it’s several book’s worth!
So, I’m scared of the light; I’m scared of freedom; I’m scared to leave my blanket and the sofa.
But, when it happens, I know I’ll rejoice!
What is freedom from depression, or the thought of freedom, like for you? Do you long for it, or is longing beyond your capabilities right now? For you who have experienced the prison of depression and the release from it, how was it for you? Please comment and let us know.