Blue's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (life viewed through the lens of depression)
Some of you are aware of my existence by now, but for those who aren't, I'm fairly new to this forum. I've been stumbling my way along with depression for somewhere around seven years. It was triggered by a life event and exacerbated by circumstances since then, which I've done my best to eliminate where possible. About a year ago I changed track with that and made the huge decision to end the relationship I was in. Rough though that was, I finally started to see a bit of progress. I've still had a fight on my hands, to stay afloat and get control of my time and money and my peace of mind, all of which were tied up for a long time in untangling my finances from those of my ex (not his fault, the bank made it really damn hard, and my job and my own state of mind weren't helping).
Now I've started enjoying things again, and am not always instantly down when I'm on my own. I was once a (deliberately) solitary creature who enjoyed my own company and learning everything I could, so it's good to be more like that again. The depression's always there, lurking in the background, but I sometimes go a few weeks at a time without any prolonged episodes. Long enough to start feeling like I'm healing or that my emotions have some concept of cause and effect again. Then down I slam again, sometimes for a day or two, other times for weeks, and it feels like I've made no progress at all. In these periods my mind and my emotions are constantly at war, particularly when I'm alone and/or it's quiet. My mind is calm for the most part, and well aware I'm strong and capable and have strategies and I actively work on those in spite of the depression. My emotions, on the other hand, are running about with flags chock full of negative messages and even though I know it's not (or even close) I feel like everything is collapsing, that I can't deal with it and I just want everything to stop. That's where I'm at, today.
I do have an amazing partner now, who is extremely supportive, and has helped me immensely. My current problem is that I need my friends and family, too. I so rarely have time that isn't ruined by unsociable work hours and also the energy and will to socialise, but my friends are seldom available when I do. In those times I know it may be weeks or months before I can see them again, and I miss them, and that's mostly when I crash again these days. Dunno how to fix that yet, but I need to vent, and here I am. Getting better but having a really crap day.
Hi Blue's Clues (I like that name by the way).
I am so sorry that your post got looked over somehow. It always feels like that for me, that the moment you decide yes, I am going to reach out, is the very day that no one is available or aware enough to hear you.
I hope it is some consolation that I hear you know (figuratively of course).
I think that it is great that self aware when it comes to your depression, that you are able to continue on and hold on until the rough times pass, and the stillness of mind to know that they eventually will during the bad days. In fact, I commend you on it. You should hold on to that knowledge, as tightly ass you can, because when it comes to depression (as I'm sure you know), positives are rare.
I do not think that because depression can hit you with a different magnitude at any given time as you not getting better. I think what constitutes as better is how you cope during those waves. And here you are, talking through your feelings and being open to responses, something that took me years to even consider doing. You developed a method for keeping a calm mind during it all, and you have developed strategies and are able to push yourself in spite of it all. That is better. How you deal with it.
I am truly sorry that you feel isolated from the people that you want to see because of your "unsociable" working hours. Have you tried joining a weekly club or something so that you get human contact to bide time until you and your friends can catch up? Or join this club with a member of your family? Or just show up unannounced and see where that gets you?
Not entirely helpful, I know. I hope talking on here will suffice until you (or we) can hash out a solution.
Hi, my name is Joelle
Hi Blue's Clues,
Don't worry, there are always people here to talk and listen. Sometimes it may take a day or two to get a response though. I remember your display name actually 🙂
It sounds like you've had a challenging journey for these past seven years. It's great that you found the strength to end a relationship that wasn't working, and that you secured your finances. I'm glad your ex wasn't making that hard. Banks and other institutions can be really complicated unfortunately, as you've discovered. The previous university I attended for six months was like that!
As you said, it's helpful to enjoy your own company some of the time. It's great that you do have periods with only short bursts of the depression creeping in. Having bad days is really disheartening. I can relate to these days, though my bad days pertain to anxiety. Have you sought help from your doctor or another professional in the past to help with the depression? It's of great benefit to have "maintenance" sessions with a doctor (GP) or psychologist (e.g. every fortnight or month), when you can talk about your mental health and recovery. If you feel that these bad days are a problem, definitely see your doctor. Last week I went to a new psychologist. Before that (for the last few years), I had just been seeing my GP.
I am very glad you have an amazing and supportive partner now! That is fantastic! I'm sorry to hear that you aren't able to have regular contact with family and friends. When you're not physically able to see them, perhaps you could talk on the phone or communicate via face book with your closest family or a few friends.
I completely understand the need to vent. If you want to do so more regularly and without having to write to an audience, try just typing out your thoughts on a Word doc, not worrying about grammar, spelling or expression. Just type as the thoughts come, as fast or as slow as you like. I've done this before. I just delete the Word doc afterward.
I hope you continue to enjoy using this forum.
Thanks for your input, SM. It is a good community on here, if not one for super quick responses. But to be fair, the responses that do come are typically pretty thoughtful. You'll excuse the little funk I was in for a minute there, I hope. You're quite right about how disheartening the bad days are, especially knowing that so far every time I've failed to knock an episode out within a day or two, it's been immovable for at least a week after that. I'm not saying I stop trying, but at that stage it's like trying to stop a boulder rolling down a hill. It'll stop when it's at the bottom, and it will get there, but trying to stop it before that inevitably results in nasty abrasions and not a lot of alteration to its course. So while I'm fighting the good fight as always, I know exactly what I've got to look forward to.
To answer your question, I've spoken to doctors and was on antidepressants for a time. Most of my progress, however, has been through talking with my partner and my own sheer bull-headedness in knocking out various things that were actively making me miserable. Therapy would no doubt do me good, and I'm working on that. Options for the dirt poor in that area are a bit limited. Hope your new psychologist is a good fit for you, by the way. Finding one you're comfortable to open up to can be tricky.
I've occasionally done the Word document thing (though there's no such thing as me not paying attention to spelling and grammar). Unfortunately, I didn't find it satisfying. I vent to myself in various ways all the time, but when I'm really struggling the big thing for me is to be heard. A lot of my baggage revolves around years of being stuffed in a corner and not listened to no matter what I said or how I delivered it. Prior to my current relationship, no amount of clear communication or assertiveness resulted in me being understood or supported much at all, so that stuff keeps hitting me if I'm alone when I don't want to be (albeit mercifully less often these days). It's not a good place to be in.
On top of things, some elements outside of my control have been disrupting my sleeping and eating lately, which has knocked me around a lot. It's a cycle of things that are feeding each other and making it damn hard to get a handle on any of it. I'm action oriented and untangle myself from these things if I've got a direction to point in, but that's the bit I'm stuck on at the moment. Too much going wrong at once, and I don't know where to start.
Hey Blue's Clues,
It sounded from your first post that work hours are preventing the access to family and friends that you need. Is it possible to consider new work?
In your second post, when I get overwhelmed by things and don't know where to start I resort to writing them down. The method I use is the same for problems, tasks or goals. Write the problem/goal/task then write what is in your control and what is not in your control in terms of addressing/completing/reaching it then go from there.
A simple example;
Goal is to have a picnic with friends. Problem is that I work on the days they have off and vice versa. I can't control the days they have off. I can control mine by requesting a day of leave. My action is to talk with people see if they can make it then request the day off.
If you think this idea might help and want to talk through anymore let me know.
The sleep disruption plays havoc with the body says I at 3am in the morning. I hope you get some rest soon and start getting some better days. Sleep may be a good starting point too. I have some ideas from my psych if you'd like to hear and see if they work for you.
Thanks for your positive feedback. In these little slumps, it really does help when someone counters my negatives with "but hey, you're doing X, Y and Z exactly right". Even though intellectually I know my strategies will eventually win through, they feel really damn ineffective at the time and it's hard to convince my emotions that they're of much use.
Can't say I've thought of joining a club. Kinda wanted to get back to martial arts, but knew I wasn't up to making a regular commitment to stuff like that around work. It's so hard to plan around trying to get sleep, so I try and organise stuff a few days to a week in advance and hope for the best. As for being spontaneous, I did actually try that yesterday. It went brilliantly, actually, and I feel half a fraud for being all down and lonely again almost as soon as I got home. As I said in my last post, it's the momentum of the depressive episode. Once it sets in, even if I'm doing all the right things and my actions are getting positive results, it takes time to stop feeling like crap. It's so frustrating.
That said, I'm solution-oriented even at the worst of times and particularly loathe self-pity, so I spent much of last night looking for ways I could do something about what I was dealing with, in the immediate. My searching turned up a little site called 7 Cups of Tea, which I'd never heard of before. The overall feel of it is a bit hearts and flowers for me, but they do have a chat system and "listeners" floating about 24/7, so there's counsellors/professionals and also a whole bunch of people like us who aren't necessarily qualified but have a bunch of experience to draw from to talk to whenever it is needed. I spoke to one of them for a while, and having someone actually present in the moment to vent to went some way to breaking the back of the mood I was in at the time.
On a side note, I've noticed your responses to other people's posts on here as well. I appreciate your methodical and well thought out approach. I imagine you've had a pretty good impact on plenty of people here.
Believe me, I've spent a lot of time considering new work. That said, getting a new job is a pretty significant life change, and the search for work where there isn't much to be had and there's a lot of competition means high chance of a lot of knockbacks and stress before success. Considering I'm not long out of the last massive, stressful life change (the break-up with my ex), I have accepted I'm just not ready for another fight that big, just yet. Six months or a year maybe (it's in my sights), but for now I'm just trying to recover and get some strength and energy and peace of mind back before I go tackling something that overwhelming.
I have at times written things out like you suggested. Generally I have a good sense of that sort of thing nicely organised in my head and don't need to, but it's been handy occasionally, and it's sound advice to anyone with a problem to resolve. I did actually go through a similar sort of mental process to the picnic example you described, yesterday (the spontaneous thing that went brilliantly I mentioned to Joelle). Realised while at work that one of my friends there finished not that long after me, so I took the initiative and said I'd wait for her if she wanted to have a coffee together after. It was great, and I even had the energy to do a few jobs when I got home. Then the exhaustion caught up with me and concerns about getting enough sleep, and I stressed out and felt crap again, hence coming on here for more venting.
Happy to report neighbour didn't wake me up too early again like I expected (I'm a shift worker, so not much support for noisy neighbour problems during the day), so I did actually get some rest. Had only managed about six hours collectively over the last two nights and was anticipating more of the same, so I'm somewhat relieved to finally have at least one good sleep behind me. Lack of sleep has been a huge factor in my depression, and I have done a tonne of research on sleep strategies that work well without anyone actively countering them. Happy to swap ideas on that, if you like. Thanks for all your suggestions. It's pleasant to see how articulate and thoughtful so many people on here are.
Hi BC (Mind if I call you that?),
I see a lot of myself in what you say. Right down to the martial arts. I have to say, if, intellectually, you know you will get through, that it just takes time, you have won your battle. In my experience, other people, they just are so impatient with life, boxes have to be ticked based on how old they are and what they had planned, and they look at me and wonder why or how I am so lenient with plans. Like you, short periods that sometimes can be minutes. Holding on for another minute. And they get frustrated that they aren't married yet or aren't as far ahead as they thought they would be yet, but they are on their way there and they tell me, because I don't have the plans they do, that I don't know what the impatience is like. When in reality, I know how a minute can feel like an hour, I know what it's like (like you) to have to wait, to convince yourself to wait. To hold back on the "plans" because what can I manage and when? To think I don't want to be alone but can someone bear with me and be by my side. And I have to wait. If you can, if you have the patience and the knowledge that there is another side, you have won. We are here to remind you of that. And to remind you of the positives for as long as it takes.
I also know what it feels like to be lifted out of your mood when you visit a friend only to be harshly reminded of it when they have gone. And then when you mention it they say, you seemed fine earlier. So don't be too harsh on yourself for that. Like you said, time. (This seems to be a recurrent theme here...). In any case, I hope it doesn't stop you from keeping spontaneity going at least as a back up.
Ah yes, 7 cups of tea...I have used that and used to be a listener on there. The reason I didn't mention it was because the last two times I logged on, no one was available to talk to me when I wanted to reach out (a bit familiar?) It was a desperate time for me so...it seems to have made me averse to it for a bit. There are a couple of other sites with volunteer counsellors also, if I think of the names, I will let you know.
Thank you for your side note. That made me smile to think that I am of help to people, and that you appreciate my methods. I hope I can keep living up to that.
I've long since concluded that things like dream jobs and getting married are often just things people do to keep up with the Joneses, and it honestly doesn't matter when or even if they happen. Anything heavily involving other people comes without guarantees, and you're no less of a person if employers or prospective partners won't come to the party when you genuinely make an effort. But not chasing after the same ambitions as everyone else certainly doesn't mean I don't have my own goals or that I don't get unbelievably impatient and frustrated when I know I can't just bull through and accomplish them when I want to, so I completely get what you're saying about that.
I try and focus on creating and implementing the steps along the way if I can't do everything at once. I took that approach to stuff like getting out of debt and losing weight - did a boatload of research on how to get where I was going and persevered with the techniques I thought had merit. Both went swimmingly, though they did take time. I documented my progress along the way and celebrated little milestones where possible, to keep the momentum going. The only difference with recovering from depression is setbacks feel a lot bigger, even if they're not (hence I'm here and poking around other similar resources, doing my research on how to deal with that). There isn't really a quick fix if you have a big goal.
Thankfully I don't get the "you seemed fine earlier" sort of response from my friends. Most of the people close to me suffer depression or anxiety themselves, or have a pretty good familiarity with it. Great, in that they understand my troubles, less great in that we're all periodically overwhelmed or needing a time out from people, and that's another contributing factor to the scheduling problems. The spontaneity wagon is still rolling, though it's a bit hit and miss. Trying not to get too disheartened when it doesn't work out.
It did take a while to get through to anyone on 7 Cups of Tea, I admit, but it was the best result I got at the time, it did help, and was the only site I found not claiming to be free or have a free trial, then asking for credit details before you could talk to someone. That really wasn't helping my mood at the time. It may not be the best resource available, but it's one I can add to my collection.