This Little Light of Mine

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This weekend I bailed on every single social engagement available to me. I slept for 15 hours last night. I barely left the couch today. And yet, because I dwell in Depression Land, I wouldn’t say I’ve been feeling bad. I recently heard someone say that when you have depression, you have a “baseline sadness” that you just live with all the time, a non-alarming level of sad that is more or less a constant and feels normal for you. I really don’t want that to be true, but I think it might be.

As I wrote in my previous post, the DM stopped in for a nice noisy visit early last week and I felt like garbage. The rest of the week was better because I had a fun event on Thursday to look forward to and get ready for. But damn, did it take a lot out of me. Ever since I got out of the hospital, even a more or less typical week with a little bit of work craziness and one or two weeknight obligations, leaves me feeling completely tapped out. And I’m so over it. I’m over feeling so fragile and weird and mercurial, and I’m over not having any energy. I’m over not feeling like myself. I have times here and there that are pretty good and I feel like someone closely resembling me, but they’re fleeting. I don’t know if I have unrealistic expectations for how I should be feeling right now. I try to look at it like I was hospitalized for five days for some other kind of ailment; would I expect to be feeling 100% better 100% of the time three weeks later? Probably not. Not to mention the hard truth that I don’t have the kind of sickness that you get, and you feel bad, and then a doctor fixes you, and then you’re better and go on your merry way. I don’t think there’s such a thing as “100% better” for me. So I really don’t know where that leaves me. I don’t know what’s next. The psychiatrist I saw in the hospital cranked up one of my medications and that proved to be a terrible mistake that left me sick with panic and paranoid delusions that everyone around me wanted to hurt me. My regular psychiatrist fixed that, so now I’m back on the same meds at the same levels that I’ve been on for months. Not sure what I think about that, because these same meds at these same levels allowed a complete suicidal breakdown. But at the same time, having that meltdown taught me the importance of closely monitoring and tracking how I’m doing, because when I look back at my social media activity over the course of the last few months, I can see myself falling apart in slow motion. At the time, I didn’t see it. My therapist and I have discussed ad nauseum that the tricky thing is that when I feel bad, it’s like all I can remember are the other times I’ve felt bad, but then when I feel better, I block out those dark moments and forget they happened. So I recently got an app called iMoodJournal to track my mood. Three times a day, it chirps and asks me to log how I feel using a 10-level scale ranging from “amazing” to “couldn’t be worse.” And if I want to, I can add a little note so that later I can look back and know why I felt that way. Then the app aggregates the data and spits out these really cool charts and graphs that help me notice patterns over time. It’s proven helpful already, because at the end of last week I thought, “Hey, you know, I felt pretty awesome all week this week. Rad.” And then I looked at the app and saw that on Tuesday evening, I logged my mood as a 4 (i.e., I felt terrible). In fact, my mood all day had been lower than average. And I truly had forgotten that entire day of feeling low because later in the week I felt so much better. Tricksy hobbitses.

Anyway, I’m rambling. I feel bummed that every Sunday night I sit down at my coffee table with my pill bottles and medication organizer and divide up my doses for the week. Two capsules and three tablets every morning, come hell or high water. I feel bummed when I look back at my weekend and realized that I only left the house for therapy on Saturday and the rest of the time, I was in bed or on the couch. I feel a sense of dread that every day carries the potential to be absolutely miserable or absolutely fine, or a nauseating rollercoaster between the two. But I also sit here now, at bedtime on Sunday night, and find myself looking ever-so-slightly forward to the week and beginning to settle in to my new position at work. And maybe I’ll feel more stable this week now that training is over and I had a restful weekend. Somehow, that dread and mild optimism manage to occupy the same headspace. And I guess that gives me a little bit of hope. The DM makes me dread everything, look forward to nothing, turn a blind eye to anything positive. But Minerva’s still in here too, and she’s a pollyanna who believes things will always get better and work out for the best, because why wouldn’t they? And as sweet as she might be, she doesn’t go down without a fight, either. I can hear her, more muffled than usual but definitely there, and she’s not about to let the DM bogart the mic. If you’ll forgive me switching metaphors midstream here, she’s like the tiny glow of a Bic lighter in the Great Big Dark. And as I sit here, I’m realizing that maybe I have more reason to feel encouraged about than I originally thought. That little light was pretty much out for a while there, but it’s definitely back. Small, but still mighty.

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