If you know me, you’ll know that by and large, I’m not noted for my reckless behaviour. I can see the point in rule following, I think manners are vastly underrated and it’s my greatest wish that ‘being nice’ wasn’t hurled at people as some sort of insult. So trying to, in effect, set fire to my own life – as in metaphorically torch it to the ground and walk away – was probably the clue that all was not well in my head. I probably haven’t been well for a couple of months, but it was that incident which made me realise that I needed to seek help, because finally, the difficulties were starting to become publicly noticeable.
Out of character behaviour is one thing, but there was far more going on and I wasn’t joining the dots. It’s no good using low self-esteem as a yardstick to measure whether I’m depressed, because I have it permanently. I’m never going to suffer from the delusion that I am the most brilliant person on the planet. However, it’s been worse than usual. Couple that with being tearful, irritable and not my usual positive self and you’ve got the beginnings of a picture emerging. I’ve been having difficulty sleeping and difficulty getting out of bed. Me, being in bed past 6.30am on any given morning is almost unheard of, but it’s been happening regularly. The thing I love to do the most of all (writing) has been lying untouched. My eating is chaotic, I’ve been making excuses not to see friends and I can’t raise interest to do anything. But masking all that was absolutely crippling anxiety and of course, its sidekick, an inability to make decisions for fear of ‘getting it wrong.’
That’s what I thought I was dealing with – straightforward anxiety and I didn’t clue in to all the other stuff going on. It wasn’t until Googled anxiety and one article listed it with the symptoms of depression – and I pretty much ticked all the boxes, that I realised that I might have another problem on my hands.
Strangely, it was instant relief . I’m depressed? Oh thank goodness! Seriously, I said that. Depression doesn’t worry me. I’ve had it before, I’ve conquered it twice and it’s absolutely no surprise that I’m feeling like this, given how hard I have pushed myself for nearly 18 months.
Now that I’ve been to the Doctors, had a proper diagnosis and got some medication, I’ve been looking back, trying to pinpoint why I didn’t spot it earlier. I think I’ve found a clue buried in the everyday of early September, when there was a seemingly insignificant change in my routine.
Anyone looking at my life when I’m good and healthy will find order. I like lists, I like plans, I like appointments and organisation in general. I am methodical and habitual because I like to know that I have everything covered. My week is not an acre of free time and so I have carved out a ‘shopping slot.’ I make a menu plan and list in my book (yes, I have a book for it), and I go shopping every Tuesday afternoon to get everything I need for the week. I do it all in one hit and don’t darken the doors of the supermarket again until the following week. I usually try and work at the meal planning a bit, trying to get lots of variety. But now, looking back, there was a subtle change in early September where things clearly took a nose-drive and my menus narrowed into about 7 or 8 things that we’ve been eating over and over for the last few weeks.* Essentially, I gave up trying to even think about what to eat and it’s come down to what sauce can I put with this particular meat or pasta. I haven’t bought a proper selection of vegetables for well over a month, so there’s the evidence that I’ve been pretty much doing life on autopilot and that I’ve not been myself since the start of September. But we think these things will pass, we think a good night’s sleep will cure it. Or, like me, you think it’s just temporary because you’re a bit anxious about something.
I’m really looking forward to having myself back once the medication starts to work and addressing the fears that have contributed to this happening. You will not believe the absolute pickle I can get myself into when I get anxious over things and people. If it’s possible, I want to be the most positive depressed person you can meet, because I know that there are a battery of tools available and lots more help around than there was ten years ago when I last suffered from this. I know what’s caused it (overwork). I know what feeds it (fear) and I know, even thought I do have a hard time convincing myself of it, that I am not the worst person on the planet.
I look forward to the day when I’m buying vegetables again.
* No, my husband and daughter haven’t noticed. *eye roll*