Monday, October 28, 2013

Thoughts on Depression, Part II, one year later

Oh, how I hate this depression thing.  See when it was just a little bit, and I could jump back into life after a few days or weeks, I could pretend.  Now that I took the plunge and sought treatment, I'm labeled.  Every time I have a down time, I worry.  "Is it overcoming me again?  Is this just a little funk, or is it the Big Darkenss?  The Abyss.  The Nothingness."

Isn't that a charming way to start a post?  I've been really struggling lately.  Struggling with energy.  I could sleep all day long.  Most days even just standing and putting one foot in front of the other requires supreme effort.

I wrote last fall about the image of withdrawls and deposits I associate with this whole depression thing.  If I  have too many withdrawals in too short a time, or if the withdrawals are only few but big, I need to take time to slow down and refuel.  And with this depression thing, the positive balance slips away more quickly, and replenishes more slowly than it ought.  That's the primary lingering symptom which I still notice.  Or perhaps it's simply the effects of aging, and I'll always have this difficulty.  Who knows?

Either way, it makes me mad.  And sometimes scared.

I have been reminded lately of the Impatient Pot about which I wrote last winter.

I was disappointed last spring that I was not able to go off prozac.  I really, really don't want this to be a lifelong need.  I remember when I first started taking  medication for depression.  I was frustrated that I'd have to be on meds for a whole year.  An entire year of having to add this artificial chemical to my body to help my brain work right.  Or to screw it up.  Who really knows, right?

But when spring came this year, I was still seeing progress being made and and healing coming together.  I didn't want to risk a plateau in that progress and healing, when I still had what felt like miles to go to be well.  And I think that was the right choice.

I had a great summer.  Not 'great' in the sense of having many wonderful times.  Although there were definitely some of those, too.   But 'great' in the sense of catching up.  Making progress.  It was a very, very busy summer.  But throughout all the changes, and running, and obligations, I made progress.  Rather than getting knocked about, being pummeled by all the busy-ness, I moved forward.  I had fewer down days.  The many withdrawals of the busy times, physical labors, and mental overload didn't lay me flat.  I was able to move forward, catching up little by little, on the years' worth of behind-ness that defines my homemaking.

But now it's fall again.  I'm in a funk.  I feel the emotional drain.  Too many withdrawals.  So I rest.  And I try to find ways to refuel.  But the refueling is too slow.  And sometimes, too hard.

I haven't yet felt the darkness and nothingness of a full-blown depression closing over me again.  I'm not yet to the I-can't-remember-what-it-feels-like-to-be-alive state.  But I confess I've been a little bit worried.  A little nervous that it's coming.

Then I remind myself that I felt exactly like this a year ago.

I make myself notice the little things.  Even amidst the low energy days, there's good news.

For one, notice the the date on that fall post I linked above.  The one that talks about the funk I was in last fall.  It was written in mid September.  I made it a month longer this fall before that feeling took over.  I bounced back last fall, and likely I will this fall, too.

I talked to Joe about my symptoms the other day, and the fear I sometimes feel over them.  "Should I call Dr. Winjum and ask him up to my dose?  Has it come to that?"

Then I roll my eyes.  Here's the lady who used to prefer everything the hard way.  "Wallow through it.  God's teaching you something while you're low.  Rely on Him, not on meds."  And now I simply want to take a higher dose just to feel better.  I feel kind of like a junky. 

But I think, just getting the possibility of further medical intervention out on the table helped.  Joe knows I've been struggling.  He knows the dirty laundry is piling up and the dishes are not always finished.  The floors are not swept.  And very often, he has to cook.

Ugh!  Just putting it in writing makes me feel so bad.  "Exactly what have you been doing, Miss Mary?  Doesn't sound like a whole heck-of-a-lot."  And it's true.  It's bad when getting dressed feels like a great feat.  Or putting some left-overs in the oven for supper is almost more than I can manage.

To answer the above question, "I've been sleeping.  And crocheting.  And reading."

About one day in five, I can manage to accomplish something.  But when there are ten mess-makers in the houseten people dirtying clothes and dishes and floorsone day in five is simply not enough.  And so my family suffers.

"Where's a towel, Mom?  Are there any clean towels around here?"

"Are we having rice and beans for supper again?"

"Did this dish washer run or not?  The dishes look dirty."

And so on.

But I try to hold on to the little things.  There are good things, too, if I can remember to notice them.

We've managed to get all the way through a read-aloud already this fall.  In the few evenings we are organized enough to have the bedtime-and-prepare-for-the-next-morning routine done early enough, we've read Marguerite de Angeli's The Door in the Wall.  It's not a long book, but I chose it that way so that we could actually finish it.  I think we'll do A Cricket in Times Square next.  Or maybe Riding the Pony Express.  Or Twenty-One Balloons.  Something that the littles will be able to get into.  That way there's motivation for them to get their evening responsibilities accomplished in a timely manner.

And even this evening routine.  That's progress, too.  This is the first time since my kids started in public school four years ago, that I have energy enough left before bedtime to make sure they're prepared for the morning.  "Homework, backpack, coat, shoes, school clothes.  Jammies on, dirty clothes down the chute, teeth brushed."  If they get done soon enough, we get to read.  If not, it's devotion and bed.  But simply to have the routine in place is so much better.  And it's real tangible progress.

I have two kids home for school this year.  Again, that's progress.  Clara and Sophie never wanted to go to school.  But I didn't give them  a choice.  I couldn't.  Now I feel like I've come far enough that I am able to give them that choice.  Progress.

But there have been so many withdrawals lately.

The days are shortening.  The landscape is undergoing it's seasonal fade.  I have fewer reasons to be outside.

Many, many transitions in the last several months.

And more immediately, we took a big trip.  We came home and jumped into school.  That whole vanload of stuff needs to be cleaned up, organized and put away.  Yes, I know, it's been over a month.  Almost two months, in fact.  But imagine having time to air out, or launder and re-roll ten sleeping bags, car pillows, and two tents.  Haul and stack six or eight camping chairs.  A camp stove.  Two coolers.  Wash and re-pack all the camping dishes and cookware.  And so on.  It's a huge job when we're talking about our family.  And with them in school, and involved in various outside the home things, there's not many hours for them to help.  It's mostly done, but not quite.  I still have three bins of bedding stuff to label and a few odds and ends to repack.  Then to carry those last three bins and our big camping supply tote down to the other garage.  Probably only about a 1/2 hour job, but still, ...

The neighbors' garden produce came pouring in.  (Thankyou, thankyou to Joe for being mostly the one to get it preserved for winter use.)  Joe put up many, many jars of tomato sauce and salsa and apple sauce and chutney. 

The kids have been sick.

The washer was broken for several weeks.

Winter coats to dig out.

So many withdrawals.

A few days ago, I was scared.  Scared I was slipping.  Slipping into the fog.

Over the weekend, it was better.  I had a good day Saturday.  And so I feel as though a deposit was made.  Yesterday I had a more positive perspective.  This is just a tide I have to ride.

But today I'm low again.  I just want to crawl back into bed and let the house fall down around me.

I hate that my family has to ride this roller coaster with me. 

Joe, kids, I am so sorry we are going through this.  I love you all.  And I pray for healing.

I rest in the assurance of Jesus' righteousness, cleansing me for all the ways I'm failing you right now.  There's no despair here, since I know in the long run, it's all good, good, good.

But I also know that I am daily letting you down in so many ways.

Just hang on.  Through the storms of life, hang on.  God will never leave us nor forsake us.  Rest in Him.

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