So. Hi. I’ve been gone for a bit. Some of that was because I got a fellowship, and then a job, and was doing more freelance writing. And in the last few months, it’s been because some pretty heavy stuff has been going down in my personal life that has made blogging and in fact all writing outside of my day job take a backseat.
The last month has probably been the most difficult. It’s been…bad. Easily the worst depression and anxiety spiral I’ve experienced in years. I kind of disappeared for a few weeks and didn’t really see or talk to anyone outside of work and home. At home, I basically alternated between hysterics…
And feeling totally numb.
I think–I hope–I am starting to emerge from the haze of all that.
The thing about depression is it’s hard, at least for me, to explain what it feels like. What it actually does. And I think part of that is a misconception of mental illness as being literally that—as in, all in your mind—rather than a whole mental, physical, and emotional gauntlet of misery.
How it goes, at least if you’re me:
First off, there’s the sleep situation. Some days, you do almost nothing but sleep:
Or you might stay up for most of the night, whether in the futile hope that you might actually accomplish something, or because you’ve tumbled headfirst into some random internet rabbit hole.
Either way, your sleep is fucked.
You lose all interest in, oh, pretty much everything.
You start getting a bit…lax about cleanliness.
Your new best friend is crushing despair.
Basically your feelings go completely haywire.
And as if that’s not fun enough, there’s the weird time-distortion effect, where ten minutes feels like an hour and each day seems to go on f-o-r-e-v-e-r. This is great, because it allows you to experience every wretched moment in excruciating detail.
You don’t want to see anyone. You’d rather not have to get out of bed at all, much less venture outside.
When you do think about seeing your friends, you immediately veto it because you’re afraid you’ll be a downer and things will end poorly:
You don’t really feel like telling people what’s going on, so you might get a bit…creative.
Problem: when all you want is a dark, cozy place where no one will bother you again ever, you still have to, like, work and stuff. And work goes about as well you’d expect when you have no energy, focus, or self-confidence.
For one thing, motivation is basically nonexistent.
When you do muster up enough give-a-damn to work, your brain refuses to cooperate:
You put off work and then you feel more anxious about work, which makes it harder to work, but you can’t even enjoy the time you’re not working because you’re desperately anxious about the work you’re not doing, then you have less time to work…
The things you’re supposed to be doing pile up and the folks who need you to do those things start wondering what the fuck is going on:
You think everyone thinks of you like this:
You get pretty down on yourself. Your mental soundtrack is an endless loop of you being incredibly mean to yourself.
You wonder what is wrong with you. It shouldn’t be that hard to regular things that people do every day, right?
But that’s not how depression works.
In short, your life is kind of a disaster.
Eventually things get so bad that you realize that maybe you need some extra help. Perhaps professional grade.
You get help. You tell friends what’s going on. You try taking it easy on yourself. You start to feel a little better.
After a while, you begin to feel like maybe you can start venturing out again.
What matters is taking that first step. And then the next. And the one after that. For the first time in what feels like ages, you’re hopeful that better will come.
That’s about the sum of it. It’s not pretty. I’d say I’m at about the slowly venturing out stage. But I have family and friends looking out for me, and access to quality mental health care (which, frankly, should be considered a basic right).
So things are looking…better. Bit by bit. As for the depression and anxiety, well: