When hope comes apart at the seams

More whining I’m afraid.  Feel free to go and organise your airing cupboard/ file your bills for the last decade in alphabetical then chronological order/ construct imaginative fantasies about the secret sex-life of the fluff down the back of your sofa instead of reading this.  (Yeah, like you needed my permission…)

Probably the thing I find most difficult of all to deal with in terms of mentalism is when I get a sudden and steep decline in my mood.  I call it crashing, although I’m not sure if that’s an unnecessarily dramatic word.  I don’t want you to get the impression that I’ve been toddling along as the perfect picture of happiness these last few days, but things have been really not that bad.  I’ve been in a fairly low mood for about 25 days now, but I put an action plan in place, and although I’ve slipped-up with every single point in it, I have managed to keep the general principle going, and that’s proved reasonably helpful.  The appointment with General Psychiatrist knocked me for six, (mainly due to my unreasonable expectations, I’ve decided, although I do still think some of his actions and words weren’t as helpful as they might have been) but I seemed even to bounce most of the way back from that.

Yesterday afternoon I was feeling reasonably good.  I was out for a walk, muffled up against the cold, and even making idle plans.  Specifically, I was wondering if I might email, or even – shock! horror! – text one of my friends who lives nearby and see if he wanted to meet up to go to and watch the local big firework display on Nov 5th.  The fact I was thinking like this was a definitely good sign, because being in the middle of a large crowd, and close to high explosives, is not exactly the most relaxing activity I could think of.  And it was also good, of course, that I felt able to face the idea of meeting up with a friend for the first time in… well… pretty much forever, without feeling like it was too much effort, or far too stressful.

And then my mood crashed in what must, literally, have been less than a couple of minutes.  I went from walking briskly and looking around – I saw a fox trotting along some waste ground, slightly unusual to see a fox up and active during the day, I thought – to stumbling along the road.  I felt my face freeze, so that it became like a thick, rubber mask on the front of my head.  Every particle of energy I seemed to have had just minutes before deserted me, and I had to drag myself back home, with a pounding headache, and shooting pains in my legs.  Every time someone passed me in the street I was convinced they were going to turn round and attack me from behind.  I braced myself for a baseball bat crashing into the base of my neck over and over and over again.

Things haven’t really improved over night.  I was – and am – incredibly tired, but I can’t sleep.  I look round at my flat, and I see the dust on all the surfaces, and the fluff building up on all the carpets, and the crisp bags and chocolate wrappers lying where they fell, and I am so ashamed of myself for living like this.  This morning I looked back at my post about going for a walk, and I don’t know how I did it.  Not just how I found the energy to travel, and not just how I found the energy to sort through my photos, and upload them, and get them working in the right order.  But how I managed, for those few hours, to be managing my feelings, not being managed by them.

I just put myself through the Beck Questionnaire again, and my score has increased from the 45 it was back on the 9th October to 55, eight points shy of the maximum.  (I didn’t test myself, but I would guess it’s been lower than 45 for some of the time in between.)  Are things reaching the point where I need to ask for help?  (Rhetorical question, btw.)  Well, yes they are heading in that direction but I don’t think I’m there yet.  I want to say I’ll leave it a couple of days, but 2 days takes me to Friday, and that means the weekend gets in the way, so leaving it a couple of days translates to leaving it the best part of a week.  But if I make the appointment now that’s less than 24 hours of feeling this way.  If I went mewling for help every time I had a lousy 24 hours I’d never be out of the damn surgery.  It’s not even as though my GP will be able to do anything to help, except be kind and encouraging.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to write about, since writing about it won’t actually help in any way.  What I wanted to write about is how difficult I find it to cope with these sudden nosedives in mood.  They give me no time to assemble my defences.  That maybe sounds daft, but with a gradual drift down, which I also experience, I know there are going to be some pretty horrible times coming and I can psychologically prepare myself for them.  With this, when I feel like I’ve fallen over an emotional cliff, there’s no time to do that.  It’s very hard to describe how horrible it is to one minute be feeling pretty normal, and the next to be wishing you were dead.  It’s very hard to imagine, when it hasn’t just happened, how it’s even possible for it to work like that.  Surely something has to change, there has to be some reason to move from happy to sad?

Maybe not.

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6 Responses to When hope comes apart at the seams

  1. Jennifer says:

    Is there any element or influence that you can think of that might have preceded your crash? Something you ate, heard, thought, etc.? Sometimes I find myself feeling really anxious and realize that I shouldn’t have had that second cup of coffee. Or I get depressed and realize that my sleep schedule was disturbed, or I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw how fat I am. Sometimes there are things you can control.

    Just an idea. But then I’m always looking for reasons. Not sure there are any.

  2. Cellar_Door says:

    I always think that the brain is such an enormously complicated piece of machinery, its actually pretty amazing that it works well for any period of time at all…there’s so much that can go wrong, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when it fucks up :0) It’s like keeping a million plates spinning at once…some of them are guaranteed to fall off at some point…

    Cellar_Doors patented, completely non-evidence based approach to mental health :0)

    Hugs x

  3. Alex says:

    I know the feeling, and often I can’t trace it back to any specific thing that would have lowered my mood. I find it’s just a matter of waiting it out, preferably with a large amount of junk food. Take care.
    (The pedant in me wants to point out that fireworks are low explosives, but ignore him ;))

  4. Mandy says:

    Hi there

    I haven’t got any well thought out (or even thinking off the top of my head) theories that might be of use.

    Wrote lots of rambly stuff which I have deleted cos most of us with mental illness have come at it from different angles and wouldn’t be writing any thing new.

    I do understand that feeling of either being in the thick of something (which I was okay about) and suddenly panicking for no obvious reason or my mood shifting and wondering why. Can relate to Cellar Door’s non evidence based approach. The brain is a complex piece of kit (add in external factors and it’s a case of ‘best laid plans of mice and men’ going legs akimbo. :>)

  5. mortjo says:

    It’s often the inexplicable nature of sudden depressive moods that piss me off the most I think. I’m pretty well versed in dealing with my depressive episodes now, they generally mean me sitting in my room, some Pink Floyd, plenty of water, lots and lots of thinking and procrasitnating on the internet, until I can muster the will to eat sleep and clean myself.
    But when I’m busy pottering about doing ‘stuff’ and being quite chirpy one moment, and then in an instant full of gloom, well then that becomes the focus of my susbsequent endless mind racing. Why? Why me and why now? Dammit.

    I was given that Beck Questionnaire by my therapist as homework this week. Not encountered it before, not even looked at it yet, but it does feel slightly pointless, we established I was a moody sod many years ago.

  6. Zoe says:

    My heart goes out to you Aethelread. I absolutely and totally empathise with what you say about sudden mood shifts, and actually I would and do call them ‘crashes’ because that is exactly how they feel.

    Nowadays I am faintly uneasy when my mood continues good for any length of time. It’s as if I know there is always ‘payback time’. It is indeed akin to drawing money out of the bank. There’s only so much ‘good mood’ time a person can have, in the same way that when drawing on a limited pool of resources, ie a bank account, a time will likely come when you are in deficit.

    Except of course that there is apparently little or no element of choice. You can choose to budget and stay within your means with a bank account. With moods it seems, damn it, that what goes up must come down. That’s where my little analogy breaks down!

    We have a mood disorder, A. It’s known as an illness for good reason. I have always been the first to take responsibility for my health and sure, we need to watch our diet, exercise, limit caffeine and so on. In my experience the mood shifts can occur out of a clear blue sky and often do! Sometimes there are obvious stressors. Sometimes not. And undoubtedly a downward swing is one of the most frustrating and even devastating parts of having a mood disorder.

    By the time you get round to reading this I sincerely hope you are feeling better. Even if there’s little one can do to help a fellow sufferer, know at least that you are very far from alone.

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