I mean I really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY hate it.
Sorry. Sometimes you just have to get things off your chest.
It’s weird. I often think in terms of being debilitated by anxiety, and I am. I could have spent the weekend just gone elsewhere doing different things with actual, real-life people, and it was anxiety that stopped me, not depression.
(Well, specifically, it was anxiety coupled with the knowledge that my ability to manage anxiety is fairly badly compromised at the moment. And then anxiety about what the consequences of my compromised ability to manage anxiety would be. And then anxiety about what effect my anxiety about the consequences of my inability to manage my anxiety would have, given my current inability to manage my anxiety… You think that’s confusing and frustrating to read? You should try living in my head sometime.)
I guess anxiety is more concrete than depression. It’s hard not to notice when you start to feel massively nauseous at the thought of checking your email account. It’s hard not to notice the feeling of barely-suppressed panic as you wait behind the world’s slowest granny in the supermarket queue. (My therapist told me that supermarket-queue-anxiety is very common. This knowledge was apparently supposed to be helpful, for reasons that were never entirely clear to me. Did she think I’d spontaneously decide I could only have exotic anxiety – ‘My dear, I come out in a cold sweat at the merest mention of a guava…’)
Depression is about endless, repetitive, unrewarded effort, and then more of the same, but worse, and then more of the same, but duller.
On Friday night (and yes, I do realise this means that the depression I felt was likely associated with my continued presence in my flat as opposed to being at the start of a weekend adventure, but knowing where the depression has come from doesn’t make it magically disappear, despite what therapists and others may claim – )
… and breathe…
On Friday night I stood up to go and make my dinner, and I stood in the kitchen overwhelmed by the enormity of what I had to do. It’s an impossible feeling to describe, so this paragraph will have to end early.
I’m used to being depressed much of the time. But this feeling of absolute, overwhelming, desolating emptiness that arrives so suddenly is a terrible thing. It’s not really sadness, although part of it is a kind of slow grief for the chances missed, the loved ones not loved, for the person I might have been, but will never be. It’s a dry, empty, hollow feeling, resting just above the diaphragm. It’s an inability to do anything, because of the overwhelming impossibility of doing anything, and the certainty that whatever can be done isn’t worth doing in the first place.
I carried on. I thought about what I needed to do, and put the tasks in order, and did them slowly, methodically, patiently. I cooked a meal, and I ate it, and I drank a glass of squash, and I watched the tv, and I went to bed, and I read, and I slept (a little), and I got up, and – well, so on and so on. You get the picture.
This is what I do, always. Better this than being force-fed antidepressants that work mainly by placebo, and so don’t really work if you don’t believe in them. Better this than the incoherent theories of psychologists that work entirely by placebo, and so don’t work at all if you don’t believe in them.
I don’t know when I got so hostile to mental health professionals. Somewhere between being told that I was too unstable for group therapy but I couldn’t have 1-2-1 therapy, or between being threatened with involuntary depot medication and then being told by the exact same psychiatrist that the exact same symptoms at the exact same severity meant that I wasn’t mentally ill, I guess. Although, for the most part, I’m not really hostile. I think most of them are nice people who try their best, in a system that’s grossly under-funded, and despite being constantly criticised and devalued by the people they’re trying to help (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa…). But I also think they’re like people trying to stop a forest fire by spitting on a blade of grass – well-meaning, but ultimately useless, and at serious risk of getting overwhelmed themselves.
This is my life. Years of endless depression, with occasional days-long lapses into a world of bottomless despair. The endless chattering of anxiety, with occasional visits from the other stuff I don’t like to give a proper name to, for fear of giving it power over me. And all of it done with no possibility of reprieve, no light at the end of the tunnel, except for the relief that comes from jumping (temporarily) out of the fire and back into the frying pan.
I will carry on carrying on. It’s what I do, always. But there are times when I get very tired of it all.