So, yes, sorry about the lack of posts. I have managed, for the most part, to see off the paranoia but I am now, as you may have gathered from the title, feeling rather depressed.
As always when I’m depressed, I’m not wandering around complaining loudly about how miserable I feel, because, truthfully, I don’t feel that miserable. I never do. I spent a few hours on Sunday night alternately staring at a picture I took of my mum about four years ago and another of her headstone, and that certainly didn’t make me happy, but it didn’t really make me sad either. I find it hard to explain why, but I am usually drawn to look at photographs of her – specifically, these two photographs, the one connected to a simple, quiet, happy memory of her, the other to her grave – at times like this. Part of it is that I just want to feel something, anything – even the desperation of grief is preferable to the quiet blank void I feel at times like this. I try to do the same thing with music, listening to things that have evoked an emotional response in the past in the hopes that they will somehow break the dam, but they don’t.
I have a lot of what get called the somatic symptoms of depression. I have a lot of pain in my joints and, especially, my muscles – when I walk I feel myself hobbling along like an old man, but I can’t do anything about it. I am tired all the time. I am, slightly unusually, sleeping a fair bit, but waking up feeling no better, no more refreshed, no less tired. I feel exhausted to the point of dizziness when I try to stand up. I have little appetite, and what little I have I find hard to satisfy, because I have no energy to shop, or cook, or eat. I am feeling the cold, even as I sweat with the heat of the sun shining through the curtains. I have a constant headache that I cannot shift. (And yes, I know that these sound like the symptoms of some kind of physical illness, but they’re not – I’ve been here before.)
Concentration is a struggle – this post has so far taken 4 hours to write, and I’m not done yet. I am reading, but only old books I have read a thousand times before so it doesn’t matter if I only take in a fraction of what’s on the page – I know what happens anyway. I am having bad dreams and, very unusually for me, I am remembering them. One in particular, where I had a heavy mass in my abdomen; I could feel it sitting there, could swing it side to side and watch it stretch my distended skin. I knew it was a tumour – a massive, rugby-ball-sized tumour. There are real world things that explain some of this, but this feeling – that I am carrying death inside me – resonated and resonates with me in a huge way: the despair, the hopelessness, the fatalism. Well, I can’t describe it.
What is perhaps worst about this is the total loss of energy, not just physical energy, but mental energy. My little routines have all collapsed because I just don’t have the willpower; it took nearly everything I had to drag myself out of bed today, not to spend it all under the duvet like I did yesterday. I feel guilty about this, but also frustrated because I know the lack of doing things will contribute hugely to the depression – but what can I do? When it takes energy to fight the depression, and the depression has stolen has stolen all my energy, what can I do?
At least I got out of bed today. So that’s something.
I still feel the unfairness of this. I have been getting depressed in the summer for…I’m not sure how long, actually, but certainly since I started this blog – there are posts that make that clear for both of the last two summers. But this still feels wrong to me, because there always used to be a seasonal element to my moods. I would feel at my best in the autumn and the spring, worst in winter, and somewhere between the two states in the summer. That’s not true anymore, and I don’t think it’s just the case that I’m getting depressed at any time – there’s a correlation between this time of year and feeling lousy. (And that’s an argument in favour of keeping this blog, and writing about this kind of maudlin self-indulgent shit in it, right there – no way I’d have remembered that without being able to check back and see.)
I don’t know why, though, and without knowing why it’s very hard to think what to do about it. There’s nothing to do, I don’t think, except endure through it, and I am not very good at enduring, not when I don’t have some reason for believing that respite is in sight. If I can see well enough, analyse well enough, to understand what’s going on – that’s where I get my strength from. If I can’t do that – now I can’t do that – I have nothing to see me safe.
Well, that’s the depression talking. Things are almost certainly not as bad as they seem, not as desperate, nor as hopeless. I may not be able to analyse causes, but I can still analyse symptoms, and recognise them for what they are. I can recognise the physical symptoms of depression well enough to know that I do not have a physical illness, despite what it feels like; I can recognise the mental symptoms well enough to know that things are not actually hopeless, despite what it feels like.
It’s times like this I really wished antidepressants worked for me. I put up a good show of resistance to psychiatry, but in truth I’m making a virtue of a necessity. If antidepressants would make it all better – or even not all better, just a bit better, a small increment better – I would take them in a shot. But, they don’t. I realised a while back that antidepressants only work if you believe they will – and I lost that faith the moment I realised it was faith doing the work, not biochemistry.
Still, I got out of bed today, and I wrote a blog post. So, that’s two things.