Friday, June 17, 2016

It's my writing challenge and I can change the rules if I want!

And so I did. I'm starting today rather than yesterday.

I've gotten a few suggestions from people which are fun. But I'm going to start by telling you about my mental health right now.

Many people who know me know that I deal with a pretty big depressive episode every summer and I'm well into it now.

It starts with a bang one day sometime in May usually, though this year my first indication was a couple of weeks early in April. And then the couple of bad days go and I'm better, but not as bright as I was before the bad days. I get two more really bad drops which usually last a week or two and when I recover from those I'm never as up as I was before that bout.

And then someone turns off the tap of depression and one day between September 3rd and 7th I wake up feeling fantastic and happy and like the world is in colour and I'm excited for everything coming. Just like that. Like a snap of the fingers and I'm a completely different person.

It's really kind of amazing actually.

Right now I'm 5 days into my first really bad week of the season. It starts with being irritable and not having patience with people, and becomes gut wrenching anxiety which leads to not being able to eat much because my throat just closes when I put food in my mouth and it hurts to swallow anything but liquids.

And I can spend hours sitting, staring at nothing, thinking nothing. Keeping focused on anything, to read, to speak, to write, to listen, feels like so much work.

Until yesterday I had taken a nap every day this week, not because I was tired but because I just couldn't bear to be awake anymore. Hours of this feeling is awful. If I'm asleep at least I won't feel this weight.

I feel so unlike myself when this happens.

Just the day before I woke up in a bad way I was with friends, enjoying the weather and music and food and company. And I'm so glad this episode started the day after that because I would have had such a different experience on that day.

I think about the moments when I was enjoying being where I was on Sunday, savouring the good things and I know how I would have felt having the exact same experience the next day.

Instead of savouring the good things I would have recognized how great the experience was and be sad that it would be over soon. It's such a tiny difference in attitude between enjoying a moment and being sad that a moment is passing, but for me it's like being two completely different people. And this week I woke up as the person who is always sad that every great moment is constantly passing.

I believe strongly in the value of a gratitude journal, and over the summer, when I'm at my lowest, my gratitude journal is my most important tool. It keeps me more grounded in time and reality. Right now, I am grateful for my shady backyard to work in. And I'm trying not to be sad that this afternoon is slipping away and I'm moving further away from myself.

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