The more aware I become of my moods, my mild dips into and out of both depression and mania, the more I realize how absurd my life was before my diagnosis.
Wow. Just wow.
I’m only now realizing, with assurance from a supportive, affirming therapist, how resilient I am. That I am, as cheesy as it sounds, a Survivor. I went through so many years and into the worst year of my life, un-medicated, unaware. There were so many horrible things I could have done to hurt myself, vices or addictions I could have picked up, relationships I could have utterly destroyed. But, for the most part, I didn’t.
I plugged away until I couldn’t ignore and hide the moods, the pain, the highs, the crazy, the demons, the brain chemicals; I couldn’t ignore myself anymore.
If you’re an acquaintance or even my family or close friends, it may look like nothing to you. Maybe you see me at church or a party and think to yourself how fine Lauren seems? Maybe you look back on the years we’ve spent together or look at my life now and think to yourself how okay Lauren seems? Maybe the diagnosis isn’t accurate? Maybe Lauren’s hyperbolizing? (Maybe Lauren’s projecting now?)
Before my diagnosis, it was my full time job to put on a good display of A-OK-ness. And I still do it. Auntie Ninang Katherine visited recently and I’d say we had a good visit—I mean, she brought me goat milk caramels. What more could I ask for? Besides an actual goat. But, for a few days before her visit I had an inkling that I was in a “funk.” I tried to put it on pause for Easter and her visit, but when she left I let the mood take over again.
Over the past couple weeks, through and after a visit to my Grandmother, I’ve been in and out of this funk, flatness, depression.
As I’ve shared before, my brand of depression doesn’t delve into deep despair, with the exception of my psychological break a year ago. I feel flat, numb, distant, disconnected, unmotivated and tired, exhausted, even after ten hours of sleep.
It’s taken all of my whispy strands of motivation to wake up at a decent hour; to take care of my Dearest Daughters instead of letting them watch PBS all morning while I languish in bed. I’ve made myself go on runs and do a chore here and there. I’ve tried to fight the cold and distance I put up, like a wall, towards your father, you and general humanity. But, all I truly feel like doing is getting back into bed.
Now that I would generally describe myself as “Better”—the persistent, daily, hourly anxiety and panic have subsided, I can travel here and there, I can take care of my family, I am functional—I can work myself into a bit of denial about my moods. I’m back into the habit of putting on my Okay Face. Because the meds have worked, I’m in therapy, I have coping mechanisms to rely on—God damn it—I’m supposed to Better. I’m supposed to be equipped, able to handle ALL THIS. THIS shouldn’t happen anymore. Yet, the moods still come and go. The Crazy takes over, The Doing. Then, the Darkenss, the Blues and Grays take their turns.
But, some days, some weeks, I’m not Okay. It’s what I tell people, because it’s what they want to hear. When someone asks how you are, they don’t really want to hear the sad truth of it. In fact, I don’t want to hear the sad truth of it.
I want to talk about our new baby chicks or the weather or my new favorite reality show (Preacher’s Daughters on Lifetime). I want to feel normal. I want to feel Fine.
But, you guys, I don’t. I don’t always feel Fine.
And I’m learning that it’s okay. That feeling Less-Than-Happy is okay in and of itself. It’s part of who I am, my story, my lot in life. Something I will always have to deal with, work around, walk through.
(This, of course, doesn’t mean that I should ignore my mood fluctuations or stop taking my medicine. This doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t ask for help when I need it or when I need more of it.)
On Facebook I re-posted a list of 21 ways to not self sabotage yourself when you have depression. And a Dearest Reader summarized the articles sentiment well in a Facebook comment recently: “you can live a meaningful and worthwhile life with depression. That is such a more realistic goal to have then the theory that depressed people just need to get over it or snap out of it.”
I’ll see my psychiatrist in a few days for my regular appointment and we’ll see what she can do for my current brain chemistry.
In the meantime, I try to think positively, to maintain mindfulness, to congratulate myself for my small victories (like making pancakes this morning and at least considering changing out of my pajamas), to not let the self-deprecating thoughts of my worthlessness or obsolescence take over, to instead recognize happiness when it peeks out its little head in a giggle or a hug or Danjo’s funny “underpants” jokes, to grasp love and light and sit in its warmth for as long as possible.
Love you no matter what,
With my commitment to taking care of myself and my mental health--in addition to (or in conjunction with!) taking care of my family--I'm not able to post here as regularly as I would like or as much as I did in the past.
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