Saturday, 1 March 2014

Feeling SAD

This morning, the only thing that got me round ParkRun was the fact that Sarah deserved cake. 
The only way she would legitimately let me buy it was if she got me a PB. 
I had to keep going despite the fact that I would rather be hiding under the duvet.  
I found it increasingly difficult to push myself – my body and me aren’t having the best relationship at the moment – they aren’t on the same page.

I say go on, my body says ‘Meh. Make me’
I say ‘ah, ok then, we won’t’  

Main thing is, I was up.
I was in the outside.
I had air in my lungs.  Just. (Gasping counts, right?)  
The sun was shining.
The crocuses were out.
The daffs are making an appearance soon.  

Spring is trying its bestest to arrive. 
It really is.  I can see the effort its making and I really do appreciate it.

I just wish I could feel it.
Its coming though.
The gloom is starting to lift.

Ever so slowly.

Well, sometimes.
Other times, not so much.  

For too long I have felt like I have been wearing a rucksack, filled with bricks, sadness and my soul.  The twinkle in my eye has been removed and stuffed at the bottom under all the junk. I have carried the rainclouds.
I have been forced to carry this heavy bag throughout the winter…. And frankly, it has made me too tired. 

I have trained as best I can while wearing it.
The bag contains a voice which tells me I am a failure, that I am a fraud, that I should stop, that I have no right to swim in the ‘extra fast lane’ as I have lost my speed, that I shouldn’t be training for an ironman as I will only give up when it gets too hard, that I won’t reach my goals and if I do, somebody will be faster anyway.
The voice is relentless.
It makes me want to sleep.
I want to sleep ALL. THE. TIME.

It has caused me to sleep.  Sleeping and lack of motivation has caused me to let people down.

I am not making excuses.
I could have been stronger and made more effort.
I just didn’t have the energy or the will to fight.
Sleeping was easier. 

Depression does funny things to your brain.
It makes the electrical activity stop.

It does stupid stuff to the brain and affects EVERYTHING.

I have eaten the world in an attempt to feel full and happy (I now feel fat and miserable)
I have plonked myself in front of my light box for hours on end (and been on the sunbed).
I have eaten green leafy veg, taken vitamin D, eaten oily fish and eggs. 
I have exercised.
I have been in the outside.
I have wept for no reason other than my eyes wanted to leak.

I have been with people.
Well, sometimes.
When I have felt it has been safe for me to be with people. When I have let myself and forced myself.

I am scared that this winter and my actions have caused me to lose a very dear friend – simply because I haven’t been available, emotionally or in person.
I have been more than a bit shit.
I was lovingly taken to one side and asked what was going on.

How the hell do you justify it?
It is ‘just’ depression.
It ‘just’ is.

I was told that I wasn’t myself. 
That when they looked at me, my eyes were vacant and had lost their sparkle (its in the bottom of my heavy rucksack). There was nothing left of who I was, the Rach they know and love had gone off somewhere.  There was just a void and a shell remaining.
That sounds a bit dramatic, but is the essence of the conversation.
It made my eyes leak and still does.

I don’t want to be sad.
I don’t want to miss my friends.
I certainly don’t want to find that they have grown away while I am sucked into a void each year.

This is my normality in winter and I think I have done an ok job of hanging on for dear life this time….. don’t get me wrong, it has been as hard and horrid, but it is possibly one of my best years for a LONG time.
I have had to deal with my mother being in intensive care and everything that threw up for me and my demons around this.
I left a job I loved, went backwards in one role and sidewards to another world in another role.
I didn’t belong anywhere.  

The nature of the beast that was hospital visiting and dysfunctional families combined with the way my working world was turned on its head meant that, as the winter gloom hit full force, I was bumbling through the chaos with no structure….. no structure meant limited access to my support network.
This then meant that I became isolated and the SAD took hold, as things ‘settled’ and those things which had been thrown into the air started to land, I found that my soul had gone off somewhere safe for the winter. 

I couldn’t come back.
I couldn’t feel.
I was too sad.
It was too big a feeling to cope with…. So in my usual way of coping with big feelings, I disconnected from myself.

My childhood taught me to do this to survive. My teenage years reinforced this.  My adult years have proven it as an excellent method.

When fight or flight isn’t an option.

It’s a fail safe plan.
One of which I seem to have no control over.
It does it all by itself.
Possibly when my serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels hit a certain point.

Disconnecting means I get through the winter relatively unscathed.
I am ready to feel again now though. 
I have known throughout the winter when I have had good days. 
I can ‘think’ when I am happy, rather than feel it.

So now as spring approaches, I know that there is a bounce.  The gloom isn’t as thick.
I am ready to put the backpack down and start living without the burden that is.

Too many people suffer from mental illness – not enough people talk about it.

It’s real.
It’s not a choice.
If I could get rid of it, it’s more than very likely I would in a nanosecond, if not quicker.

But, that said, it has taught me lots of things over the years and I have learned to understand it and accept it as part of who I am.
I know that I am strong, I am a survivor.

I have learned to love my black dog in a strange way. 

If you know someone who suffers from depression..... just love them.... in all the ways you know how.
and let them know.  Poke them, but not too hard. 
Just don't stop loving them.  
Faulty chemicals aren't a choice.... and they are more common than you think.