I am using endorphins to regulate my mental health.
I said it.
I feel like I am at the beginning of an episode of depression.
I can feel it.
Waiting to pounce.
I am balanced on a knife edge, in fact, no, worse than that, I am balanced on the tip of the blade.
In all the directions.
It could all go horribly wrong at a moments notice. Or maybe even without notice.
Into the abyss.
Currently, because I know I might fall, I am furiously packing.
Preparing things that might help.
Rope ladders, pick axes, safety nets n the like.
I am setting goals n entering races.
I am making plans with people, which I will invariably cancel when I am in the abyss.
Mainly because, deep dark hole n inability (lack of energy) to climb out of it.
Mainly because I will be in bed.
Or in tears.
I am telling people about my standing on the edge n peering in.... Wondering if it's easier to jump than to wait to see if I fall.
I don't want drugs.
I have used drugs MANY times before n while the regulate, they make me feel just as void n empty as when I'm depressed.
They stop me feeling altogether.
At least when I'm under a heavy blanket of misery, I am still feeling.
And feeling gives me hope.
While I can still feel, I am still alive.
And that's why I don't want drugs, I don't want to become mono-feeling n robotic.
I'm aware that other people may not perceive me like that when I'm on drugs, but that's how I remember them.
I know drugs have kept me afloat n alive through more than one winter.
They are a good thing.
I know antidepressants aren't even admitting defeat.
This isn't a battle.
It isn't something to win.
It just..... is
I have wonky brain chemistry.
Drugs stop it being wonky.
That's all there is to it.
Endorphins stop it being wonky too.
Or at least, they do most of the time.
Trouble with endorphins is this....
What goes up, must come down.
And when I am like this, my biggest problem is my inability to regulate.
I swing too low. Then it takes more and more to get me back.
Highs are giddy n fleeting. I cannot hold on to them.
I feel bereft when they vanish.
I am a junky.
I have had LOTS of endorphins recently.
Because reality, I came home.
And went back to work.
September is historically bad for me anyway.
Winter starts to creep in, days have more hours of darkness than light. Vitamin D intake drops.
SAD wraps itself around my being n threatens to drown me.
Add post race blues n all the hope, anticipation, preparation n hype that a big race holds.... Then remove any sense of purpose or forward momentum.
Add work being horrendously difficult n desperately unhappy (combining of course shift work, emotionally challenging children and colleagues I struggle with)
It all gets a bit much.
I have been told (on more than one occasion, by more than one person) that my appearance physically alters when I am flat/sinking.
I cannot fake it to those who truly see me.
I had a little epiphany when I was about 150km into the 180km bike leg of Norseman.
I was OFF MY FACE on feel good n had accomplished a HUGE physical undertaking.
I was riding across a deserted moorland, designing my next tattoo.
My face hurt from smiling.
Joy leaked from my eyes.
There was a huge rock in the middle of nowhere. It hadn't fallen off a cliff. It hadn't rolled down a hill.
It was on the tops.
Nothing was above it.
I concluded, in my delirious state, that a giant must have thrown it n that's where it landed.
What's the relevance of me telling you about the rock?
Well, the thing with wonky mental health is random thoughts appear, without explanation or warning.
Often big, heavy, unwanted fuckers too.
Like the random rock.
As I rode past the age old lump of stone n mineral, I was thinking about weather systems and seasons.
How cyclical 'things' are.
How change is necessary and how the seasons are wonderful in their own way. I love all of them.
How the shedding of skin n growth happens to us all.
How it is Ultimately Good.
How we evolve.
How our needs change over time.
How we respond to our environment.
How the weather is a good representation for emotion and mood.....
Sometimes, the sun shines. There is light n warmth cast on all things.
Growth is fast. There is a positive energy. Everything is easier in the sunshine. Any shadows are easily explained, they shift quickly.
Sometimes, there is rain which is warm and nourishing. It smells of earth n goodness.
Petichor. A good name for a good type of rain.
Occasionally, the rain is barely visible, but soaks you to the skin.
Fine, wet drizzle.
The inconvenient type that there is little protection from. Wet rain.
Then of course there is snow.
The sum of its parts altering its combined matter.
Or of course, inconvenient.
The fog does exactly what it says on the tin. It disorientates. Traps, confuses, makes you feel isolated and lost. It is rarely pleasant or easy to find your way out of.
Thunder and lightening bring change. Clashes, changes in atmosphere, disturbance, pressure.
Warm meets cold.
Shouting. Banging. Electricity.
Of course.... After the wet stuff, when the gloom lifts and the light begins to shine again, there is the magic of rainbows.
I decided on that mountain top that I would try treat my mental health like the weather. (And the weather would feature somehow in my next tattoo)
Something that is ever present.
Something that I cannot control. But I can respond to.
There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
Control what you can.
I'm not one to let the weather stop me playing out.
There is nothing I love more than open water swimming in the rain.
So, when the fog consumes me, I will either send out flares, or lay low until it lifts (rather than wondering aimlessly, becoming more lost)
I will wrap up warm n snuggly to combat against the cold of winter.
I will top my chemicals up regularly.
With good self care
With good food, containing proper nutrients (and grown in the sunshine)
My brain may behave as though it has a broken valve and allow the chemicals to leak, but if I top up regularly n ask others to check on me, I can ride this out.
My survival rate is 100%
And it's just a small piece of weather.