It's hard to find the words when I am depressed, but I will try anyway. I also don't feel like doing anything, including writing this, but I try to push through it. I first suffered depression in my late teens. I am now in my mid-forties. My diagnosis was changed from 'treatment resistant depression' and anxiety to bipolar 1 disorder, PTSD and social anxiety disorder. I want to try to describe what depression is like for me and some things that help.
I am extremely introverted and isolate myself. I become even more isolated when depressed. I communicate less with people who care about me. It's because I don't want them to see me this way. Low in mood with no energy.
I am currently depressed and I think it is to do with a medication adjustment. The medication adjustment is because I have trouble with excess sleep and also I have difficulty orgasming on the medications for bipolar disorder. And then, if I do have sex and/or orgasm, I get depressed (history of trauma). I need to be able to wake up at a reasonable time and stay awake to be able to work more.
Over the past few weeks, I have been decreasing one of the medications, an antipsychotic to discontinue it. Ironically, I also felt depressed on a higher dose of this medication.
When I am depressed, I become even more like a hermit crab retreating from the world. I isolate because it's so exhausting to mask being more 'normal.' I sleep a lot more (I already sleep too much - apparently a side effect of the medications). I have aches and pains in my muscles and joints. I feel emotionally numb, but sometimes I feel tearful. My mood feels flat. I don't feel like I would be very good company. My thinking is more negative which takes effort to counteract. I have suicidal thoughts. I feel very discouraged about my current situation - low income, still unable to work full-time etc. I avoid communication with others. I don't feel like doing anything. I have extreme fatigue on top of my excessive daytime sleepiness.
I ended up crashing and sleeping a good part of the day away today but I did fight through and get some things done. I had a shower and I washed my sheets. Some people with depression neglect their hygiene but I like to feel clean no matter what mood I'm in. I feel even worse if I feel or smell bad. I usually don't bother with makeup and I just brush my towel-dried hair and let it dry. So I don't bother with 'grooming' other than basic hygiene - shower, wash hair when it's greasy, brush teeth. I made dinner tonight, even though I've indulged in excessive chocolate. I have chocolate cravings when I'm depressed. So washing the sheets and cooking a meal were my major accomplishments today.
I find it helpful to write in a journal no matter what mood I'm in. I've been part of an online bipolar support group for the past year. Sometimes some things people say are triggering, but it's been helpful to have understanding from others who are going through something similar. I have a close friend who checks up on me daily. I didn't have that before. Sometimes the only friends I've had are online friends. I like to be alone most of the time, yet sometimes I do feel lonely too, which can contribute to depression.
For the past few years, I've been painting, no matter what mood I'm in. It's like a little escape. Yesterday, I painted a paua shell. For those few hours, brushing on paint, it took the focus off my mind and the aches and pains of my body and onto that canvas. Painting for me is like a form of mindfulness in action. It calms my mind when it's racing with mania too.
I try to make myself go for a walk, although it didn't happen today. The last thing I feel like doing when I am depressed is exercising, yet a mental health nurse said that if that is the only thing I do each day, it will help my mental health by getting the blood flowing through my brain, improving my fitness and leaving the house.
I take my camera when I walk and look out out for birds and take photos of them. I also take photos of nature in general. I'd like to try paint the birds at some stage. Painting is a hobby that keeps me going. It takes my mind off the seemingly hopelessness of the situation. I keep hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.
Xanthe finds writing and painting to be therapeutic. She has lived with mental illness for over 25 years. She has been diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder after originally being diagnosed with 'treatment resistant' depression with general anxiety.