Image by Ben Grantham, used with Creative Commons License
Last week was a rough one for me. I found myself frequently in tears and overwhelmed by simple tasks. While I’m on medication to help with my depressive lows, it’s important to remember that medications don’t make you emotionless. You’ll still experience highs and lows, but they should be considerably more manageable than they would be without the meds. I’m not sure what triggered this low, or why it lasted almost two weeks. I had to be very gentle with myself and give myself a lot of grace, while at the same time jumping that hurdle from “I feel like emotional shit” to “I sort of feel like emotional shit so let’s see how long I can milk the sympathy.” It’s not even so much that I’m demanding sympathy from others… it’s just that there is a large grey area between being depressed, and being typical and high functioning, and that grey area is sometimes more difficult to overcome than the depressive low itself. When I’m barely functioning at all, spending a lot of time in bed or taking too much time to get household chores done, that’s one thing. But when I’m feeling sad and I know that I have work to do, but I’m not quite sad enough to justify laying in bed or being “lazy”, it takes a lot of effort to get to an area of higher functioning. It’s no fun to be feeling off and having to be productive at the same time. A thought that often clouds my mind when this is going on is that I would be better off not being around because if I can’t do the hard work it takes to get to a place of higher functioning then I’m not a worthwhile person or a productive member of society. It’s a difficult place to be in.
I’ve been trying to develop a routine that balances kindness toward myself and self-care with productivity and timeliness. I start my day with a cup of coffee and some time to lounge in bed while checking my e-mail and keeping up with my RSS feed. After taking the dogs out and making sure all the pets are fed, I watch a little bit of TV while getting breakfast, writing in my prayer journal, and reading the Bible. Then I wash my face and get dressed, do the chores that need to be done on a daily basis, and take the dogs on a walk. The rest of the day has a much more flexible schedule, but I find that starting my day out slowly and in a manageable way helps me get things done while keeping me motivated.
I’m hoping that I won’t have a depressive low as bad as this past one for a while to come. Knowing that I can get through it, however, is powerful fodder that can remind me of my strength and capability.