It had to happen sooner or later. I set an impossible course for myself. I demanded happiness from everyone around me and put a crazy amount of pressure on myself to be joyful at all times. You know what’s coming next, don’t you? I crashed. I am still burning.
I’ve been watching my diet – and by watching, I just mean not eating fast food and not eating junk out of the machines at work. I was doing yoga twice a day. The scale hadn’t moved much, but my clothes were fitting differently and I was feeling great.
Wednesday night I went to a book-signing with Julie and we had dinner and I had two margaritas and didn’t do yoga. Wednesday was also the third day of a spectacularly bad week at work. Thursday I woke up late and didn’t do yoga before work. I had a shitty Thursday at work. I also had nothing for lunch because I hadn’t gone to the grocery store so I went to McDonalds, “just this once.” By 5pm I was in a major funk and by 6:00pm, I gave up and went to bed. I thought Friday would be a better day, starting out with ten hours of sleep. But it wasn’t. It sucked even worse than Thursday and I went to McDonald’s for lunch again. I decided that I would go to the store after work to get some real food. But I didn’t. I went to Walgreen’s to get nicotine lozenges, bought a bottle of diet 7-up, went to Sonic for dinner and then had three drinks – double shots of vodka. Saturday had to be better, right? But I had to work and that day was terrible too and by the time I got finished working, I just wanted a nap. So I slept for 4 hours. And then I went to Sonic for dinner and drank some more.
All told, I’ve gained 5 pounds in 5 days and I feel like shit. What I discovered on Saturday was that I had also forgotten to take my blood pressure medicine for three days. That means I get bloated and I feel sluggish. It also means that I didn’t take St John’s Wort for three days – my natural anti-depressant – because I take it at the same time I take the blood pressure medication. I had been thinking of just taking the St Johns Wort until I ran out and then not buying more because I didn’t think it was actually doing anything. I mean, I felt fine. In fact, until Wednesday, I felt great.
It’s weird that I went from feeling great to falling into an emotional hole. It’s not like I’m new to this; you’d think I’d see it coming. But I didn’t. Even after it happened it took me two days to figure out when it went awry.
I’ve discovered some pretty big keys to myself lately. I know that I say terrible things to myself – things I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy. I know how that personal laugh track began. I had begun working on changing it. I was surrounding myself with positive people and putting positive things into my head. But there isn’t a magic cure. I believe that some components of depression are physical and/or chemical. Unfortunately, I am unable to take medication that will balance that out and so I need to find ways to change my thinking, my habits, and my attitudes. Changing those three things will – eventually – keep me level and evened-out but it is not magical and it’s not an overnight process. There are things I can do – like the St John’s Wort and the yoga – that will help the physical/chemical aspects of it, but I think that I will always have to deal with it on some level.
So now … back to the beginning to try to claw my way out of the hole again. I’m not angry with myself (which is a sign of improvement in itself) but I am tired. I just want to sleep and let all of this wash over me and be gone when I wake. Nothing is that easy, though. This little crash had a big lesson for me – a lesson I may be ready to actually use.
There is a part of me that is dismayed, that wanted to beat depression forever and never deal with it again. That’s the part that still believes in unicorns and fairy dust. Even anti-depressants don’t cure it (and for me, anti-depressants magnify it). It doesn’t go away; it can only be managed. I’ve found the tools that work for me and the lesson I learned is that I can’t set those tools aside.
I think the biggest lesson, though, is that it really isn’t safe for me to pretend that everything is wonderful when the truth is that I feel like I am trying to walk through a pool of molasses. Uphill. With a 50lb gorilla on my back. Against the wind. You get the idea. I learned to be honest with myself; that honesty is what saved my life. Being honest with other people … not so easy. So. Um. Here you go. Have fun.