Over the past week or so, I haven’t been feeling very well. To be more direct, I’m feeling a bit depressed again.
This feels extra aggravating given that most of this spring I’ve been doing very well, and for much long stretches of time. It’s been so good to feel good! And now that I know what it is to feel good, when I don’t feel good, I’m not just depressed but also disappointed.
I can’t exactly explain why my mood has turned dark. I know it is not about having allowed myself to be vulnerable in group. Though I had a bit of a shame attack the next day, it faded quickly, and overall I feel good about taking that risk.
It might be the additional supplements I started taking in the last part of May. The nutritionist I’m working with had me start taking an herbal liver support and then another herbal concoction that is supposed to support the adrenal glands and maybe address my chronic fatigue. I know from experience that small changes to meds can through me into a tailspin, so maybe the herbs can, too. I stopped the adrenal support after just three days because I started waking up six or eight times a night and the tingliness in my legs was driving me crazy. But a week later, it wasn’t better, so I quit the liver support a week ago, too. My sleep has improved since then, but my mood has continued to head downward. And I still feel tingly when I lie down.
It might be the work I did in therapy last week. I finally talked to E about how I felt about the way she told me, abruptly, that she didn’t like texting with me anymore. This was back in early January, and it hasn’t stopped bothering me. But I wasn’t ready to bring it up for a long time. However, I was on a roll, determined to be brave and say the things that mattered to me. It was a hard, uncomfortable conversation. It took a while, but she did end up seeing my point of view, so I’m glad I brought it up. Well, okay, not glad. Relieved, maybe.
But once we’d talked about how hurt I was by the way she told me, and she apologized, I had a different kind of pain to think about. Instead of being mad because she hadn’t thought about the impact on me (and she admits she hadn’t), I had to face the loss of the texting relationship and all the support that represented for me. A lot of that has been blocked out by my frustration with the way she told me (Note: I just reread the post in which I talked about it, and I can see I softened the way she said it, as well as my reaction. I wanted to be less angry and more generous in my interpretation of what she needed. But the truth is, I have been upset about it this whole time.) So maybe the loss plus the body discomfort is adding up to a bit of a depression.
But in a way, it doesn’t matter why I feel depressed, does it? What matters is how I deal with it.
As usual when I’m struggling, I don’t feel like getting up in the mornings. There’s a heaviness sitting on me when I awaken. It weighs my heart down and makes me think I can’t face the day. And in fact, even with my best efforts, I have been able to “just do it” and get up. But I have learned that just lying there for an hour–or two hours–doesn’t make me feel better either. So I’ve returned to guided meditations to calm the stormy thoughts or offer me some kind of hope, and I generally find that can get me up.
During the day, I’m having trouble again with my focus. I forget what I’m doing and catch myself staring off into space. It’s hard to get things done. So I’m 1) reducing my expectations and 2) breaking tasks into small, 10-15 minute pieces. I can do most things for 15 minutes. Oh, and I write myself notes.
I pull out my affirmation cards that remind me that all feelings are acceptable, and no feelings last forever. In the midst of the worst moments, it doesn’t feel true, but there’s a part of my brain, buried somewhere under my negative thinking that knows this bleakness is a common, normal human experience. Not a pleasant one, but a human one. And like all other experiences, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
I catch myself thinking, “I don’t deserve to ____,” (fill in the blank) or “I’m so useless,” or “there’s no point.” I stop and notice that thought, and I replace it with something I know is true: “I deserve the same care and understanding as anyone else.” “I might think I’m useless, but that’s just depression talking; it’s a biased and excessively negative interpretation that I don’t have to believe.”
Modifying my thoughts is not irrelevant, but what seems to help more is modifying my behavior. Going for a walk when I don’t feel like it. Taking a shower and putting on clean clothes instead of sitting around in those same old yoga pants. Buying flowers. Cleaning up the kitchen so my house looks nice. It is hard to do this. I will probably need to go to bed early, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll sleep better tonight. At least I’ll wake up to a clean kitchen.
CREDIT: Photo by Paul Thomas on Unsplash
Hey, a thought:
In your paragraph starting with “I catch myself thinking”, it seemed to me that your “modified” language sounded adult, and talking down and harsh. I try to talk to my hurting self/selves with the same voice and language I have used and do use with my grandkids. (The oldest one will turn 8 on my 77th birthday in July.)
How about burning some sage in that room? Affectionately – TS
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You are right, of course. My suffering self needs a gentle, loving voice. I think those substitute thoughts are actually for my adults self, as a reminder about how I need to behave. If they work, then my wiser adult self can perhaps say something like, “Oh, honey, you’re having a hard time getting up today, aren’t you?”
Sometimes I can do that. And sometimes I can’t, but at least I interrupt the negative thoughts.
A little more sage burning is a good suggestion, thank you dear TS.
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Sending love to you Q. Depression is no fun at all and can feel so consuming. I hope things even out soon. Last week I really struggled to do anything at all. This week feels a bit better. I guess being kind yourself and patient is part of the way forward. I know it’s not easy when that critical voice starts ranting ☹️. I think talking about the impact of the texts being revoked is huge. I really admire your courage in tackling the things that really hurt you. I am going to try and do the same this week with Em. It’s not easy though, is it? Take good care of yourself xxxx
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No, not easy to talk about this stuff. Not easy to say (not literally, but in effect), I love you E, and you seriously hurt my feelings and I’m upset with you. But I don’t regret it, because I think it’s another step toward being my most authentic self.
Wishing you the best in your hard conversations with Em. xxoo
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Yeah- authenticity is massive. We can’t account for other people but being the most authentic we can be means we can at least begin to live with ourselves and know we have been the true version of how it is. I think I spend more time beating myself up for what I don’t say than suffering the consequences of what I do say!
Me too! When I decide it’s time to speak up about something very important, I give myself time to think about it, too, and I do my best to say it in a way that is not about blaming the other person so much as describing my reality. And I can live with that.