Other Times

I have decided that my depression is just a chronic condition, like my colleague’s lupus, or my father’s epilepsy. These conditions are never going to go away, only managed. And sometimes I’ll manage better than others times.

These are the other times.

Inside my head, I hear the same voices telling me over and over: I am bad. I am just disgusting. The people who care about me don’t really know. If they knew, they would be repulsed. There’s something evil and twisted in me…

So I restart my at-home yoga practice at evening when I get home from work. It feels good to stretch out after a day in the office, but my practice isn’t reaching my heart. That’s okay, I tell myself, every day on the mat is a different day.

But I wake up in the morning wanting to hurt myself. I am so full of the hateful negative energy that I find it hard to get up. The voices say: I am horrible. I am separate from the world. I can’t connect because there is something fundamentally wrong with me. 

I know those are just voices, just habitual thoughts and not reality, so I tell them it would be better if they could just tell me what is really wrong. I tell them, whatever you are trying to communicate, you don’t need to be so mean to me.

I can’t get them to answer, and I can’t get them to shut up either.

I’m getting stressed out at work. January was (mostly) manageable. February is already out of control, and it looks like I can’t plan on keep normal work hours until at least the middle of April. I think work stress is something that opens the door for a worsening of my depressive symptoms. I felt so much better during my leave last fall. Perhaps that’s why the depression had been building over recent weeks.

The negativity takes over my head, and my body as well. It physically hurts. I’ve been meditating, but it’s increasingly hard to conjure up that feeling of being unconditionally loved. Nothing is helping. This morning, I can’t stop thinking, burning would provide me with a release.

So today I take my silly dogs for a long walk across the meadow and back through the woods. The weather is mild, and they are their usually fast, bouncing, joyful selves. I get some fresh air and a bit of exercise. It helps a little, but not much.

Depression is an illness, I remind myself. I don’t really expect to get well. I just need to keep on managing. I feel like giving up sometimes, but that’s the illness too. I have to keep trying.

trying so hard

30 thoughts on “Other Times

  1. Other times are tough. It feels like it never will end. It gets hard to remember and believe there are days when it wasn’t (and won’t be) so hard. The healthy coping skills can take the edge off, and its good you are doing those. But sometimes you want relief, and the old ones are tempting cause afterall they do work… sort of.

    Thank you for writing it out, for sharing. I’m sorry you are having other times. You do have a lot going on. Work, the serpent, the procedure. and lots and lots of others stuff too. Stress both triggers depression and ptsd responses, and also diminishes the capacity to deal with it. Hope you keep granting yourself lots of compassion and gentleness. You are carrying on. You are!

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    • I tell myself to be gentle and patient. Then I think of this grant proposal which is likely to eat up my life until April and I end up agitated again. Then I work on patience and calm again. I’m going in a circle, not sure if that is forward progress at all…

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      • It probably is forward progress because you aren’t falling back on your old coping skills. thats a big step forward from where you have been. circles that are gradually moving forward. yep.

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  2. I just wanted you to know I’m reading and listening and sending hugs. I hope things begin to feel better soon. You are doing a good job keeping up with self care strategies. That’s really amazing to be able to do so when you are feeling so badly. Xx

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    • Thanks Alice. It’s harder to do the self-care when I’m feeling lousy, but that exactly when I need to do it. The cruelest thing about depression is that it weakens your ability to do the things that might make you feel better. It also makes those things less pleasant and soothing than they are when you feel well.

      I appreciate your encouragement–and the hugs too.

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  3. :/ Managing. Yeah. That’s what it comes down to. Minute by minute, day by agonizing day. Management. And it sucks.

    Thought I was doing well, but I crashed and crashed hard the other day. Just picking myself up, trying to keep going like you. None of it is a cure. None of it fixes things or makes me feel better. But I keep trying. ❤

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  4. Stress. How to relieve stress. Make a list? Hot baths, love the walk with dogs…I’ve always found relief with some sort of exercise and fresh air too while doing it if possible…moving the blood through movement refreshes. I’d offer the stress reliever of chocolate, but that can lead to, well, big hips. What things do you love that relax you?

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    • I also think getting outside and moving (so the dogs are getting frequent trips to the off leash park by the river). Yoga helps. I can’t seem to fit most classes within my schedule, but I do practice some at home. Hot showers. International vacations, but I guess I can’t do that all the time. Too bad! I like chocolate but I don’t generally feel like food is a stress reliever. Sometimes scribbly, ugly drawings. I usually can’t make anything very nice when I feel lousy (whereas you make those lovely butterflies), but just the process can be good.

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      • Scribbly, ugly drawings were a way I once got the gunk out, a very good way to relieve the stress or agony of containing things a child/woman should never have to contain.
        One half hour a day during my therapeutic years with Raymond. Sculptures too. I may have shared this: http://wp.me/p4Qpte-a6
        During all the years with any therapist, I rarely talked details. With him, I constructed the details, the filth residing inside during my half hour at home. But with him, we worked on present issues and how to manage daily life along with reaching rather large goals.
        But for me, I needed to get out the gunk inside. The book did that. Cleansed my insides. But that didn’t occur until my late fifties, scattering the tarry filth to the universe, sharing with friends who read the book, and others I don’t know but whose words of compassion healed the tender areas insides where the incisions took place. It is not easy to get it out after a life of containment but was something I needed to do eventually.
        So however one can get ‘it’ out, I’m all for, if that’s what the person needs.

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  5. Work…after out time off, I am wondering if we are realizing what life could be like without all the stress? I love work. It probably keeps me sane but stresses me out to no avail at the same time. I struggle with the same thoughts as you and I don’t know if not working or having a less stressful job would help. If I could stay in the yoga studio 3 hours a day I might feel better. Goodness, I love connecting with others, the warmth and light in the studio…the movement and knowing that I am okay even when I am not. Depression is evil. Ignorance might be bliss but knowing what we know and beating ourselves up for being less than we know we could be and wanting to be better without these crazy thoughts of harming ourselves…..

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  6. Mi querida Q, what can I say that will comfort you? Your last sentence is so powerful. I know those words and the impact of it all. My intuition tells me that the Little Girl feels threatened now that you’re back at work again and burning might be a way for you to connect with her – for her to get your attention. I think of it as ‘Stress’ which is representative of the adult world (obligations and responsibilities) vs ‘Little Girl’ and all that is good, innocent, carefree and whole about you. ‘Stress’ is the sneaky bastard that’s telling you you’re bad, because stress starts to play on the piano of trauma, starts to smack down on those keys. Those keys are directly connected to the scenes in your movie called “Trauma”. When the keys are pressed, it doesn’t mean you get a visual of past trauma necessarily, but the emotional scenery is triggered and Stress is very happy to narrate all the horror scenes.
    I may be talking out of my ass, but you know I live for metaphor and analogy.
    If you could have a conversation with stress and meet the constructive stress and the destructive stress – separate them – then maybe you can get closer to some answers you need in order to experience a shift where you no longer feel the need to burn.
    TQM xxx

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  7. I think the depression is the part that says “I don’t really expect to get well.” I expect you are getting well, and will continue to. Due to your diligence and incredibly persistent with in therapy and then outside as well. I know it is so hard to see any other way, when in the middle of those yucky and very difficult feelings and sensations. Something in you hadn’t quit yet, and I know won’t. This is just so hard, and you are doing remarkably well. You have had one traumatic life, Q. More than you realize.

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    • I don’t know that “getting well” is a realistic goal for me. That’s not just depression talking–I just can’t see it going away completely. I can get better, though, and I think overall I have been, even if there are ups and downs. Anyway, I’m not quitting.

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  8. Ah, February is hard. AND depression is a chronic condition. The worst is trying to remember that the shame and desire to self-harm and all the rest of the shitty package are symptoms of the chronic condition, rather than actual facts about my life and self. Sigh. Hugs if you want them, dear Q. One of my strategies is to try to let the dogs show me the way to joy. Those walks, those wags. I love the dogs and try to be present for them, and sometimes that allows me become present to myself in a good way, and to access that in-the-moment doggy happiness. Sometimes it’s fleeting, but it’s a reminder that it’s possible. And it’s better than nothing!

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    • Yes, thanks I’ll take the hugs. And I agree, the way dogs live happily in the moment is an excellent example. Walking with them is *always* good for me, no matter how I feel. I love when they tear across the meadows and then run back to check in, their ears back, tails up, mouths open in a dog smile.

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      • Dogs are the best. My old Brindle Dog will thump her tail happily when I so much as glance over at her. Dogs are such a reminder to pay attention to what’s going on right now.

        The other thing my dogs and cats have been immensely helpful with is just keeping me going. If I didn’t have them depending on me, I think I would have long ago given up on many aspects of my functioning, including my job. Maybe that’s not actually the case, but there have been weeks and sometimes months at a time where the only reason I go to work is so I can keep the house and therefore the animals, because otherwise where would they end up? They’re a solid, positive reason to get out of bed and keep plugging away at life even when I find life hard.

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        • I’ve heard that from other people, too. I met a man from Mexico at the dog park. He talked about being so lonely and depressed here that he could hardly keep going. Then he got a puppy. She is now one of those enormous white pit bulls with a broad chest and a deep growl. She walks around kind of growling all the time, and some people are afraid of her, but she’s a love, actually. He says she saved his life, by giving him love and keeping him going when he didn’t have any other reason to go on.

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          • Ah, I love those big friendly pitbulls with their wide heads and huge grins. Yes, I can say that my dogs and cats have kept me alive and helped me so much. What a lovely story about that man and his dog. Your description of her made me smile.

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