Greetings from the Depths (Originally published 12/5/12)

“You’re drowning in the grief of Jupiter’s water
Let me open my teeth and cradle you there”
– “Grief,” from the film “The Devil’s Carnival”

I wasn’t very happy with my last blog entry. I felt I rushed through it and never properly edited it. I may go back at some point and rework it, but I’d like to go more in depth as to why I was unhappy with it. A while ago I wrote about trying to hold off a manic episode. I know that after a manic episode occurs, I will have to deal with the inevitable depression that follows and that was precisely what happened. I had started working on the last entry about anger and rage when the depression crept in. It made writing very difficult and I rushed my editing process a bit so I could be done with it and move on. I planned on writing about the depression while suffering through it, but I couldn’t. I could hardly get off the couch to do basic things like showering or going to the store; focusing to write coherently was completely impossible.

One of the first symptoms of my depression is a lack of concentration. I can’t even pay enough attention to watch a thirty minute sitcom, which is by no means an intellectually Herculean feat. This leads to my sitting in front of the TV, not paying attention, and ruminating over every stressor in my life, running the gamut of problems from family to financial. This time there was a new worry, a court appearance scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving to set my child support payments. In order to prevent panic attacks (which I proceeded to have anyway) I would try to get out of the house, but I wasn’t always successful. I would alternate between sitting with my racing thoughts and falling asleep on the couch, thoroughly exhausted. Although it seems that the converse would be true, depression is far more exhausting and draining than mania. The lack of sleep that accompanies mania is far more manageable. After all, it’s easy to stay awake when you feel as though everything is yours for the taking. When depression sets in and it seems as if your brain’s sole function is to torture you and push your body to the point hyperventilation and chest pains, it’s physically and mentally draining.

After my last manic episode, I knew the depression was coming, and with the added stress of the child support hearing, I almost could have marked it on a calendar. As the hearing drew closer, the depression intensified to the point that I would wake up and lay in bed shaking for ninety minutes or so until I had the strength to get up and take a Xanax. The night before the hearing was torture. I didn’t want to take anything to help me sleep for fear of oversleeping, so I tossed and turned all night, constantly checking the clock. I made it to court with plenty of time to spare, but then I had to explain to the magistrate about being in the outpatient program at Four Winds Psychiatric Hospital and how I lost my job, substantially reducing how much child support I could pay. I almost broke into tears explaining my reasons for going to a psych hospital. Having to tell this to a total stranger in a court of law was an entirely different level of stress. Luckily, the magistrate understood and because of my mental health issues I was assigned a court-appointed lawyer to assist me. As soon as I left the building, I wanted to collapse into a heap and simply throw a tantrum and cry. I managed the two and a half hour drive back home without incident.

The entire incident of being depressed was the first time I recognized it from the onset. My biggest concern, as always, is how long the episode would last. In this case, I felt better just about the time I got home. This also reinforced my theory that the child support hearing was the main trigger this time, and as soon as it was over and I got home I felt better. Granted, it began several days before and followed a manic episode, so it still fit the pattern, but making it through that hearing and having a lawyer made me breathe much easier.

Unfortunately, I also realized that writing about depression while still depressed is nearly impossible for me, hence my small break from blogging. Hopefully now I can get a lot more writing done as the holidays approach.

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