Friday, October 19, 2012

Down But Not Out

I've been a little AWOL lately, here and elsewhere. I haven't been feeling like myself - I'm not sleeping at night but sleeping plenty during the day, my mind is racing near constantly, and I frequently want to stab otherwise perfectly pleasant people with the nearest screwdriver. At first I blamed it on PMS because the timing was right, but PMS doesn't last for weeks. It took a little wake-up call before I could be honest with myself: my depression is breaking through, and I'm not managing it well.

I've written about my experiences with depression before. It's a life-long condition - a chronic disease, some would say - for me, and I'm lucky that it's usually well-managed with medication and a counselor who's not afraid to tell me when I'm completely full of shit. Most of the time, I don't even have to think about it. But once or twice a year it rears its ugly head, usually when there's a confluence of events that stack up like dominoes and fall in perfect succession. This time, work stuff and volunteer stuff and personal stuff all got their punches in. My bosses canceled a project I was really invested in, making me realize that their priorities don't match up with mine and that I probably don't have a rock star future in that office. That same day I got news that I'd been passed over for a volunteer position I really wanted, leaving me feeling disappointed and unappreciated. I haven't been able to progress in roller derby because my shoulder refuses to heal. My 15-year-old cat who's in kidney failure, Juliette, has been eating less and sleeping more lately, leading me to believe the end is approaching. And I recently started a new relationship with an awesome guy whom I really like, but the uncertainty of where it might go and what he thinks of me is wracking my nerves and leaving me twisted up in knots. The end result of all this is that my anxiety is through the roof and every minor irritation puts me more on edge. I'm an angry, irritable, moody, exhausted basketcase.

The worst of it all is the anxiety. I'm constantly trying to manage everything around me, and worrying about everything I can't manage. I grasp at superficial ways to control things: pushing my manager to define my workload for the upcoming year, asking the awesome guy to define our relationship too soon, offering Juliette four or five different foods in the hopes that she'll eat enough of one or any of them to stay over five pounds. When all that doesn't "fix" things, I start to consider the only real pieces of control I have: considering quitting my job, resigning my volunteer position, not showing up to roller derby practice, and quitting seeing the awesome guy all together. It's ridiculous, because none of those are what I really want, but the out-of-control feeling the anxiety is produces is so uncomfortable that they start to look like attractive options.

A far smarter (and funnier) woman than me pointed out that depression lies. It makes me think that things are far more dire than they are, but worse, it makes me believe that being in control is the answer to my problems. Intellectually, I know that being in control wouldn't fix everything, but emotionally, I believe that it would. I just can't believe that being in control wouldn't make everything better.

So right now I cling to the following words, and repeat them to myself over and over and over again, hoping they'll finally take: 
"No matter what happens, in control or not, everything will be okay."
Whether I get to do the big project I fell in love with or not. Whether I serve at one level or another in an organization. Whether people listen to my opinions and take my advice or not. Whether he calls or not. It will all be okay. I will still wake up in the morning (or afternoon, because let's be honest), and I will still have the same friends who love me, and I will still be able to make ice cream and write and roller skate, even if I don't do any of it as well as or under the exact circumstances I want. 

I will be okay.

I try to breathe and believe that, because I have to ride this wave out, and it's the only thing that will get me through.


Katherine C. James said...

I'm sorry you've been suffering. Extreme anxiety is a terrible thing. What helps me most is accepting that life can be difficult: When I try to control life, I feel out of control; when I accept that life is unpredictable and impermanent, I feel so much better. Accepting impermanence, instead of trying to bend recalcitrant life to my will, is when I settle in, relax, breathe. Take care of yourself: food, exercise, sleep. Go back to your basics: hunker down, settle in. Wishing you well. Sending you love and support. xo.

Jess said...

I hope this is more temporary and you're able to find yourself back on the right brain chemistry track soon. Take care.

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