Anything!

Lately I’ve forgotten how much nicer it is to spend my day doing something, rather than nothing!

When I’m down, flat, depressed, I just can’t think of what to do. No ideas come to me, I think and think and it goes nowhere. I wake up in a fog, get up only when I can’t force myself to sleep any longer and lying there gets unbearable, and spend the rest of the day using as little energy as possible!

This is reflected in all the things that I don’t do. I don’t put the used knife at the sink or in the dishwasher; it stays on the bench with the butter and the spreads that should be put away in the cupboard. The bird bath gets filled up with rain or nothing, and the seed feeder empties and then sits empty: the very worst kind of bird feeding there is that; supply then cease. The dirty clothes can’t make it to the washing machine, I drive instead of public transport or walking. The ironing sits, and sits, and sits until my poor over-worked husband gets fed up and does it, while I watch in shame and guilt and secret gladness that it’s done, at least for today, until it piles up again. I do so miss my ironing lady!

I have lists of things to do, but doing them is more painful than transferring them to tomorrow’s to-do list. It’s been a few weeks of this kind of la-la nothing-ness, and it’s been getting tedious.

So I decided to muster my strength and drive myself the 10 minutes up to Doncaster Shopping Centre to go to a couple of stores. Did I remember that it was the school holidays? No, unfortunately! But never mind. Turns out, neither of the two stores that I went to visit exist there anymore!! This is such a typical palm to forehead moment from me that it has become laughable to my husband and I. A phone call to tell him such a story gives him a great big laugh and helps me feel a bit less stupid and wasteful of my limited resources.

Then he said this helpful thing. Oh well, since you’re there, take the chance to look around at any other clothing you need/want?

Usually I’d be straight back to my car and home to safety, but for some reason this time I thought why not? I looked up one of the stores I had come for, and it turned out that their brand was stocked in a couple of places although their name brand store didn’t exist anymore, so I went off looking for those stores and 3 hours later I emerged having had a pretty good day! I’d bought a pair of boots that I really liked and had been thinking about looking for/buying for a while; actually quite a long while! It all happened kind of painlessly. I’d even talked the staff into giving me 50% off instead of 30% because of a miniscule defect! Quite proud of that one. Bought a couple of fat tops, but not in the fat section; in the young cool people’s section. I’d chatted to service staff, talked to a couple of shoppers spontaneously and tried on every shoe I vaguely liked. I’d even photographed some shoes I’ll think about if I get a job or at sale time, like I’d ever remember that I’d taken the photos or where they were from! Another palm to face moment: I was meant to go to one department store to find the brand that I was after, and I spent all afternoon in the other one!! No wonder I couldn’t find what I was after! Oh dear! Again!!

So there it is, just by getting myself out of the house and being willing to/having the energy to push a bit further out of my comfort zone by staying out, several good things happened and I felt like I’d lived a day in the life of a normal person, shopping the sales in the school holidays.

That was the 7th of July, 2016.

Now, on the 27th July I’m in a totally different zone! A happy, energetic, functional, even efficiently effective zone! It’s so good! I truly literally have not felt this good since I got sick. Let’s rephrase and say that I’m feeling the best that I can remember since early 2013!!

It sort of makes me mourn all of the time that has gone by in the last 3 years – wasted hours and days and months, but they can’t be recovered so I just have to put them in the past, and put my attention to the excellent present that is making me feel good.

This is a solid proof, once and for all, that justifies me for defending myself over these years: my disease bipolar is all about the chemicals. When the chemicals are balanced, this is what I can be like, my best self.

When the chemicals aren’t right, I can bust my gut to be better, and exhaust myself in the endeavor, and get nowhere. But finally, all the hard work, all the psychiatrist’s appointments, all the tablets, all the heartache, all the problems and difficulties are just faded away and I’m well! My husband is so relieved. I think we had just about resigned ourselves to the fact of our lives just being sucked into the vortex of this evil disease. But now we know. We finally know that it doesn’t have to be that way. It can be better, to the point of almost normal. And I’ll take almost normal any day!

Of course the story isn’t over. This isn’t the end. This is a good cycle, but it’s still a cycle. That’s how bipolar works, one cycle followed by another; good following bad, and so on. Our aim is to cycle less often and less severely. Proving that I can get to a good cycle is just such great news, a huge relief and gives hope for the future. The medicines do their part, my psychiatrist and GP do theirs, all of your support does its part too and I do mine, and sometimes we hit the jack pot! Let’s celebrate it while it lasts, and know that when we go down again we’ll have more hope for coming back up!

 

 

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Summertime sadness

 

“What a beautiful day! You can’t feel bad in this weather.”

 

“At least it’s sunny outside, that must make you feel better.”

 

“You’ll feel better if you get out in the sunshine.”

 

Fact: some people can suffer from a illness called SAD (seasonal affective disorder) where the lack of sunshine in the winter months causes them to feel down or flat and out of sorts. When the summer and long sunny days return, this illness reverses and the person gets back to “normal”.

Fact: some people can suffer from major depression where a lack of serotonin causes severe symptoms including inability to enjoy life, lack of motivation, guilt, sadness and suicidal thoughts. Sunshine does not increase serotonin and has no effect on depression.

It’s odd to me how many people have suggested that sunshine will, has, should, could or might make me feel better. I agree that being in the sun makes you feel better when you have a cold, a broken leg, are having a bad day, or are at the beach. But not true for depression, FYI. At least not for me.

I actually find sunshine makes me feel worse.

Before I got sick, I loved the sun. I looked forward to sunny days. I checked the weather every day to see if it would be a good day to sit outside for lunch.

In theory I still do love sunny days. But sitting in the sun doesn’t make my head a better, easier place to be.

Sitting in the sun while the inside of my head looks and feels like a dusty, musty, fusty, dark, dingy, crumbly, decaying, spider-webby room filled with sharp things and broken glass and knives and tears and hurt and pain only points out to me the contrast.

Why would that make me feel better? How can that make me feel better?

Incongruous: adjective, meaning not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something.

 

That’s a perfect description of me sitting outside in the sun.

I am not in harmony with the surroundings. I am not in keeping with the environment. I don’t fit, I don’t match, I’m out of place.

Being out there in the sun just makes me feel out of place. Glorious sun streaming down on my face and inside I’m full of darkness and hardness and awfulness and horridness.

It’s brutal.

So actually, I feel much more at home on a cold, rainy, foggy, cloudy, overcast, snowy, icy, windy, awful day.

I do go out on the fine sunny days and try to enjoy life. I try. I take my camera, try to get some shots to record that I’m out in the sun. That I’m out enjoying life. And sometimes I do enjoy it for a while. But it’s all a distraction. Then you go back home and there it is again, the black dog, waiting.

Waiting.

The black dog does not like sunshine, or enjoying life, or going out on fine days. He likes the musty, dusty, fusty room and the dark, sharp, hurtful things.

If possible he will go with me as I head out on a sunny day. He will go with me so that he can sit next to me and over-shadow me and ruin the sunny day.

He’s such a spoil-sport!

People say you can learn to live with the black dog. I’ve always been a dog lover, but I don’t want to learn to live with the black dog. I want the black dog to die so that I can shed off all the nasty and awful effects that he has brought into my life.

Any have a method of killing the black dog that works?? I’d love to hear it!