Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Staring Down The Beast

It's no secret that I've been dealing with the beast that is depression for years and years and years. I was all of 16 when I believe it first started, 17 when I wound up in a doctor's office and then in therapy because it was effecting my physical health, and just 20 when I started taking Zoloft for the first time.

The beast and I know each other well.

I will not bore you with extensive descriptions of our relationship. It is what it is, and I really feel no need to give the beast any more attention than it already has received. Most of my blog readers are family and friends, and they already know all too well just exactly what I've dealt with and probably don't want to hear about it again anyway. If you are curious, though, I highly recommend Rebecca Hunt's fantastic novel, Mr. Chartwell, which does an incredible job of dealing with depression in what I feel is a realistic and relatable manner. Her descriptions - which are based on Winston Churchill's own ideas - certainly struck a cord with me given my own experiences.

So where am I going with this? Why am I bringing it up?

About two weeks ago I woke up to realize that the beast had crept back into my life and had done quite a nice job of settling in and making me miserable before I had realized that it had returned. It's very sneaky, the beast, and I don't always realized that it's worming it's way back in. Sure, with twenty some odd years of dealing with it under my belt I'm better armed for the battle....but I just don't always realize what's happening while it's happening. The fact that all of my lifestyle changes over the last few years have by and large kept it at bay means that I perhaps wasn't being as vigilant as I should have been.

This time the beast chose to show up in a form of seasonal depression (AKA, Seasonal Affective Disorder, the winter blues, post-holiday let down, etc.) This is both fantastic (YAY! It's easy to vanquish!) and highly annoying (Sonofab...damn thing is like clockwork and there's little I can do to prevent it.) We're guessing it was encouraged by all of our loss last year, the surgery and a highly stressful holiday season. I would go so far as to say that my beloved dog's death pushed me over the edge. For sure it's considerably worse this year than it has been for a very long time.

Irregardless, it's here and it must be dealt with.

So. What do I do?
  1. The key is really in recognizing the beast. Once that's done it truly looses it's power. Honest to God, those 20 years of dealing with it have made it manageable. Sure, it still totally stinks when I realize it has settled in...but it's been declawed and neutered.
  2. Sunshine, full-spectrum lights and exercise. All MUSTS, especially with the beast in this form. Sticking to a strict allergy diet and getting plenty of sleep is also necessary.
  3. Have you noticed that in January and February I tend to let myself get fully absorbed in gigantic/hugely absorbing projects? Last year it was the Princess and this year it's the scrapbook blanket. These projects allow me to get out of my head, provide some structure, and help me combat the beast in the best way possible....through creation.
  4. I push myself out of my safe spot so that it doesn't also become my prison. This means following through on family activities like our recent trip to the Nelson, pushing myself to see friends, and changing up some of my routine. This is all the hard part because it does go against my nature in many ways.
  5. The word NO is also very helpful.
  6. Seek outside help when needed. This time I know I don't need therapy or meds (I've done both and feel they both are very important tools that should be embraced....and not shamed.) It did, however, help considerably to have a long talk with my allergist, and I have other resources in place should I need them.
  7. I know I must also honor my feelings - because even if they are ridiculously exaggerated by the beast they are coming from a real place and must be allowed to exist and be worked through accordingly.
  8. Patience, patience, patience.
The beast is currently disgruntled as it appears its stay won't be as long as it would like.

As for myself, I have no wish to drag this conversation out any further...but I did want to be honest. I began this blog with the intent of sharing my creative life, and this is part and parcel.

I hope you all understand.

1 comment:

LeAnn said...

Thank you for sharing. I have never been to a doctor, but I have been on an emotional rollercoaster all my life. I just got done sharing with someone about how "tired" I have felt and was wondering if it was winter blues. Sometimes recognizing what is going on is half the battle. Love you and apprciate our open-ness.