Sunday, January 30, 2011

Swiping the Smudges

I understand not the ebb and flow. When the cloud of depression settles upon me in suffocating gloom and when it shifts, eases and floats slowly away.

I wish it were as simple as pressing a lever near the steering wheel, spritzing the washer fluid and watching the smudges and grime get swept away. But it isn't. I know my vision is obscured - that I see the world as scary and vindictive and desperately sad. I realize - even as I struggle to believe it - that what I perceive is not reality for anyone but me. I feel sick - the anger and unhappiness virulent. Contagious.

"Sometimes," I confessed to a colleague last week, "I yell at people because others yell at me and I need somewhere to put the anger. Because I'm so tired of it being my fault. Because it's so sad to know I'm failing and to have others not recognize their own flaws and failures. So I tell them."

"Katie," he sighed and I hung my head after nodding.

"I know," I whispered. "I'm not well."

I knew it was coming - tried to feebly bat at the cloud as it surrounded me and even sent Adam a helpless email in warning. But it came and settled. I canceled meetings and avoided others, huddling in bed and waiting for time to pass.

Pass it did and I woke this morning feeling better. The neurochemicals normalized or I moved past some feeling of rejection or sadness or some unknown factor shifted and I felt lighter. I cleaned a little. I walked my dog. I napped because I was tired, not because I needed the break from being painfully conscious. I did some work that seemed impossibly difficult only days ago.

Now I can see again. The internal peace allows me to extend kindness, exhibit patience, slowly allow people back into my life. There's sweet relief and gentle determination to regain ground I lost last week.

But I know the cloud waits. It lingers in the periphery, watching for a moment of weakness - after travel, when the cute boy won't call again, when I'm confused and afraid about the future - and will descend again. And I don't know how to gain additional distance from it - whether to change jobs or stop dating or get a roommate or switch medication.

It's that awful point when I don't feel like dwelling on it while I'm well and I can't handle dealing with it when I'm sick. So what the hell do I do?


Girlpostdoc said...

1. You are not alone. Many, many people feel the same way you do.

2. It sounds like you are already taking care of yourself. I liked your massage and bubble bath idea - worked like a charm.

3. Even if it wasn't chemically based, life ebbs and flows. There are always clouds - but they are not permanent. The biggest part of our suffering comes when we believe that they are permanent. And even when the cloud overstays its welcome, the nature of that cloud changes.

post-doc said...

Thank you - very sweet comment with 3 memorable points.

AliceAcademic said...

Hope that cloud has floated away by the time you read this.

JaneB said...

It doesn't make much sense does it? And if you medicate enough to get rid of the lows, it often takes away the good stuff too... keep going!

suzy pepper said...

What do you do? Talk to someone. Talk to me. I'm glad you're feeling better. I know what it's like to hide under the covers and wait for time to pass.

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