Depression Marathon Blog

My photo
Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dichotomy

As I laid awake, exhausted but awake, in bed last night, I had a revelation of sorts. Lying awake for 3 hours lends itself to lots of frivolous brain activity. I wondered how it was this illness, depression, could cause such dichotomous symptoms? For example, my depression often causes me to feel sleepy, unable to keep my eyes open, yet in the next moment, within the same day sometimes, depression might cause me to feel wired and unable to sleep. Isn't that strange?

I thought of more examples. For instance, last night I was sad and tearful, which actually rarely happens. Most of the time, my depression symptoms leave me feeling detached and unable to cry. Yet both instances indicate depression is upon me, my depression.

My depression symptoms may include lethargy and restlessness, carbohydrate cravings and loss of appetite, a need to stay close to home and a need to escape. Sometimes I can't concentrate on anything, but sometimes my ability to concentrate is unaffected. One day I might feel better after socializing, while just being seen in public may be painful the very next day. No wonder this illness is so confounding to so many.

Sometimes my depression doesn't even feel like depression, initially, at least not what most people think of as depression. Several times I've had depressive episodes which began with or were preceded by disorganized, scary, or intrusive thoughts. When I start obsessing about bad things happening to people (or animals) I love, it usually means my mood is on the decline. I've learned this, unfortunately, through experience.

This is a strange illness. There is wide variability of symptoms between individuals, and I think that's one of the things that makes diagnosis difficult and uncertain. What signals clinical depression for one person may mean little to another. But as I understood last night, there's also wide variation in my own symptoms, both between depressive episodes and even within a single episode.

Fortunately(?), 15 years of experience with this illness has taught me a lot. I've learned when I need to be concerned and when I don't. If I recognize symptoms early, sometimes I can make changes, medication, behavioral, or otherwise, and cut off an impending decline. Sometimes the decline happens anyway, but at least I'm not caught off guard. Perhaps knowledge gives me a greater sense of control over this difficult illness.

And maybe that's the point of this post. More knowledge. My symptoms, as dichotomous as they can be, have been charging to the fore lately. I'm still doing what I need to do, but day to day activities have gotten more and more difficult. But I'm still moving forward. I'm dealing as best I can with each symptom as it presents itself, trying to keep them from stacking up and weighing me down. I made it through the day despite very little sleep last night, but hopefully I won't have any more 3-hour-long, middle of the night revelations tonight.

No comments:



.