TL;DR and content warnings: mental health stuff, depression, suicidal thoughts.
I can handle depression. I’ve had fifteen years to figure out what my moods are and how to cope with them, and what works best for any given problem. That’s not fun, but it’s cope-able. I know what to do with it.
What I’m currently struggling to handle is depression + medication.
I’m trying to work out what’s new, and what’s the same. What’s me, and what’s the medication. I’ve got a handle on depression, anxiety and emotion storms: I don’t have a handle on depression that feels like a black hole, anxiety that gives me the nevousness but not the fear, emotion storms that come and go as quickly as a passing cloud.
Medication throws everything I’m used to up in the air, and I have to try to catch it all as it falls.
I’ve still got the thought spirals for anxiety (why do you knead bread? what do we have for dinner? what would happen if there was a solar flare apocalypse and do I need to learn how to make an oven? I should be reading books. I should be working. I should be resting. I’m not sleeping. I need to sleep. I should be working. I have bread flour to use. do you knead it for the gluten or the yeast?) but none of the fear. None of the restlessness. None of the whirlpool. It’s just my brain going THINK THINK THINK without any reason.
I’ve still got the emotion storms, but I can’t feel them build; they’re like a sudden rainstorm from a blue sky, rather than the build-up of thunderheads that they were before. Then, I could see them forming: I could understand the situations and emotions that were going into them, and get myself to safety before I broke down (or just broke). Now, I get a few minutes’ warning and then I just break, crying uncontrollably – and then it’s gone. I’m ok again.
I’ve still got the depression, but it’s got no punch, because all of its feeling has vanished. The black hole that has formed under my ribs is just sucking all my emotions; I can do surface reactions, but I can’t feel anything more. No tug of the heartstrings. No stomach-hurting joy. No gripping sadness either, and no whirlpool of fear, but it’s just sucked…everything.
It’s also given me pretty bad suicidal thoughts; there’s no emotion behind it so I know it’s not actually me, but it’s still pretty frustrating when my brain throws up “oh yeah, kill yourself!” as a solution to small problems. Gee, thanks, brain. That’s not a good solution. Eff off. (I’m fine, by the way – zero intention. I think someone referred to them as “passive thoughts” which is a good way of thinking about it; versus the active intention, which if I ever had I would certainly do more to get help. At the moment I’m just fighting weasels.)
On a random sidenote, I was reading Neil Sharpson’s blog, and he mentions (understandably) freaking out over sudden suicidal thoughts. And I just thought.. well, hey, it’s just another day for me. That’s pretty scary if I look at it from one point of view, but it’s actually also reassuring. I know my brain throws them up, and I know how to deal with it. (Kick the weasels. Hard. It’s not easy or fun but it works.)
I can also understand the thing about the first six months being the most dangerous, because you still have depression but you also have energy. I do still have depression. I can feel it. But I don’t have any of the emotions behind it – and that makes it harder to understand, and to cope with.
But for now: I’m keeping going. I’m holding onto my routine, and my partner, and my friends, and everything around me, and just stepping forward. I’m trusting that if I just keep on a bit longer then everything will start to settle, and everything will start to balance again. I’m trusting that the medication will work and that despite the difficulty, this is going to make me stronger.