It was my birthday last week. I wasn’t in a good place. I had had one of those months where my hormones play havoc with my state of mind, but it dragged on longer than usual.
I found myself lying there debating if I was depressed. I mean, yes. I was feeling depressed, sad, low. But was this just a blip, albeit a longer one than usual, or was this a return of my old foe. Or – was it a perfectly reasonable reaction to *waves arms frantically at everything* I mean, the world is on fire. The weather was miserable – August – torrential rain, great. And where I live we are always on edge with the threat of floods. The pandemic trundles on an has amplified horrific ideological divisions. Racism, homophobia, transphobia all seem to be becoming much more openly expressed. It bothers and frightens me. My physical health is wobbly. I’m tired and achy and worried.
So is it understandable to feel rubbish? Of course it is. It may well be a perfectly natural human response to difficult times and challenges. But it’s not nice. Nor is it helpful. In that state I am not enjoying life but I am also robbed of any ability to do anything to change all of those circumstances which I am well within my rights to be distressed about.
So I ask myself, was I depressed?
Low mood ✔
Tiredness / lack of energy ✔
Loss of interest in things I would usually enjoy ✔
Check, check, check.
I kept trying to think of something to do for my birthday. It felt like such a chore. I knew my husband wanted to do something nice for me but I couldn’t think of anything that felt worth doing. That wasn’t also attached to feelings of anxiety or guilt.
Add to that increasing thoughts of death, urges to hurt myself, lack of appetite but comfort eating, aches and pains, lack of confidence, inability to make decisions, concentrate, etc, etc.
Birthdays are hard too. The pressure of them. The reminder that things have changed. Once upon a time I was the queen of birthdays – I loved them and gathered my friends around me for lengthy celebrations. Now they are a reminder of how friendships drift as we age and our lives change, and also, sadly, a time when the absence of those no longer with us is much more keenly felt.
This blip was longer than most. Usually I have a few days feeling like this before my period, and it quickly disipates. As I near menopause I am keeping an eye on how my mood changes. For whatever reason this lasted longer. I got to the point of considering going back to the doctor. Though I’m not sure what I would ask them – given my history with anti-depressants. Instead I thought to myself – am I practicing what I preach? Have I let my good habits slide? Probably.
Luckily – the days after my birthday brought a return to clearer mind – the clouds rolled back a little both metaphorically and literally. But I’m not complacent. My recovery, is one of constant vigilence. Because my depression is like a weed, those thoughts take hold and grow and get into every crack. But luckily I know how to spot the first shoots, and rip them up at the roots.
Come and learn how to spot signs and symptoms of mental ill health in yourself and others – and how to support people through difficult times – places available on my Online Mental Health First Aid Courses – contact me if you are eligible for a discount.