Moving slowly forward
I am on my way back from the depression. I can’t say I am feeling completely well yet, but I feel a lot better than before. I don’t break down and cry for no apparent reason any more and my negative thinking is almost gone. I don’t spend as much time dwelling on the things I can't do anything about. I have started to trust my brain and my feelings again. I know that when I feel sad it’s only a passing thing, my life will not end and it will not be like this forever. Things will get better in a day or two. I also have more energy and I can enjoy doing things again.
Even though I feel a lot better there are still things I need to be careful about. Things that get me spiralling down again, making me feel worse. I am now in the process of learning my limits and taking them into consideration when I decide what to do in my daily life. I have a psychiatrist that helps me sort my feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations and separate them from each other. By doing so she guides me towards a more resilient me, even though I have to do all the hard work myself. I have my pills to keep the anxiety in check and they also make me fall asleep easily. I have my mindfulness training that helps me live in the moment and not panic when things don’t go my way. I am learning new and exciting things about myself, things I either didn’t know or had forgotten. I see behavioural patterns it myself and as they are now visible I can also start changing them. I don’t have to be a slave under my earlier behaviours and escape patterns.
I am learning to take care of myself. One big revelation was when I realised that I always have been taking care of others. It’s in my nature to try and fix everyone and everything else. This is of course not possible, I can only fix myself. Still I have tried the very best I could to help, breaking myself in the process. Knowing this is a first step towards me stopping to take responsibility for everyone else. I will probably always try to help, but now I think one more time before I give advise or get emotionally attached to someone else’s problems.
In taking care of myself also lies the conservation of my energy. Since I got sick my energy levels have decreased markedly, in the beginning it was a struggle to do simple things like taking a shower or going for a short walk. It rendered me totally exhausted. More than once I found myself a good 20 minute walk from home with no energy to get back. Once home I had to sleep as I was hopelessly tired. It took a long time before my brain started working again. Using it for more than three hours in a row still makes me totally exhausted, my heads starts spinning and I get a sense of fever. If I keep working at this point I get a terrible headache.
Being around people wears me down quickly, even if they are close friends or family. With this lack of energy I have to learn to prioritise what is most important to me, what is worth putting my energy into? How do I choose between all the fun things I want to do? How do I make sure my energy is spent on the most important things? What do I do with the things that might bite me in the future, but I simply can’t waste my energy on now?
Right now I have decided to spend one part of my energy in an attempt to get back to work. My last try did not work out that well, but now I have better tools to handle setbacks. I have a more realistic take on my disease and I know I have to be careful. It’s not about producing, it’s about getting back into the working situation. It’s about finding limits and learning to take breaks, to listen to my body and mind and not just keep going when it’s so much fun. There is no way I can learn to handle the stress and pressure from being back at work if I am not there. I need to learn to use my new tools when I end up in situations that I can’t control. Some would argue that if there is stress at work the workplace should change, but right now I am in no position to change the place I work at. I simply have to find the tools to handle it. I have to accept that there are things I can’t change and I have to learn to deal with that. Again, I can’t fix everything. A big part of the stress also comes from within, I put pressure on myself, and that stress will always be there if I don’t find a way to learn to deal with it. But this is hard, I have to let go of things that I find important and place myself in a state of “I don’t care” to remain sane. This is not ideal, but it’s the best I’ve come up with so far.
Having to limit myself doesn’t apply only to work, it’s the same at home and in the stable with Nemah. My depression made me feel like Nemah and the stable was only duty, something I had to do because I couldn’t really sell Nemah. Now I have found the interest for it again. I love riding, I love being around horses. I love being out in the woods for hours and hours. I have so much fun and I don’t want to stop. And I still have to be careful not to deplete my energy. Even fun things that gives me energy takes my energy away. Everything is a balance. I hate having to limit my time with Nemah, but I also hated being depressed and I never want to go back down that rabbit hole. Never ever! So, I put a limit to the fun and make sure to use the help I can get now and then.
And this is where I am right now, trying to get back to life again. I choose carefully the things I do and don’t do. I try not to get too involved in things that might influence me in a bad way. I try to stay alive and well. I plan my weeks beforehand and make sure there are enough time for rest and relaxation. I make sure I have the time for my mindfulness training. I take care of myself, because no-one else will. I fight my demons the best I can. I ask for help when I need it. I try not to stay strong. I try to accept my sensitivity. And I will beat this. I will be myself again.