Today ended up being a bit of fizzer. I missed an appointment with an occupational therapist from the pain management unit. Not that I think she can do much but I’m willing to try anything for some relief from the chronic pain. And tonight I missed going to the women’s aspergers group.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m going down with Rose’s throat infection (I think I am), or because of a killer toothache I’ve been too scared for the last week to call the dentist about, or if it’s just because my back and knee pain is out of control from the combination of work and the sudden cold snap, but I realised the last few days I’ve been sliding down emotionally.
I wouldn’t call it depression. It’s not that severe. But it’s left me feeling constantly tired, not wanting to leave the house, not wanting to cook or do anything except curl up in bed.
I know everyone, even those who don’t suffer from depression, have bad weeks where they feel out of sorts and a bit down. My worry though is always “is this the start of another episode of major depression” when it happens. I hope and pray it’s not.
I really don’t think it is. I think it’s just the pain and exhaustion catching up with me and a few days rest would fix it, but when you have two kids and work, who has time to rest?
I know it’s not depression (yet). On a scale of 1-10 where 1 is severely depressed, 10 is normal, 4 moderately depressed, 7 mildly depressed, I’d still say I was at an 8. Not “normal” (whatever that means) but certainly not to the level of needing anything other than a good night’s sleep.
But that brings me to the question of when should a person seek help? I’ve met lots of people who clog up the acute mental health system when they are at an 8 or even 9. I’d say the majority of people I’ve met in the hospital system are no worse than a 5 or 6. My own experience is I don’t even approach my GP or psych until I’m 3 and even then I don’t share how bad I feel. Even when I’ve been at a 1 earlier this year, I refused to approach hospital, only going when threatened with the choice of going voluntary to a private hospital or being forced involuntarily to one of the worst hospitals in Australia.
I know I shouldn’t leave it until I’m that unwell to ask for help and even then downplay how bad things really are, but that’s the problem with having PTSD from being abused by the mental health system. The more depressed I get, the worse my PTSD gets, the more afraid of professionals I get and the less I can actually ask for help.
Even though I’m okay now (the last few days being down is still within the normal range of emotions and not “depression”), it terrifies me what will happen if I get depressed again. That is why I hate down days like today so much. Even though it’s not an episode of depression, it gives me a reminder that I can (and pretty much guaranteed) will have more episodes of severe depression in the future which brings out all my fears about not getting help.
I have no thoughts of self harm and suicide at all at the moment. Have rarely had them at all since the higher dose of cymbalta kicked in and haven’t had any of these thoughts for a few weeks now. But I know how bad they get when I am depressed and how hard it is to fight them. And when I am well, I know I don’t want to die which is why getting depressed again scares me so much. I know the only reason I am still alive today is because of miracles. I am scared the next time I get depressed, I will give in again to the bad thoughts I get in my head, and that I will be all out of miracles. I want to see my children grow up, I want to grow old with my husband who I love dearly, but when I get depressed, the crushing emotional pain takes over and I cannot think straight. It’s like a dark fog takes over my brain – like a powerful force takes over my brain while the real me is pushed into the corner and can only watch but not act.
During my worst depressive episode, I actually began to hear voices tormenting me. They are “internal” voices, ones I heard inside of my head. I differentiate them from “external” voices I hear with my ears, something I had happen three times during my most severe episode, although the external voices I heard were positive ones. The internal voices I heard in my head during my most severe episode used to taunt me terribly. Telling me to kill myself, repeating all the horrible things people in my life had said to me, constantly putting me down.
During the episode I suffered from August last year to June this year, it wasn’t voices but images. They were like flashbacks (something I have suffered from since 2003) except they were images of things that hadn’t happened. Horrible images of ways to hurt myself or kill myself that even closing my eyes wouldn’t block them out. Even though logically I know they come from an ill part of my brain, when they happen, it feels like something that is separate to the “real me” and is being pushed into my brain.
I totally understand why so many people who struggle with bipolar feel like they are going “crazy”. We’re not crazy at all, but our mind plays such awful tricks on us when we’re not well, that we are left questioning our sanity.
Well this post ended up going a lot deeper than I planned it to.
All I really wanted to say was I’ve been feeling a tiny bit down today, I don’t think I’m getting depressed again, but it’s a trigger for my PTSD fears of getting depressed again and my fear of where depression leads me (fear of being mistreated yet again, and fear of killing myself). I’m sure I will feel better in a few days but I just wish I could shake off my fears.