A Not-So-Happy New Year’s Eve

I am always conflicted as to whether or not to blog about being depressed when I’m depressed. I’ve done it plenty of times in the past — like here, here, and here — and never regret it, but I have to talk myself into it. I don’t know why, seeing as one of my small blogging missions is to destigmatize depression. But this requires, of course, some sacrifice of privacy and pride on my part, which I’m sometimes loath to make.

It’s not so much you multitudes (ha!) of readers out there that I don’t know personally (though some of you I feel like I do) whose reactions I’m afraid of. It’s the “real” people in my life who read this. I don’t want them being all worried about me, or doing that “how are you?” thing when they see me, and scrutinizing my every word and action, looking for telltale signs of depression.

Because, the fact is, I can put on a fairly good face when I’m depressed. I may seem subdued or a bit detached. Certainly not as inclined toward smiling and laughing and making brilliantly witty comments  (ha, again. No, but seriously. I can be very funny). But I’m not, like, Eyore or anything.

I just feel like Eyore inside. I am not having nearly as much fun as I usually do. I’d probably rather be at home, watching TV or sleeping. My brain is not working quite as quickly as usual. I can’t really focus or concentrate, and every little task feels like a big, freakin’ headache. I feel like there is something lodged in my brain that I’d like to shake out. The way you can shake water out of your ears after a swim. I am worried that I am saying the wrong thing, and that you’re going to feel hurt or insulted. I will feel guilty afterward.

So, people I know: I’m fine, really. Don’t ask how I am, and don’t ask if there’s anything you can do. You can, however, give me a big “That totally sucks!” or “WTF?”

Because, you know what? I’m pissed. This is the first time I’ve had a depressive episode in over a year. After four periods of major depression in 2008, and a roller coaster in 2009 after being diagnosed with Bipolar II, I finally got on the right med cocktail, made some life changes and got stable by last December. Since then, except for a few teeny, tiny dips (nothing like this), things have been great. I thought I was totally in the clear.

It is, of course, the darkest time of the year, which can’t help matters any. But I think it was my trip to France that really that triggered this. The stimulation and mild high of the trip itself, and the quick time zone shifts, overloaded my circuits. I had a few days of irritability and mild depression when I got back, then seemed to get better. But then, starting the day after Christmas — when we had to leave my parents’ house a day earlier due to the big snowstorm — I dropped off the big cliff, and here I am, stuck. Feeling like Eyore. And really, truly annoyed about it.

And no, there’s nothing wrong. Nothing real that’s making me feel this way. Life is good. Everything is fine. This is just my stupid brain, fritzing.

Interestingly — and rather blessedly — I’m finding that instead of feeling snippy and impatient towards the girls, as I sometimes have in the past when I’m depressed, or just too spent and miserable to do anything at all with them, as I have when I’ve been more severely depressed, I’ve been feeling best when I’m with them.

For some reason, focusing on them, and on playing and interacting with them, is just the right speed. It takes me out of my dumb, sore head. It passes the time. It doesn’t take the mental focus of writing, which is what I do most of the time when I’m not with them. (Although, actually, it’s feeling good to write this.) And I’m comforted by them. Grateful for them. Even when they’re being difficult. Isn’t there something about Alzheimer’s patients responding well to holding puppies or something? Well, this depression sufferer is responding well to cuddling with her kids.

Anyway. I’m going to see my doctor next week and see what he has to say about all this, besides that I probably shouldn’t take five-day trips to Europe in December anymore. But does this mean that my condition is getting worse? That I have to go through the whole medication shuffle again? I don’t have time for this, dammit. I have a book to write. Work to do. Life to enjoy. A new year to celebrate. (I am determined to have a good time tonight, even if I have to pretend. And I’m having a glass of champagne, dammit, even though I shouldn’t.)

Brain chemistry: consider yourself on notice.

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Photo: Mara Brod.

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