That old bugaboo snuck up on me again today. I should have known it was coming from the lack of sleep and the feelings of being overwhelmed. In my defense, it was easy to miss, because I actually am overwhelmed with work and have every reason to feel that way. My sinuses were acting up as well, so it was easy to explain away my insomnia to trouble breathing at night.
However, when I was sitting at my desk eating lunch today, I could feel it dripping from my head, into my veins and snake its way throughout my body. I'm enjoying my lunch, reading e-mails and blogs and suddenly have this overwhelming urge to cry. I immediately wonder what I'm upset about as the frustration and sadness rear up and become stronger.
It's then that I recognize the insidious progression, like ice water on a hot day, you can feel it run down your throat and through your chest. Well, I could feel the toxic chemicals creeping through my body, causing me to feel things that were out of place. I wasn't sad. I didn't need to cry, yet I was on the verge of it anyway. Some people, when they think of depression, they think of the outer image of depression, hunched over, sad, crying, etc.
For me, ever since my early 20s, when that outer image starts to form, I pull back, deep inside myself and examine what I'm feeling. I sit still, deep inside myself and examine the progression of the toxic chemicals and wait for their effect.
It starts in the brain. I feel sad, want to cry, feel overwhelmed, forgetful. Then it melts out of the brain and progresses down the spine. My shoulders feel tired, achy, then I take a deep breath and sigh. I feel so tired. It's an effort to breath, to stay awake. Then it progresses to the gut, sometimes I'm hungry, I have to eat, eat to feel better, feel full, feel like I matter. Other times its a feeling of inadequacy, of panic, of not being good enough. I need to hide, to take flight. Then it's down to the legs, sometimes they're heavy, it's an effort just to sit, maybe I should lie down. Maybe I should sleep. Other times, they're antsy, panicked almost. I need to run, hide, something's after me, I'm going toward manic. There's so much to do, not enough time to do it and everyone will be judging me. I need to move.
After sitting inside and feeling the changes in my body as the toxic brain chemicals work their way through, then I go back to my brain and try to re-program the message. I'm not really sad, that's the brain chemicals talking. It's like being on a bad drug, a bad trip. If I just keep breathing and don't do anything stupid, I will get through this.
I tell myself it's okay to take a nap when this happens, if I feel tired and think I might actually sleep. I also tell myself, it's okay to run, to get that manic energy out and do something productive with it, because if I exercise, that changes the brain chemicals too, changes the message I'm receiving and helps put me on the new track emotionally.
So this is what I've been doing for years when the depression hits. My own internal psychotherapy and talking myself past what I feel. I tell myself, none of these feelings are real, and with time, they will pass. I used to be at the mercy of these brain chemicals, I'm not anymore. It's gotten to be so second nature to me to automatically reprogram the message when the depression hits, that sometimes I don't notice when it starts and when I'm reprogramming.
Today I noticed because I was sitting still, my mind was clear and I was able to focus on the feelings as they progressed through my body with the brain chemicals. I think I'm posting this, not because I'm depressed. No, I'm fine and dealing with it has become old hat. I'm posting this to see if anyone else recognizes this when it happens to them and if they deal with it in the same way. I know it's much worse for some people and medication is the only way they can function when it happens, but for me, luckily, I'm managing to control it through willpower and self-examination. How do you deal with it?
What depression feels like