Sometimes my mind is like a magpie, it grabs at anything shiny it can find and hoards it. It fills itself with ritzy bits of paper and scraps of glitter until there is no room for anything else and I am pure joy. Sometimes my mind is like a magpie storing up lovely things, sometimes it is more pigeon than magpie. And a manky pigeon to boot, one of the ones in Leicester Square with one leg, no eyes and half a wing.
I have bipolar affective disorder (type 2). I take medication for it everyday and generally I am fine. More than fine. Oftentimes I am obnoxiously cheerful. Then without warning I will fall down the rabbit hole and become stuck under a dank pile of emotion that I cannot escape. Questions such as ‘shall I eat an egg today?’ and ‘can I go downstairs?’ become unanswerable. I am paralysed by choice and will find myself returning from the supermarket empty-handed as I could not choose which variety of apple to buy. The sheer weight of emotion is staggering, it presses down upon your lungs, pinning you to the ground and leaving you to stagnate.
The answer is always the same. One day at a time. The first step is always a shower. If I can make myself take a shower I know that I can get better. After I have coached myself through showering I focus on food. I need to eat, anything will do as long as I can make myself eat something. Next it is lists. Reasons To Be Resolutely Cheerful comes first. I need three, if I can think of three things to be happy about then I can start to get better. Next is the step I hate the most. Goals. Three goals a day. They are tiny to begin with; stay awake all day, make a proper meal and eat it all, go outside, sit downstairs, tell someone you are sad. Today my goal was to write a paragraph of new material. I am meant to be writing some witty (ok, ridiculous and puerile) short stories but I’m not quite there yet. Funny can be hard to find. But I am writing something and that is an achievement.
Depression can be slow and grating or it can feel like a cartoon anvil falling on you from a twelfth storey window. It can be sudden and it can be devastating. Each time it happens to me the violence of it shocks me. Getting better feels like rebuilding your life from scratch. You have to work the steps, like an alcoholic. It is tiring and it is slow but it will work. In two weeks I will not remember what it feels like to be depressed.
I have written this little blog, not just to fulfil today’s goal (the other two were get through work without crying and sit in a restaurant and eat everything on my plate; did them both like an absolute pro) but to explain to the people who have to put up with me what it is like from my side of the glass. I find it almost impossible to verbalise it at the time and by the time it has passed, ‘well what’s the point in talking about it now?’ says my pragmatic yet unhelpful mind. So this is what it’s like. This is how it feels. Soon I wont remember.
If you know someone who you think might be depressed, ask them. They might not be able to tell you but sometimes it helps to know that someone has noticed that you’re fading away.
I will go back to tweeting about things I have eaten/fallen over/feminism now I swear.