I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. After a slow start, spring got into full swing around here. Which means that my annual blog neglect began as I got gloriously dirty in my garden (and that’s not a euphemism).
Gardening is therapeutic for me, and my girls love it too. So we’ve been spending lots of time outside: digging, planting, watering, weeding. It’s been wonderful.
But even when I feel good and things are generally humming along, that haunting feeling is still there in the background. I’m always wondering something, in a place deep inside me that I’d like to ignore but can’t:
When is the depression going to hit me again?
It will. It always comes back. It’s just a matter of time.
And I hate knowing it’s coming. It’s either going to sneak up on me, slowly and insidiously wiggling its way in, almost unnoticed because of its gradual seeping into my consciousness.
Or BAM – it’ll hit me with a force that overwhelms me and makes my mind and soul ache from its blunt force trauma.
I never know how depression is going to show its face to me again.
But I kind of have a feeling it’s oozing its way back into my life now.
I’ve been waking up sad in the morning. My temper has been shorter. And there’s that one nagging symptom of depression that never really goes away for me – and then ramps up when depression comes creeping around again.
It’s the obsessive side of depression.
Not everyone has it, just like not everyone deals with rage. But similar to rage, it’s one of those symptoms people don’t always think about.
In my first bout of depression in college, I was sad and anxious and down – and I also had terrible OCD. I wasn’t a germ-phobe; I was a list maker and a checker.
I couldn’t get through tests because I couldn’t stop checking my work. I was always late because I was checking the lights were off, the stove was off, I had my keys. Over and over and over. I felt like something awful would happen to me or someone I cared about if I didn’t check just one last time.
Today, I understand I was doing this to try to create a sense of control in my life – because my depression was making me feel so out of control.
I’ve haven’t been in that bad of a place with OCD since then. “Checking” is always a part of my life, but in a very average way that lots of harried moms can identify with.
However, the need to check escalates when I’m not feeling good. It’s a warning sign. Lately I can feel the checking obsession coming back. And holy crap, is it annoying me.
I’m checking my lists and my calendar over and over and over, convinced I’m forgetting to do something or that I’m supposed to be somewhere.
I’m easily distracted and have a tough time focusing. I often find myself in a situation where I’m doing too many things at once and none of them are getting done. I’m feeling ramped-up and overwhelmed. And so I keep “checking” to try to get some control over it all.
But unlike when I was in college, I am recognizing what’s going on and taking steps to ease my anxiousness.
It’s hard at this time of year, with so many end-of-school events and activities winding up. But I’m trying to clear my calendar a bit so I’m not rushing from place to place.
I’m saying no to most requests for my time and yes to a very few.
I’m really trying to prioritize my list of to-dos and say to myself, what will *really* happen if I don’t get this done?
I’m trying to get more sleep (with varying degrees of success).
And yes, I’m gardening and doing more yard work because it makes me happy and clears my head.
Will these steps stave off a serious bout of depression? I don’t know. Maybe it’ll only help the annoying checking issue. But at least I’m trying to go at it with a positive mindset.
And whenever that bastard depression makes its presence known, hopefully I’ll be a little more ready than last time.
If you deal with depression, does it come and go for you? Do you try to arm yourself for the next battle in advance, or do you find that really difficult?