So, here I go, pulling myself up by the fingertips, slowly up the sides of the hole I seem to have been in for many many many months. I'm making no promises as to "what I'll do and when I'll do it by" but as we all know, the journey starts with a single step, and if you never make that step (even if you have to make it several times...) you'll never get to Elrond's Gaff.
So, yeah. (imagine me making an awkward motion here, like rubbing the back of my neck or something-Disney heroes tend to do it a lot when embarrassed) depression. Yeah.
It is not nice.
If you've never had it, thank your lucky stars, pray to whatever being you believe in that you'll never get it and trip happily away, keeping only to the sunny side of the street.
Never understood that phrase in reality until now.
If you have had it, well, you know where I've been. Or am. The jury is still out as to whether I've been let out or not, or whether this is merely day release for good behaviour.
Today, for the first time in - to be frank, I don't even remember, and that's the truth - I feel more like normal than I have for whatever time length was. If you get me. As you can probably tell, I'm not terribly coherent either, which is probably a side-effect of the depression and/or not actually speaking to anyone in real life other than about once a week.
I think I knew I was really ill when I just couldn't write. I don't mean writing fiction, I mean even writing in my journal. Writing Stuff Down has always been a part of my life, diaries were being written when I was a teen (I bet they were gripping reading) and I've usually written a journal in some form or other. So when I couldn't even force myself to open the laptop, or if I had done that, couldn't face opening ANY programme which invited me to exercise the fingers, I kind of knew something was badly wrong.
It's hard to explain, it was (I'm using the past tense in a purely optimistic way) like a phobia. My BRAIN literally shied away from the computer, or at least those involved in communication which meant that I wasn't emailing-hardly even IM-ing (thereby losing touch with so many friends) except when I really worked hard at it, perhaps once a week. I have no idea why my brain was doing this to me - no one's explained it to me, all I got from my doctor was "Here, have some pills" - which will be no surprise to anyone who remembers me talking about my doctor.
I was offered counselling, which I went along to - this year? No, last year (I think). It was "Cognitive Behaviour Therapy" which appears to be encouraging people to do things they used to do to break them out of the rut.
I found a couple of major problems with this. If you are depressed you LOSE INTEREST in doing the things you used to do. I couldn't write - I couldn't even read. I didn't want to go out anywhere, I didn't want to talk to people, doing anything I used to do made me feel ill so how the hell was CBT supposed to help? The other major thing I didn't get was that the course was being run by two guys who had never had depression, so I couldn't see how they could understand one thing my brain was doing.
I skipped week two I'd been told they'd send me the course notes and homework and someone would ring me to talk - but they never did so obviously I never went back. That's all the counselling I was offered - that's all that's available here, evidently. Anything else you have to pay for.
Going out is hard. And remains hard. I wake up every single morning and think to myself: "Do I have to go anywhere today?" (other than taking Sasha out, that's indelible) and if the answer is "No" which is normally is then I feel more relaxed. Even the task of posting a letter is "going somewhere" and is an Expedition. Clothes have to be presentable, cash has to be found, brave face put on etc etc. Going out has become a chore. Consequently I haven't been to see Dad since the summer - and although he no longer knows who I am, the vicious circle of guilt=depression=can't go out=guilt rolls around and around.
What's odd is I can't remember the past two years. Partly because every day has been pretty much the same, I suppose. I hear over and over people saying last year - or the year before? Was the hottest for ages and ages and I have no recollection of that. You'd think I'd remember the heat, but I really can't.
What's helped me get through? In no particular order:
1. Eating healthily (I've been eating clean, low-carb, although I've been drinking a lot so haven't lost any more weight). Learning to eat well and cooking and so on has helped me learn at last how to shop, how to eat normal portions and how to eat 3 times a day. Sounds simple doesn't it? But when you've never done that, just eaten what you like when you like, it's been hard to learn but I know now I have a habit that will last me forever.
2. Friends. Much better friends than I deserve. Elin, Henri and Gehayi, Lee. They've been patient. Never given me any pressure, just continued to stay in touch at my pace and been THERE. Never allowed to completely cut myself off, which I've been trying to do. Thank God for them.
3. Animals. Without the animals I wouldn't get getting up. Or getting up eating and going back to bed. Lili starts shouting at sevenish and doesn't SHUT UP, Lucius comes and sits on me and washes, aggressively, causing me to bounce up and down and as soon as I start to move I get a ton of happy waggy licky staffy-cross bounding all over me. Because of Sasha I have to go out of the house. Every single day, rain or shine and it's very hard to feel down when someone is this happy.
4. Knitting. Most definitely Displacement Behaviour, but I've knitting almost constantly every single day. The house is filling up with hats, scarves mittens and god knows what. I have parcels I should have posted before Christmas (see earlier point about going out) full of knitted stuff and I feel it's really helped. It's stopped me spending ALL of my time playing pointless PC games (not fun stuff like Assassin's Creed, it seems my lust for great adventure games went the same way as my love for reading) but pointless crap like Candy Crush, Molehill and crap like that. But knitting has at least stopped me from doing them too much and has kept my fingers agile.
Long long story short, I feel a little better, and even to say that to myself and to anyone is a huge step forward. I did some housework today (another thing that has been ignored) although don't get excited it was like rubbing an inch of ice off the windscreen the size of The Shard. I need an obsessive compulsive cleaner, but I ain't going to go to Channel Four for one.
We'll see how things go. No promises about "blogging every day" because I've just about filled you in with "my news" for the past 2 years in one blog post. Days of "I'm knitting and had leek soup for lunch" isn't going to amuse anyone. But I'm on the way up. If you look down the rabbit hole you might not be able to see me climbing, but if you shout down, I might be able to hear you.