Before today I felt like I was on an upswing and I wanted to make the most of it. In the past I’ve thought it was the depression going away completely and wanted to move forward as though the depressive episode had never happened. I’ve learned the hard way that such an attitude only makes it harder to cope when the more severe symptoms come back.
It’s hard to say whether this is a remission of symptoms due to natural course of the illness or perhaps interventions … or just a temporary improvement because of the holidays. Banji was staying at her parents house, which enabled us to spend a good amount of quality time together. Fox and I have spent most of the past couple weeks socializing with loved ones. We had two holiday parties with friends, the first of which was a successful reunion of my closest friends from undergrad. It was so wonderful to relax and have fun with them. I felt fully myself, like the depression was gone.
That thought process is quite interesting actually because to my knowledge I’ve never been free from depression, so how can the depression being gone mean I’m more myself? If anything I’d be less myself! Whether I like it or not, my psychiatric disorder influences my thoughts, emotions, and perceptions; it helps shape my experiences and how I respond to them – arguably even my personality. If I didn’t have anxious depression, I would be a different person entirely.
What I really mean to say is that I had a refreshing reprieve from the symptoms; this allowed me to express myself, experience what was going on around me, and act unhindered by the impairments I’ve become accustomed to since my symptoms have been more severe. It reminded me of other times when my symptoms have been less severe; of course I want those times to be the norm, the “real” me!
The truth is, whether I’m currently struggling with depression and anxiety symptoms or not, I’m always the real me. As tempting as it may be to turn my back on 2013 and move forward as though it never happened, deciding to do so wouldn’t make the events, my responses, or the effects they had on me any less real. If I can own them, then I can learn from them, living in the present to influence the future to be more like what I want it to be.
I’ve been very sad today because Banji went home, so I have to cope with the reality that we can’t hang out whenever we want (we have to plan ahead and drive 5 hours each way) and we’ve both changed since undergrad. It’s been making it harder for me to be hopeful for the future and feel like there’s any point to trying to be healthy, apply for jobs, declutter, etc.
Today I cuddled with Fox, watched The Muppet Christmas Carol and Star Trek: Voyager, and tracked what I ate on Sparkpeople. Tomorrow I need to go out and deal with bureaucracy so my legal name change can actually occur.
My goals for this week are to update my resume, apply for at least one job (there’s a good one on campus that I’m qualified for), and exercise for at least 10 minutes on 3 of the 7 days. I’d also like to spend several hours of at least one day with a friend or two – because I’ve learned that I feel a lot happier and healthier when I do so.
Having these goals doesn’t mean I won’t experience symptoms that make it harder to accomplish them. If I struggle with those symptoms, I’ll still be the same person with the same goals. This illness may be part of me, but it’s not the only thing that defines me. Remembering this is the resolution I’m going to make for 2014.