It's been a tough week. Since I admitted to the world that I suffer from long-term depression, I had been doing pretty well. Regular exercise, a renewed focus on nutrition and filling my time with some work that had me excited and feeling positive led me to cautiously believe that I had taken the first tentative steps to recovery.
I can only describe it as playing a mental game of snakes and ladders. I feel like after putting in all that effort of climbing a small ladder I've gone and slipped down a particularly long snake and am back exactly where I started.
I'm going to attempt to describe to you how I've been suffering this week, but like people with my condition, I find it intensely difficult to put into words exactly how difficult life with depression can be.
For 3 whole days I barely made it out of bed. Not through sheer laziness or lack of anything to do, but through a debilitating lack of energy, occasionally bordering on paralysis. Even the simple, mundane tasks of going to the bathroom, or heading to the kitchen to forage for something to eat felt like herculean tasks that required energy I simple didn't have. Imagine, if you can, waking up one day to find that, whilst you'd be sleeping, someone had sneaked into your room and encased your entire body in concrete.
I'm a fairly fit guy, I think nothing of cycling 100+ miles or running a half marathon and regularly do both, but when I'm at my worst, as I was these past few days, there is nothing I can do to move my body. There is nothing physically wrong with my body, it's a problem with my mind, that is so strong, it has the power to render me unable to move, paralysed by my mind. My words can't possibly tell you how scary this feels.
Alongside this physical paralysis come wave after wave of fear, frustration, hatred, anger and loneliness. The fear that I've never be able to leave my bed again, the frustration of not being able to move my body properly, a deep seated hatred of myself, my disease and everything that I am, an, unfair, anger at those around me for not giving me what I need, despite me never asking for help or telling them how they can help me and finally, the most persistent and deep seated emotion of all, that I will always be alone, forever, until the day I die.
My vision becomes blurred and I find it hard to focus. I become almost amusing clumsy, stumbling around like a drunkard trying to prove to his friends he's completely sober and as for memory... What I was going on about? Oh yes.
When I'm in the secure grips of depression I lash out at those around me, the closest to me often getting the sharpest of my barbs. It becomes a self fulfilling paradox, a whirlpool of despair from which there is no seeming escape where I push people away from me, thus exacerbating my loneliness, stuff my face with nutrient empty junk foods, depleting my body of the food it needs to lift the darkness and worst of all, the frustration leads to anger and hatred towards myself, and we all know what Yoda said about anger and hatred. Thankfully I have learned that physical self harm, a term I personally despise but for I'll use it here for the understanding of you, the reader, is a path that is not to be followed. I used to do it, before I learned that smashing physical objects results in the same temporary feeling of release, as well as being a call for help. Now, it manifests itself in a more perverse way. I have followed a plant based diet for the past 17years, knowing that steering clear of animal based products is not only better for my physical and mental health, it is also far less damaging. Yet, during my darkest periods, I deliberately go against everything I have taught myself about nutrition and seek out foods that are decidedly harmful to my body. Thankfully, although I work in the alcohol industry, it is not my crutch and I can largely control my consumption.
The darkness has lifted enough for me to get out of bed and write this post. I even managed to go for a run today, exercise seemingly my only escape from my fractured mind and I, once again, begin the slow and tentative steps towards returning to a normally functioning human. But I'm scared, deeply scared, that it could all come crashing down again at any moment and drop me back in the black whirlpool from which I struggle to emerge.