16 August 2013

The Depression of "Manic~Depression"

It seems like there isn't much that I can say that isn't intensely personal right now, but I feel I let that interfere with my writing and other activities.  In the past, when I would feel that I couldn't get out of my own head or events in my personal life; well, then I'd withdraw from most of my interactions with acquaintances, groups, and public activities; for fear that I'd alienate folks by saying the wrong things or focusing too much on personal stuff while in the company of folks who might find that inappropriate.  My filters begin to slip or simply vanish and then I say and do things that I later wish I had not said or done.  So the way I dealt with that was to withdraw for a time.

Some consider that isolation.  But I think that it can be a smart thing to do.  Sometimes, personal reflection, rest for the mind and body, is just the thing.  This type of behaviour can be restorative, healthy.  Withdrawing becomes problematic, or isolative, when it contributes to life's malfunctions instead of helping to solve those troubles. 

For instance, about ten years ago, I discovered that I sometimes needed complete peace from interactions with the outside world.  At that time, I found the phone to be particularly irritating.  It was an insistent interruption and would bring the outside social world right into my own peaceful place that was my sanctuary from invasive chaos.  I was experiencing heightened anxiety and would have panic attacks in public places often.  There were triggers that would startle me into losing my shit quickly and with a frightening intensity that seemed to never quite abate completely.  One of those triggers was a ringing telephone; so I silenced the ringer on my land line {I had no cell} and would periodically check caller id or the messages if needed.  My friends and family knew to leave a message if they wanted a return call.  Cuz really, I lived by myself, was not responsible for anyone but myself, and what sort of emergency was any one going to have that would require my immediate response?  Really?  Absolutely none.

So for five years, I didn't use the phone, wouldn't take incoming calls, and rarely made outgoing ones.  At first, that was fine, it was what I needed.  But then others began to worry because they felt that I was isolating myself.  I can see from their perspective, and in our society, at this time, yes, it probably was a bit excessive.

But then I rejoined the world at large.  Or rather, my community.  I met a wonderful man who become my husband within a year.  I began to get involved with several smaller groups, a few who met monthly or even less frequently.  I was careful not to commit to any obligations that would overwhelm me.  I was gingerly moving; but still, it was forward movement.  And that, my friends, is something.

I've made lots of progress over the past decade.  But then there are times where something so completely blindsides me, that I don't just have a set~back...I seem to fall to my knees, die a cutting death with great agony, and sink into the mucky mire of dreaded despair.  Then I want to retreat.  I need to retreat.  I crave that retreat so totally, it scares me.

Here's the thing:  when I feel this way, I feel like I will always feel this way.  Even tho I know that I won't.  It feels like I will.  And that feeling swallows me whole and with such relish that I cower in corners, under covers, shutting out the world.  Or at least I think I want to cower in corners, under covers, and shut out the world.

But I don't.

Cuz to do so, would be too easy.  It would lead me too easily into isolation, an unhealthy dark dank place that deadens me and scares my loved ones.  And that is what depression is like for me.


  1. Debra, I feel the same way. I think that is how depression works: you are constantly in a fragile place, even when you think you are not. This morning I had a setback. I'm angry now, but my mind has a familiar cloud that I recognize as a beginning of my despair. I think anger covers it and transposes responsibility for my pain onto some other person since I hate the thought of depression without rationale, I guess. Anyway, thanks for sharing your most intimate observations about yourself. It helps more than you know.

  2. And always remember - I can take it, shake it off and ALWAYS be there for you.

  3. oh man, i feel like that sometimes...i cant retreat from it all, someone always needed my help, my attention..very stressful when you cant just close the door and not hear anyone, any questions, any loud voices complaining..what kills me is guilt, day in and out the overwhelming feeling of guilt and regret...
    depression is horrendous, lots of people simply do NOT!!! understand it...


Thanks for taking the time and effort to let your thoughts be known!