Readers of this blog know that I often get annoyed with the tiredness — sometimes fatigue or lethargy — I feel because of the medications I take to tame my demons. The demons’ names are Anxiety and Depression.
The other day, I decided to look back at the physical manifestations of their presence. What’s the tangible “felt” trade off to not have them around? I know / knew there was no contest, that I would take the tiredness any day. But sometimes it’s worth reminding myself about what things were like before — one great reason for me keeping this blog, I must admit
So here are two physical description of Anxiety that I now only feel periodically — I still deal with Anxiety, just not nearly as much nor as intensely as before. I also have one long description of the physical aspect of Depression.
From “Brick-brain, frayed nerves, and drenched shirts.”
I hate it when Anxiety freezes up my mind. It’s like my brain goes from being a functioning (happy) organ to a brick of cement … frozen, immobilized, in hyper-defense mode, preparing for the world to attack me.
Sometimes the transition from normal-brain to brick-brain is instantaneous. Sometimes it’s more gradual, which is actually pretty scary. Imagine slowly feeling your brain harden from front to back and down to the base of the spine. At the beginning I know what’s happening and doom fills me for what’s coming.
Then my throat clenches up. It’s physically hard to talk. It feels like I am crying, but the tears are pouring fire out of the backs of my eyes.
Then all the nerves from my shoulders up feel like they are frayed at the end.
It is a truly weird, terrifying, and sad place to be.
And here’s a most unfortunate type of Anxiety … gladly one I rarely experience anymore … “A little Anxiety Assessment in prep for a doctor’s visit.”
Excitement shares a lot of muscle memory with Anxiety. When you are excited, your breath can become short, your muscles can tense up, your blood can get churning. Without Anxiety, this is an exhilarating combo of feelings. However, sometimes the Anxiety-prone mind can mistake good body feelings for bad. Before I know it, some happy, excitement-filled moments turn into Anxiety-ridden misfortunes. Once in a while a panic attack hits based on feeling great. This is surreal and saddening. Happiness turning into sadness and nervousness at what seems the flip of a switch.
And here’s a long excerpt regarding Depression — something I haven’t experienced for a long time — “Yesterday, I fell into a black hole.”
In astronomy, a black hole is a region of space-time — the intersection of two dimensions — where / when there is such a strong gravitational pull that nothing — no matter, no light — can escape. Space, time, mater, and light collapse into each other, occupying a “space” that seems far to small for all that has fallen in.
I believe a black hole is a pretty good analogy for a certain level of Depression. And yesterday, I may have fallen into that black hole. Today, for the time being, while still depressed, I have escaped that dark and crushing place.
More about that black hole I fell into — or to be precise — I almost fell into. If I had fallen into the black hole, movement would have been impossible, time would have seemed to have hit a standstill, words would not have been able to escape my mouth, and I would have simply been a mass unable to do anything.
For several hours I was unable to get off the bed. I was starving; I had to go to the bathroom; but the muscles required for going from lying down to walking were not cooperating. This makes it sound as if it was simply a matter of not having the energy to move much. Unfortunately, it’s more complicated.
I felt I not only didn’t have the physical energy to make myself something to eat. I also seemed to lack to intellectual capacity to figure out how to start that process. In my mind, I knew all the steps, but I lacked the ability to string them together as a process my brain had the energy to work through. And while I had some physical desire to eat, I lacked the emotional desire to do anything about that.
Some people, when falling into Depression report a different relationship with time. This has happened to me a few times.
I remember the first time I experienced it. For a few seconds I thought it was trippy-cool. Time slowed down. I was pumping gas into my car and the numbers on the pump seemed to slow down. It seemed odd, so I looked up. Cars seemed to be driving slower. And then I noticed my body was moving slower than I felt right. I said something to my wife. The words were slurred. In my head, they were very slurred. To her, the words just sounded really enunciated, very intentionally said. When the gas was done pumping, I walked to her and dropped the keys in her hand. I had read about this warped perception of time some depressed folks feel. So I just told my wife, “I’m experiencing Depression time (or something to that effect).” I told her I would show her more on the internet later. I also said I felt it wasn’t safe for me to drive.
Within just a couple of minutes I had fallen into a depressive black hole.
Sometimes the Depression is so bad that I feel that my body is collapsing into itself. I feel as if my eyes are barely open, my shoulder (I think) must be at an exaggerated slump, and I feel that my face is contorted into a very painful look.
At times, when my wife is with me, I actually get angry. I think, “Why is she not helping me? I am obviously in a very, very bad place. I must look like I am about to die.”
A few weeks ago this was happening. I had already been experiencing Depression time. She already had the keys and was driving. I felt my body sinking deeper and deeper into the carseat. And I felt like I looked like a monster. I was getting really upset at Rebecca for not reaching out to me. But instead of lashing out, I figured, when we get to the grocery store, I’m going to go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. I want to see how horrible I looked.
And so I did. I was floored by what I saw. There I was in my favorite outfit. I was slim, standing straight. I looked sharp. I just looked tired. Perhaps I looked like I was getting a cold. But that was it. No one …. no one could have had any idea — from my appearance — that I was in hell.
Tiredness compared to those descriptions … as I said … any day!