A few days of terror.
Several days ago I wrote rambling, grammatically-challenged, mishmash blog post. It was incomprehensible to even me. I leapt from negative self-talk, to worries about a backslide on my mental health, to sharing some feelings about the destructive politics of the day.
I can create plenty of disasters when I’m in a bout with a panic attack-level form of Anxiety and/or, as I feared then, Depression. Add to that my favorite ways to cram as much into a sentence via “—,” “( ),” “…,” “i.e,” and “e.g.,” and, well, the writing may have helped me begin to process what I was feeling, but it had no place on this blog. (So I “trashed” it.)
That said, let me give some of the content a second draft. I want to do this because the post was the first in a long time that I wondered if one of my demons, Depression, was making a comeback after two-year hiatus.
Thankfully, I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Instead, I think I was incredibly sad about a few real things in my life — which will pass — that got compounded by the destructive politics of the day. I realize not everyone breaks into tears over a headline, but the passage of the $1.5 triillion tax cut very likely means that poor folks are going to suffer more than they currently do. Now, as my career — my vocation for over 20 years — has been devoted to alleviating poverty, I think the tears were justified. And the situation, as intense as it was, left an opening for Anxiety to pounce on me in multiple ways and even let Depression show Its ugly face, even if for only a brief time.
First, let me note how for a few days Anxiety scared the bejesus out of me. Readers of this blog know that I tussle with Anxiety often. But the tussles come at me in a handful of ways I am used to. In the felt sense, I’m used to certain physical sensations in my throat (e.g. I feel like I’m being choked) and brain (e.g. I feel like my brain has become a concrete-walled echo chamber intensifying self-pessimism, self-fault, and/or self-doubt).
I obviously hate when this happens to me, but I’m used to it taking place every now-and-then.
But for a few days Anxiety brought back a couple of old haunts. First, while many Anxiety-sufferers are used to sleepless terror, my meds had — hopefully, have — made this almost completely disappear. Well, for a couple of recent nights I had that terror return over some incredibly small issues. Had such issues come my way during the regular, wakeful hours, I would have handled them tout suite.
Most scary, however, was when Anxiety turned the air I was breathing in into an incredibly heavy gas. Imagine breathing in something so heavy that each of your lungs felt like they weighed a ton and they lost any elasticity. It felt as if Anxiety decided to show me what a spiritual possession — if I believed in that — feels like, and It had taken residence in my chest.
Thankfully I have not felt these forms of Anxiety for several days now. Fingers-crossed.
Now, let’s turn to the feared Depression. I don’t think it’s accurate for me to say that all is definitely well. I remain on guard as a visit with my mental health med doctor and my therapist are in the not-too-distant future.
That being said, the trajectory of the past couple months points to me simply being very, very sad about the real things happening in the real world. I know for some that can lead to real, situational Depression. But my meds are supposed to protect me against that as well as chronic Depression. By that I don’t mean that I’m supposed to be happy or numb in the face of real and gloomy issues. It simply means that I am allowed to feel the feelings that healthy brain would feel.
So, I ask myself:
- Should I feel real and prolonged sadness over the loss of my pup, Franco? Absolutely! A healthy brain would.
- Should I feel sadness and anger as politicians steal $1.5 trillion from our shared economy and now explicitly say they will have to use that theft as reason to cut back on safety nets? You better believe it!
- Lastly, should I feel sadness because I have a few personal issues to deal with — as everyone does — but I temporarily felt incapable of even making sense of? Sure. We’re all entitled to those days.
As I have not felt the presence of Depression for several days as well, I’m hopeful.
And I don’t think I’m engaged in Pollyannaish-thinking. (If I am, remember, I’ve got my mental health med doctor and my therapist to talk some sense into me.)
Instead, I think I’ve been justifiably sad. And I hit a breaking point one day that brought me into a tailspin.
For now, I’m feeling better … like I’ve processed what needed processing.
Prone to Hope.