“I knew who I was this morning, but I have changed a few times since then.”
—Alice in Wonderland
There seem to be warning signs: sometimes if you know your own signs, or “symptoms”, then you can learn when you are nearing a place—or you may be actually in the place—that causes you distress. Once we recognize that these signs are active, it is time to reach out for help! We can begin to seek out a trusted close friend, a loved one, a doctor, or a therapist, but this is often times not so easy.
Examples of signs: Some people start needing to sleep more than usual. Eating habits can change, one direction or the other. Some individuals find they are less able to focus, while others just feel an overwhelming sense of the blahs. I think that figuring out your own signs is critically important; without being armed with this knowledge, I have ended up facing much more difficulty than might have been necessary, and without the support which could have made life so much/somewhat easier.
I think my first warning sign of incoming danger is increased irritability. Towards other drivers for being stupid, the weather for being too cold to too hot, my dog for taking too long outside. My other “firsts” include:
And all the while that these are progressing, causing me physical and emotional pain, I am facing the world with a smile, acting like everything is fine. I have even gone into a therapy session, prattled on for at least half an hour before breaking into tears and stating (with some surprise!) “I’m really down.”
Yes, I am an expert at hiding. During these super down times I seem to think that no one else has ever experienced depression before, and I become a consummate artist at faking happiness. The last time this happened, I felt irritated with my spouse for several months until I finally decided that it might be time to give him a break. At that point I was just unable to hide anymore and realized I was in trouble. I’m not talking about being blue, having a rough day, or feeling sad. I’m referring to heading toward down-the-hole, wrestling-with-the-demon, depression. In this pre-state, I can occasionally wash my face, put in my contacts, makeup, pull an outfit together—if I care about the people I’m going out to be with; otherwise, I really just don’t give a shit. And that’s my signal: not caring enough about others or thinking I don’t care—and I don’t mean worrying about how others might judge me, but just that I stop caring enough about those I love cuz I’m so stuck in my own head. Not sure I can really clarify that more…perhaps another time.
A while back I met with a (potential) new psychiatrist for medication management. I liked him: he was totally professional, really knew his meds, knew how to lead a short interview, and spent a good amount of time checking on my current mood. He ended by saying he’d like to see me in a month, to establish a baseline of how I’m doing.
I didn’t even tell him that I might be growing more depressed, managing somehow to pull off this great acting job.
But I don’t think I did. Most likely, hiding is another one of my signals. I’ll have to remember to let him know…if he didn’t figure that out already.
All the best,
I am a social worker and educator; as both, I have always been interested in self-development and spiritual growth. I have worked as a religious school educator for over thirty years, and hope this blog will prove helpful to readers, and myself.