I have 45 years of depression and anxiety cycles behind me. I know how they work. I know so well that the knowledge has for years blunted the deeper end of depression.
I go down, triggered by a mixture of sensory hazards; summer heat & brightness for example, memory; an event that has caused problems before is coming up, and too great an accumulation of stress. It happens!
I move to survival mode. I drop some stressors, I change my diet to compensate for heightened sensory sensitivity. I try to protect my physical health, psychosomatic illness can lead to quite serious health damage. I concentrate on the essentials to get my family through. And I develop an obsessive hobby; reading, card games or in the last twenty years electronic games.
The obsession has to be simple & repetitive. It’s like part of my mind becomes closed to me. But what is left must not be allowed time to think. During this time my thoughts are very dark and very self destructive. On balance is my life worth living? Well no, not really I have to factor in a fair bit of religion, self sacrifice and future hope to balance the pain, mental, emotional & physical.
On balance do I benefit my family? On balance I’d have to say no; I am a black spot on the family, I believe they could do better without my presence. However the impact of suicide or even suicidal misadventure would be an overwhelming trauma that balances my baleful presence in their lives.
On balance do I benefit the world? I am a financial parasite on the social security & medical systems. My efforts at good deeds and volunteering don’t make a dent. But I aspire to be better and I am a relatively minor parasite. Basically I am a minus but not a big one.
So I hold on for my family. But my point is I can not let my mind wander over the situation. These equations do not help my mood. So I must be occupied.
While I am down I am volatile; crying one minute, shouting the next. I act less sympathetic while at the same time feeling inadequate to solving the problems of my loved ones. I sleep a lot more. My stress and absence rebounds on the family; my husband gets sick, sleeps whenever I do and self harms. My two eldest do the same. When I go down I take them with me.
To halt this downward spiral I need to drop the latest obsession, get back to schedules and the things that make me feel better. Neurofeedback has created a new higher level of normal, one at which I can actually achieve the things I’ve always dreamed of. Now writing is my go to stress reliever except when I am down.
This is a delicate balancing game. Go to early and the issues knock me down again. But the longer I leave it the more work and damage accumulates. I emerge from my cocoon to relationships some to damaged to resurrect, a build up of correspondence, a disordered house and appointments to make, children’s therapies too reestablish. My mind is tricky; a schedule system that I religiously followed is broken, I can no longer follow the same system.
The reason it is so delicate is because I have absolutely no idea how I am feeling except by guessing based on clues. I am vomiting mid meal; food poisoning, a virus or do I have an unresolved issue with something that was just said. My head hurts; sinusitis, a reaction to the cold, a virus, or depression. I appear to be sobbing uncontrollably & am making unreasonable demands; damn I’m still depressed.
So a couple of months back I approached my psychologist because the neurofeedback wasn’t working, I was anxious & depressed. We considered a new form of therapy, but she suggested we look at my life first.
My life is easy I said, I am unemployed and my husband does most of the housework. All I have to deal with is an undiagnosable (officially) autistic and clinical depressed husband with a tendency to self harm, who faints/fits a minimum of 3 times a day and has other medical issues. 4 autistic daughters all with associated depression & anxiety, all with separate health issues; 2 who faint/fit, all with asthma and allergies, 1 heart condition, I dyslexic & ADD with the autism. My neurotypical mother is battling depression & agoraphobia along with high blood pressure and diabetes. Then there is bureaucracies; medical, educational & funding. An ever changing array of therapists and support staff all with their own ideas & opinions. My health issues including obesity and regular blood sugar lows, low blood pressure, damaged knees and spine, asthma and allergies; ignoring immune system and sensory issues that are part of the autism and psychosomatic disorders including IBS, hemorrhoids, migraine, stress whiplash etc, etc, etc. And the myriad financial problems that arise in a life based on public handouts. My mood is upsetting the pets.
I am no longer looking at alternative therapies. It’s not irrational anxiety; apparently.
But this is not my cycle, I should be on the upswing. I have abandoned 3 obsessional interests and tried to relaunch schedules 5 times in the last few months all leading to relapse and collapse.
My therapist advised reaching out to the family for help. We had a talk last week; they are autistic, they can not change, the stress has resulted in an increase of negative behaviour in the past week. Two were showed some improvement for the next day and then relapsed. My ‘attack’ has caused a negative spiral in my eldest.
I don’t know what is happening. Every time I raise my head I am bludgeoned. This is not my pattern. I don’t know what to do!
N.B. Although entirely accurate, I am not in any danger. I have lived with this a number of years and am continuing to seek answers and support.