It’s hard to write about depression. The symptoms keep getting in the way of my words, and for somebody who loves words as I do that is disheartening.
Where to start? Well, I’ve been suffering bouts of depression for years. It can last for a few hours or several days but it is not usually an unrelenting pit of despair. I have spells when I’m feeling, if not exactly “up” then at least neutral. But then I’m back down again.
These days I don’t become inclined to harm myself, although in the past I’ve cut myself and taken handfuls of pills (my body didn’t go along with the plan and I just vomited). Instead I usually seek solitude, which can be easier said than done.
I want to cry but my eyes remain stubbornly dry. I want to curl up in a dark corner and hide from the world. I want to be left alone and I want somebody to just hold me and make me feel safe and protected. I get so tense that I feel as if my muscles are locked in place, yet I have so little energy that I can’t bring myself to stir. I detest the sensations, feeling a lack of sensation. It’s a complex, contradictory, utterly confusing state of mind.
It’s getting to the point where I’m reluctant to relax and enjoy myself because I know that sooner or later I’ll come crashing down again, and the shock of the contrast is like jumping into a cold plunge pool from a sauna. I’m forever waiting, anticipating and expecting the next low point.
Of course there are triggers. Rocky patches in relationships. Anything that causes stress and exhausts me leaves me vulnerable. It’s a common aspect of Aspergers that we have limited physical and mental resources: we tire easily, and that state of exhaustion means that problems quickly become overwhelming.
What can be done about it? The obvious answer would be to avoid becoming so worn out – I might even say burned out – that I can barely function let alone stave off the blues. My particular problem lately is that as the sole carer for my wife, who’s not in good health, I have no respite. There’s no break from it, even if my strong sense of duty and responsibility would allow it.
I missed a couple days of work last week because the depression hit again after becoming exhausted dealing with my wife, who is also feeling great frustration and low spirits because of illness. It doesn’t help that I pick up the echoes of her feelings – who says Aspies don’t have empathy? – but I don’t have the mechanisms to cope with these reflected emotions.
In fact, the night before I had spent two hours or so in the company of a friend and left feeling happy… until I got home and returned to the stressful overload. I’m not coping well at all lately: it’s all getting to be too much of a strain but I’m stubborn as an old mule and I won’t give in until my mind and body call an involuntary time out. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened and a week later I’m still not really over it, still depressed.
There are no silver bullets. There is nobody who can wave a magic wand and fix the problems. Miracles don’t happen (even if, like my wife, you have strong religious beliefs). I don’t believe there is any higher purpose to suffering: adversity doesn’t make you strong. It just grinds you down until you haven’t the strength to even lift your head from the dirt.
The funny thing is that now I’m back at work I can get focused on the job and function normally on the whole, although I’m feeling more tired than usual and it’s taking me longer to get ready in the mornings – I’m not moving so quick. A case of special interest to the rescue, possibly.
Time flows like molasses in winter;
I am caught in its viscous embrace.
Struggling to break free
As a fly in a web,
Waiting for the poisonous attack.
I am a cornered mouse,
Teeth and claws no threat
To the predator stalking me.
The black cat, Nemesis,
Will not be driven off.
To fight an invincible foe,
To cast the die, burn the bridge
And cross the Rubicon; a dream
Wherein I cast off the fetters
And rise, Prometheus unbound.