Today I felt hopeless again. I always think I’m ‘recovered’ from depression, then I have a day like today. I’m reminded of all the subtle symptoms that are lingering in the background. The ones I’ve either had so long that I forgot they were symptoms, or I’ve learned to manage so well that I forgot they were there. But they are! (Depression doesnt want me to forget that!)
It can come on so sudden! Yesterday, I had even thought about doing something new and big that would really challenge my OCD.
Then today was filled with 50 ‘I can’t even’s. There was mood swings like you wouldn’t believe. I cried for over an hour until I finally just fell asleep. At one point I even got so angry that I threw things! I had the whole day for homework and I really only got about an hour of work done because I couldn’t concentrate. I was so overwhelmed with the few events I have on this week that I felt ‘paralyzed’.
I can relate all of that to just a bad day with depression, yet, I still feel so embarrassed by all of it for several reasons:
1) This is out of character
2) Even when I recognize that I’m feeling like this -I can’t control it
3) I did some of the things that help but they didn’t work right away
4) No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t control it
5) Not only couldn’t I control it-but I also couldn’t hide it (for some reason I still feel the need to hide my negative emotions)
Anyone who lives with mental illness knows how treacherous the path to wellness can be. It’s rarely linear. There are ups and downs, potholes and slippery surfaces, all just waiting to trip us up. Living in this precarious state of semi-recovery is exhausting. The fear of relapse casts its shadow over every single day, and when your mood dips, it can be extremely difficult to keep things in perspective.
I’ve had a pretty rough past with my mental health and I’m terrified of ending up in hospital again. So, when I wake up in the morning and realize I’m feeling less than brilliant, it’s hard not to fear the worst.
I run through a mental checklist of what might be the problem. Did I forget part of my routine? Did I sleep badly because I had a lot of seizures? Is it the time of the month? Am I stressed about school? I’m desperate to find a logical reason for my low mood. But often, I can’t put my finger on anything concrete, and I begin to panic that I’m at the beginning of a downward spiral.
I start to analyse my own thoughts. Just how bad is it? Will I feel better if I get up, have a shower, get on with some work? Or does even getting off the couch seem impossible? I’ve learnt from experience that my mental health can go downhill frighteningly quickly, so perhaps it’s no surprise that bad days in depression recovery fill me with dread. My anxiety levels escalate, and thoughts of self-harm and even suicide can become overwhelming.
Sometimes, I’m able to see a bad day for what it is: a temporary blip, to be expected in mental health recovery, and not a major setback.
I know what sort of things I can do to stop it spiraling out of control, and I actually do them: I draw, play with my dog, or make plans with a friend.
But at other times, I’m just plain scared. I convince myself that I’m relapsing, and nothing I can do can make it any better.
I know I should get a bit of exercise or tell someone how I’m feeling, but I can’t. I’m paralyzed by the fear. I don’t want to worry anyone or be a burden on them, so I keep it to myself.
‘I’m just tired,’ I say, if anyone asks what’s up. And it’s true. I’m tired of living with this hateful illness. I’m tired of being such a needy, negative person. I’m tired of never having any confidence in my mental state.
On top of that, sometimes I really am just tired. It’s hard, even for me, to know what’s really going on.
When you’ve lived through the experience of a mental breakdown – especially one that happened quickly and unexpectedly – it’s hard to escape the knowledge that your illness could come back and overwhelm you with terrifying speed.
I wish I was better at taking each day as it comes, and being able to see all bad days as just that: an isolated occurrence, not an indication that things are going horribly wrong again.
But I can’t. Will I always dread bad days in depression recovery and fear the worst, or will I eventually learn to live one day at a time, confident that setbacks are just minor blips? I don’t know. I hope that as time passes, I’ll become better at keeping a sense of perspective.
But today is a bad day, and it’s hard not to be scared.
Tomorrow, I am going to wake up, and start again praying this:
- Isaiah 43:18-9 ESV
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
- Isaiah 65:17 NIV
See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
- Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV
- The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
- Ezekiel 11:18-19 ESV
And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
- Ezekiel 36:26 ESV
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
- Romans 6:3-4 NIV
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
- Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
- Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- Colossians 3:9-10 NIV
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
- 1 Peter 1:3 ESV
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
- Revelation 21:4-5 ESV
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
*EDIT: I am not suicidal. I’m completely safe. I’m just raising awareness that there are still bad days in recovery (and I am still recovering). This was just one of those days. It will pass. Thank you for your continued prayers.