Depression and Anxiety Time
The last several weeks have been rough for me. My depression and anxiety are higher than usual. And yes, I am blaming the holidays, in part. But I can’t blame my depression and anxiety on the holidays. For me, depression and anxiety never go away. So it doesn’t matter as much what is happening around me. My baseline is depression and anxiety.
That sounds very depressing all by itself. My baseline is depression and anxiety. I mean, jeez, what a complete bummer. But it is true. I have come to realize that about myself. For right now, that is okay. I will not change my entire foundation of being in a few years of therapy.
The holidays amplify my depression and anxiety. I wrote in Surviving the Holidays that part of the holidays being difficult is the pressure of expectations to do ALL THE THINGS with ALL OF THE PEOPLE. That is not my happy place. It never was, and it never will be. But there are other reasons.
But that is also what it is, and I am working on my boundaries around those things. It’s like my brain is like, “let the depression and anxiety blame games begin!”
My Baseline is Depression and Anxiety
I didn’t have much choice in the matter. To be the way I am, to have this thing that hangs around me all the time, my dark cloud. I often wonder what it would be like not to have that constant darkness. Maybe someday I will know.
But for now, especially now, I acknowledge that darkness is my companion this time of year. I mean, it’s there, and ignoring it doesn’t seem to work. So perhaps a polite nod as I go about my day will help to diminish the hold it has on me.
Acknowledgment helps with the old programming in my brain. After all, perhaps it will work with this too. However, to create new programming, I must identify and rewrite the old. Sort of like writing computer code. If only it were as easy as writing code.
The holidays are the hardest time of year for those of us with depression, anxiety and complex PTSD. If you or someone you love is struggling please help them seek out professional help. I engaged in therapy to understand and work through what I could do. And you can too.
I recommend Online-Therapy.* Encouraging therapy is their first step in healing.
Recoding my Brain
I envision miles of cubicles in my brain, programmers hunched over their keyboards, changing the nuances of my life. One moment, a dark cloud hovers above me. The next moment *POOF* sunshine and blue skies. Maybe my brain’s programmers could replace the dark cloud with a friendly cloud shaped like a dog. Or perhaps a unicorn. That would be nice.
But alas, that is not how this works. It is never easy to change an entire lifetime of bad programming. And I wonder, what would my life be without that dark cloud? Then I worry that I don’t want it to go away. That I am keeping it around because it’s familiar. It is the unknown that causes anxiety.
A Moment of Reprieve
Then I remember a time (just once) when I didn’t feel the dark cloud. Since it was a new feeling, I mentioned it to my therapist. She told me that is what thriving feels like. So if I were ever to be addicted to something again, could it be to the feeling of thriving? That seems like a nice place to be.
In some ways, I am already addicted to thriving because I think about returning to that feeling a lot. I remember that day. My soul felt light, if only for a moment. But what a moment!
But no, I still have my baseline depression and anxiety, with the obligatory black cloud. Does that black cloud automatically come with depression and anxiety? Was it a two-for-one sale, and I thought it sounded great? I hope I didn’t pay extra for that. If I did, can I return it? It’s kind of dampening my mood.
The Sea of Depression
What does it mean to have this underlying baseline? What is the best way I can describe this? Okay, imagine I (or yourself) standing on any beach, looking out at the vast horizon. On a calm day, I can see for miles, and there is stillness in the air. Underlying that stillness is tension. It’s like the air itself is electrified. That feeling of an impending storm is my baseline of depression and anxiety on a regular day.
As I stand there, feeling the electric air and watching the horizon, I notice clouds gathering further out. I watch as the storm clouds roll in, the horizon no longer visible, hampered by the oncoming storm. The electric air makes me jittery, like I have too much energy and don’t know what to do with it.
I must prepare! So, I turn my back on that storm and start battening down the hatches within my mind. I have to reinforce my mantras and check for code errors. I must double-check anything I have been using to fight off the darkness and check for code errors.
Calming the Storm
I have a list. I go through each item to ensure I have not forgotten one step. If I forget a step, that’s it. It is all over.
The need to follow each step may be why people with depression and anxiety are prone to OCD. I have created ways of doing things, processes, and procedures to stave off depression and anxiety as best I can.
If I do everything right, I may calm the storm before it unleashes hell upon me. I would like that. How nice would that be?