Why Getting Better From Depression Is Making Me Feel Worse
It’s been a while since I’ve smiled from feeling and not from habit. I hear or see something that makes me feel genuinely happy and warm, and appreciative of being alive in that moment. It’s been a really long time since I’ve felt happy to be alive. I can get out of bed without too much of a hassle and face the day knowing I’m strong enough to live today and can make the best of it. I take my medication around the same time every day and I attend therapy every other week. I have more energy in the morning and early afternoon — I can actually get things done. I still feel overwhelmed from time to time, but I’ve learned to manage it and give myself credit where it is deserved. I’m finally starting to live for myself.
But, it’s not all sunshine and daisies. With the heightened energy and positive feelings I’m experiencing because of my increased medication dosage, I also experience more intense moments of depression and fatigue. Between the hours of 4 and 7 p.m. (what I refer to as my “funk hours”), it’s like a giant weight has suddenly forced itself onto me and I can’t move or think or breathe. I have no control. Nearly all of my energy is depleted, I get a headache, I feel numb and hopeless and sometimes I think about hurting myself. I don’t feel like doing anything — house chores, reading, writing, eating, etc. It’s like all the bad feelings and thoughts I ever had before I started taking medication and going to therapy have quadrupled in severity. And there’s nothing I can do about it, but wait for it to pass. I lie down and try to sleep it off if I can, but that’s not always the case.
Since I’ve started feeling more productive and enthusiastic about doing things, the fall from my high feels so much greater. I feel even worse during my funk hours because I know I’m capable of living now. I feel practically unstoppable most hours of the day, so I should be able to shake off this blanket of dread and despair, shouldn’t I? I should know what kinds of coping mechanisms will help me feel better, and be able to do them without any problems or hesitation — or maybe I was wrong. Maybe I’m really not feeling any better, and my mind is just trying to trick me into thinking I am. Why can’t I just go back to how I was feeling earlier?
The better I feel, the more painful it is to fall back down again. But when I get back up and the funk hours are over, it feels as if nothing even happened. I can go back to being productive and hopeful and looking forward to the rest of the week — the rest of my life. I can write again, make plans, clean out the drawer that’s been mocking me all week, and go on living my life. But those couple funk hours, man — they can really break me down. It’s like this beast has been waiting all day to beat me up, and then when it’s released, there’s no mercy as it pummels me again and again with suicidal thoughts and anxiety. During these hours, time is both my enemy and my salvation.
I’m taking it day by day. I work on my writing and my volunteer work, and I try to clean or organize something around my house and do things for my family every day. I try not to let my depression and anxiety take over my life again, but some moments are more difficult than others. It helps to think about how much better I am now than I was last year or the years before. And I try to use my funk hours to my advantage — practicing coping mechanisms, breathing exercises, journaling, etc. I’m still fighting this lifelong battle.
I haven’t surrendered to my demons. And I have the deepest hope in me that I never will.
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Thinkstock photo via betyarlaca