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When I Can't See Through Depression's Fog

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When I was working on getting my license, I remember so many warnings about driving in foggy weather. My seasoned driving friends would tell me stories about deer materializing where they weren’t before or seeing another driver with their high beams on — or no lights at all. Fog is dangerous because it can roll in all at once and obliterate visibility in a few minutes. And then you don’t know when you’ll come out of it.

I wish someone had told me about the fog that is sometimes a passenger with a depressive episode. For me, it rolls in with an all-encompassing darkness that descends over my very existence. At first it’s overwhelming, anxiety-inducing. I panic because, oh god not again. I can’t be depressed again. That thought, that fear, doubles the pressure and only causes my exhaustion at a faster rate because I’m trying so hard to pretend it isn’t there. The energy I expend on everyday tasks doubles.

See, that’s the thing with depression fog. For me, it’s difficult to do much of anything. My tasks are prioritized by most necessary first because by the time I get to the fun activities, I no longer have the mental wherewithal or motivation, so I start counting down to when I can go back to bed. Washing the dishes takes a number on my energy, and so does doing homework. So I’m careful about what things I do first. I would like to knit, but I also know I have chapters to read and notes to take. And by the time I’m done with those… rinse, and repeat.

There’s no time limit for depression and the fog that hangs by its side. At least with weather, we have forecasts for when fog will lift. I haven’t had the best of luck making my own forecasts. But eventually — every single time — it does lift. Not all at once, but gradually. One day I actually feel the motivation to get out of bed. On another day I might do my makeup or wear something I wouldn’t normally wear. And then I find myself laughing for real again, and my hobbies are actually fun.

It isn’t easy. I can’t say to another person with bipolar depression that one episode will be any easier than the last because our brains don’t work like that. But, at the end of a long day struggling to see through this fog, struggling to stay awake even though sleep is easier, I have to remind myself it’s lifted before. Even when I thought the fog would consume me from the inside out — it didn’t. So if I could just hold on for one more day, that could be one more day closer to a clearer sky for myself.

I read a quote somewhere with an unnamed author, but it said, “So far, you’ve survived 100 percent of your worst days. So give yourself some credit.”

And so, I continue. And I have faith the weather will change.

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Originally published: October 30, 2016
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