I have depression. I’m actually– Bipolar II = the kind that mostly stays depressed. Right now, I’m stable on my medicine. It took over 2 years to come up with a good combination for me with this doctor. I had already been trying with other doctors for 12 years.
I keep track of my moods daily using moodscope.com. Using a system of 20 different emotions for rating, the result is a score between 0 – 100. When I am stable on my meds and there are no problems going on… I stay most days in the 70’s. That’s higher than many of my non-depressed friends. If I go off my meds for 2 days or there is a major disagreement with someone, or a financial problem I go down into the 40’s. If I am off my meds for 2 weeks or a month I will plummet to single digits.
Since I mostly stay in the range of 70s, it is hard for many people in my life to take my depression seriously. Distant relatives have not seen me off my meds in years. With friends, or where I volunteer, or when it comes to church, I just make up an excuse and skip out for a while. Popular excuses that depressed people use include:
I have a migraine
I’m not feeling well today.
Most people don’t see me skip 10 days in a row of showering. Nor do they see me stay in bed for up to 18 hours. Even when it comes to volunteering somedays I get there, but, the other 21 hours that day are spent in bed. I don’t feel like I can explain chemical depression to others. Because on any given swing down, there might not be ANYTHING wrong in my life…yet I cry, can’t function, and have thoughts that need serious help. But there is NOTHING wrong.
I have had 2 people over my life that I could share my depression with and they would encourage me to do something they knew I could handle. They knew because they got it. They, too, have depression or bipolar disorder. The one in my life these days is my adult son. He notices the slightest move down the scale in my moods. He will tell me repeatedly to go for a walk, even a short one around the block. “Just go around the block.” But he knows once I do that I probably will walk a bit more because it helps to get out of the house. The only problem is making myself get out in the first place. He also encourages me to go to the library. It is a ½ mile walk there so I get a walk in as well. Also, I LOVE libraries, so my mood will lift a bit just going. He encourages me to keep my commitments to volunteer, help a friend, or go to Sunday School. I hate when he does this because when I am low the last thing I want is to be around anyone or even out of my room. But so far, every time I have followed thru with his advice, I have felt better even if only once I got home. Sometimes knowing I accomplished something can help lift my mood.
I have had friends that just listened to me and my troubles with my mood. I felt like I was heard but I didn’t feel any better. I have had friends who joined in the conversation with me about how miserable their lives were too. That didn’t help. All this “venting” just keeps stirring up the negative emotions.
For me, what I need is someone that hears me, understands, then can get me to do something—ANYTHING—so that I will feel even the least bit better. What we focus on increases. If I focus on staying in bed, and my misery…I will keep feeling miserable and worse as the days go on. If I focus on doing just one small task. I can feel accomplished, feel proud that I was able to do something. It may not pull me out of the blues right then…but every small act can lead to another and help me re-build my equilibrium.
So, do you have someone in your corner? If so, who is it? If not – why not? Start thinking of someone you could trust. Someone that understands and wants the best for you. An encourager not a person who will push, shove, or make demands of you. Who could you ask?
There are also other options when family and friends just don’t get it. You could get a therapist in person or online/ by phone. You could join a support group in person / or online. And, of course there are the national hotlines when things get to be at their worst.
Who is in your corner? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear about your story.
Until next time…