Post-holiday blues?

Saw this frustrated rhetorical question tweeted earlier – “Is it the law that after a great away break everyone must return home and be super-argumentative?” and having agreed wholeheartedly with the sentiment, I wonder if there’s more to it than that.

Part of my post-holiday internet binge brought me to the blog of my friend Elizabeth, who posted a brave response to last week’s Finish the Sentence Friday prompt “I wasn’t myself when…” and it rattled me.

Really rattled me.

Because as I read, a deeply buried part of me twisted, went cold and clawed its way back to life. It has since been gnawing blackly at the insides of my mind, squirming through my gut and has managed to lose me my one fallback – my sense of humour.

The one defense I’ve consistently used against life since learning how to at a too-young age.

The stalwart champion of poking fun at a situation and diffusing it, of Not Being a Whiner and managing to bluster a way through the challenges. Gone.

It’s even been working lately, to judge by feedback – I’ve entertained, kept things light, been complimented on having managed to pull the blog from a self-indulgent, whingey place to something much more readable, and I kinda hate that I’m going back into full-on self-indulgent-whinge mode, but hey, it’s my corner of the internet, writing helps and y’all have the power of the little red ‘x’ if you get bored halfway through.

Cos here’s the thing I might’ve only just worked out about depression – I’m not sure it ever really leaves you.

It’s quashable, sure. Hard work, mighty effort, a good therapist and the right chemicals are all great weapons in beating it back and giving you weeks, months or even years without it, but it seems that the black dog will only lie dormant for so long before waking for another round.

I’m not even sure I can blame the slew of troubles which have struck at my family and I over the past few years – relentless tumbling from one tidal wave of challenge to another – family breakdown; sickness; unemployment; penury; mental health problems; miscarriage; infertility diagnosis; the stark unlikeliness that we’ll be accepted as potential adopters; yet more ill health…it seems like a massive list, each denoting the tip of an iceberg of impact and yet the more I get to know of the world and of the people in it, it seems that everyone’s* life is much the same – struggling from one disaster to the next, trying to hold it all together, spinning too many plates to sustain and desperately aiming to not drop all the balls at once.

So if not that, then what?

Stress? Could be. But it feels more. It feels deeper. Something I’ve long recognised as a part of where my psyche lives.

It feels like depression.

And that scares me.

Because ‘that place’ is truly terrifying and I really, really cannot begin to convey how much I don’t want to go back there.

I called it home for too long. I fought to leave, and now I feel as though a doorway back just opened up inside me and is beckoning with an un-disobeyable authority.

It chills my soul to think that the way back is so easy. That something so relatively innocuous could herald the sudden appearance the slippery slope back down to that isolation. To that feeling of being under glass – ever amidst but never connected with anyone – the ultimate alienation (then compounded by the fear that, while I reject myself as worthwhile, everyone else surely has greater reason so to do, and remove myself further, imagining their revulsion).

Those lies which drip like tar into my ears, clogging them to any attempts to assuage, deny or otherwise rebuff the ‘new truths’ of vileness, stupidity, ineptness, worthlessness, undeserving.

The hateful, weak way I let it undermine me continually, getting too wrapped up in self-pity and hopelessness to fight it. The way it becomes a sick form of self-indulgence. The way it alters my settings to ‘self-destruct’, ‘harm others’ and ‘fuck you’. The way I don’t really care.

The way the longer that door stays open, the more the numbness spreads and the stronger the siren song becomes to give in and let it take me.

The way I don’t remember how to close the door.

The way the door still feels a lot like home.

*It can’t be everyone can it? There must be a few people out there with charmed lives? Or more ‘normal’ ones?

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34 thoughts on “Post-holiday blues?

  1. I see it as a kind of a wave on a graph. The fluctuations seem to be relatively far between now, but can still be quite deep.

    Thanks for your insights – they're really helpful.

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  2. I had good people and lovely children around me today. I think this was a thankfully short (albeit fairly severe) fluctuation back.

    I'm now hyper aware of what's being held at bay, but it is being held. For now.

    I'd like some of the rainbows and cotton candy though…that might help a whole lot!

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  3. Hey Lizzie,
    I am just making the rounds tonight because it was such a f*****up weekend…that was said because as a therapist who sees tons of folks and also as someone who knows depression first hand and has tons of mental illness in the family, I feel I can speak from a place of some experience.

    I often tell my clients (and I believe this to be true) that neurotic is truly the best anyone can hope for as we will always have the potential to be thrown out of whack by social issues in our lives. BUt a predisposition to organic illness (which depression truly is) will make that possibility even more poignant. People are just starting to accept the chronicity and the remissive nature of depression as a real, physical illness. It is not “all in your head.” Just like many illness borne of chemical issues, it is remissive …meaning we can go for long periods of time without it and maybe even at some point permanently, but more likely, there will be times it will rear its ugly head…the great thing about depression is unlike for example diabetes or cancer(or any other physical illness) it has potential to be affected by social skills and learning. SO each time it comes out of remission there is potential for it to be less devastating and less lengthy in duration. Unlike this comment…sorry…I can be passionate about this one!

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  4. Lizzi, depression is hard, and it doesn't seem to care where you live, or even how good things are going in your life. It can seem like everything is all rainbows and cotton candy and then you notice things don't feel as good as they “should.” And it just grows. At least you're aware of what's happening, that's excellent. You're not slipping unawares. I don't think it ever goes away, we just learn to deal with it and try to push out of it before it becomes overwhelming. I hope this doesn't stay with you too long.

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  5. Thanks Katy – your experience and wisdom help.

    I think part of the problem is that I feel at loggerheads with Him upstairs at the moment and am aware of being very recalcitrant and not liking it but not wanting to go along with what seems to be The Plan.

    I admire your determination to not give in. I've been fortunate enough to be surrounded by lovely people today, and they've restored most of my balance and my humour, which is a huge relief. I feel a lot more hopeful at this end of the day.

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  6. I have to agree with everyone so far, Lizzie, and my thoughts and prayers are with you {{{{{hugs}}}}}.

    I guess I can only speak from experience when I say that, yes, as far as I am concerned, the black dog will always be a part of me, as he has been for many years, but it's something that I only ever allow to visit briefly – because I know how quickly it can overwhelm me.

    I've found that thinking about all the people worse off than me doesn't help because, frankly, when I'm visited, I don't give a kahoony about anyone else at that time!

    My faith helps me quite a lot, as I've found the act of prayer can be quite cathartic. And knowing that there are people out there who feel the way that I feel can also help a little – but I guess it's only my deep-seated, stubborn, and hard-headed determination NOT to give in to the black dog when he visits, that keeps me on an even keel!

    What has helped me hugely this last few weeks, is having to really, truly, THINK about the positives in my life – and my 10 things of thankful lists go a very long way in being the biggest helper of all there – so I owe a great deal to finding your sites and becoming involved with this 🙂

    I guess, when it comes down to it, we should stop beating ourselves up about why it happens, or even who's to blame for it, as we really never know, and have very little control, about when the black dog visits 😦

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  7. Lizzi,
    I'm sorry to hear that you're going through such a rough time and I don't know if there are any “right” words, but I just want to say that I think of you as an amazingly strong individual and I really appreciate your raw, honest, poignant writing. Thank you for being you! Hugs!

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  8. I'm so sorry that you're experiencing this. You write about these feelings so beautifully. I too wrote about my struggle with depression during my pregnancy, and I can relate to your feelings of fear and terror.

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  9. …there are two other worlds (that are *nearly*…'almost exactly' ) like your current world, and they are both available within you. (yes, the Doctrine *again**) your scottian aspect and your rogerian aspect.

    I mention this not for any metaphysical, touchy-feely reason, and I totally don't mention this for a 'hey-listen-here-is-the-answer-this-will-change-everything-and-make-you-feel-better' reason, rather to say that they 'perfect and undeniable logic' of the bad thoughts are weakened when you share them with others that you feel you can identify with.

    All of your Commenters are correct.
    And while being told that you should feel better (not that they are saying that), is not the important part. What is important (imo) is that you feel that they have felt as you feel.

    For me personally, the insidious thing about depression/feeling bad/'having-your-head-swell-up-and-your-face-fall' is that when it speaks to me it is strongest when it speaks alone, privately inside my head.

    This is not to say, 'hey you shouldn't feel that way', rather it is to take the 'perfect air-tight inevitability' quality away from that voice.

    And most of the time (for me) that is enough.
    …sorta

    *well, no…since you asked, I never seem to stop with the Wakefield Doctrine… lol

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  10. damn you scotts!

    I read that when I was 13 years old….and and I still enjoy reading it!

    hey Dyanne! who the hell are you calling a children??!! oh, yeah that would be me!

    (if our hostess weren't so more mature than me… I would post a short video from the 'punk magician' that would say it all)

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  11. I have suffered from depression and I have to work very hard to push it away because it's so easy to fall back into that familiar anger and sadness. That feeling flutters into and out of my life. I often get jealous of people who I feel lead charmed lives, but I think everyone has their issues whether it's emotional or financial or whatever. We've all got problems!

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  12. Thanks Sarah. I hope I don't need help (or have sufficient presence of mind to notice if I do). I think a large part of the problem with admitting that I do need help (IF I do) is that it will utterly and irrevocably put the kibosh on any chance to adopt.

    Gotta love when these things compound in on one another.

    I'm hoping it rapidly goes back into an ebb. Tomorrow would be good.

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  13. Oh, Lizzi… I wish I could give you a hug. I too know how depression can ebb and flow, and just when you thought you had it licked it comes back again…. And this isn't indulgent, it's honest about how depression affects people. I really hope you can get help if you need it and can make your way back. {{Huge hugs}}

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  14. So many things seem to come in waves at the moment – trouble – grief – depression. There's rhythm, but I certainly didn't predict this dip. Wish I was more self-aware and able to see the dips coming, yet somehow I get knocked flat every time.

    It's ever present, I've just been fortunate for the last number of years to have it packed away somewhere small and safe. I feel as though the lid just flew off.

    I hope I come through it quickly.

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  15. Thanks Janine.

    I'm surprised to hear this resonates for you – you're about the most positive person I know!

    And as for putting myself out there…isn't it all just part of the show?

    Colour me jaded…

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  16. I haven't heard of it, but might try to add it to the list of 'books to check out soon'. Thanks for the recommendation. It sounds good, though I'm afraid I'm far more in a 'Lord of the Flies' place at the moment.

    I daresay this too, shall pass. And I'll get my humour back.

    I hope it's soon.

    Thanks

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  17. I feel the same way LIzzi. I think depression is always there lurking somewhere. And a therapist told me it comes in waves. There is a rhythm and almost a predictability to it. I think the wave analogy is a good one. It feels like you're on a surfboard trying to ride the wave constantly trying to hang on. The wave calms and then rears up at times. And sometimes it feels kind of strange to not have it – like it's so a part of things, what to do without it? Wishing you peace and that you stay afloat.

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  18. Lizzi, I think we all have a bit of this in ourselves and it is how you process things and deal with them that makes this part of you come out or become dormant for the time being. Trust me you aren't alone and I have been there in the past, too. No one if perfect and I love how easily you do put yourself out there and admire you for that. Thank you for always being so very honest and for sharing all parts of you here. Seriously couldn't love you more if I tried and totally mean that from the bottom of my heart!!

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  19. Have you ever read the book, “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L'Engle? The climax of the book has the characters (all children) fighting against something stronger than they are, which is trying to take them over. But they win against it. They find words and feelings that allowed them to triumph.

    And you can triumph, too. I know this about you. I do. It's not always going to be easy. But you've got weapons that will help you win. You have faith. You have people who love and support you. And you have your sense of humor. Is it sometimes a crutch? Sure. A defense mechanism? Yes. But it's also a shield, deflecting the darkness. It's a tool. It can be useful when used properly. Worthless when left to lie about.

    The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Other people seem to have perfect lives with no worries. Smoke and mirrors. Nobody's perfect except God.

    Don't just close that doorway. Brick it in. Walk away.

    I heart you.

    Like

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