Autumnal Anxiety

It’s coming again. Even whilst (some of) the days are still infused with bright sunshine and glorious warmth, I can tell it’s there, lurking, just around the corner. It’s dragging at the edges of my mind and turning them to cold and darkness and that damp smell of rotting leaves. It’s crumbling away the foundations of what I thought was a reasonably stable place, and in spite of being assured it’s “chemicals”*, I’m still reluctant to admit I might not be past this little thing, depression.

Can’t I just blame autumn instead?SunsineSmileI mean, come on – do I look depressed?

Okay, okay, I know it’s not about how I look. In fact, I think when people who struggle with depression (or any other mental illness, for that matter) aren’t crying in corners (I get to say it cos I do it), they’re probably making the most effort to look very most definitely NOT like someone with a mental illness. Certainly that seems true for the people I know who have this little matter of ‘chemicals’ to take into consideration.

Nonetheless, I’m struggling, or at least, I have been for the past day or so, when I first noticed that it was dark in the morning. I switched on the light in the kitchen and something faded in my heart. Shadows swept in and took it to themselves to give me a thorough haunting. That I have the luxury of things like a kitchen and a light when I’m trying so hard to raise enough money to get my homeless friend Jenny housed (I’m even keener to do it before the weather turns nasty), and yet can still be upset in the face of such abundance is patently ridiculous.

Except it’s not. Because mental illness doesn’t kowtow to logic – it brings its own and reshapes your view of the world, whilst berating you for having such a horrendous perspective and being a miserable bint when there are people out there with actual problems.

So I find myself bereft of words, my eyes swimming with tears I feel I don’t deserve** to release, watching my inner self as it drifts loose from the people which connect it, and drifts unbidden into a landscape of dark mud, stark trees against chill skies, and darkness clawing up from the frozen earth to claim me as its own as rotten leaves stain my soul with their mulch.

I’m beyond grateful that I have strong connections with people who DO understand this – who experience it personally (whatever form it takes for them), and who are willing to step in and be supportive. I’m thankful that if I describe myself as feeling trapped beneath the ice of a shallow, stagnant lake, watching with horror as the inevitable drifts of leaves and snow hide me from sight, from mind, from thought, and from heart, they will understand and reassure me.

Thinking deeper, I know that there are tangible reasons I dislike this time of year, which are compounded by the darkness and gloominess of the world at large. The end of summer was always an ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ event for me, and now there’s a date in November I wish I could forget. The snags and tangles of abuse and grief, however softened by time, still have a surprisingly strong hold. But even if i name the emotions, and attempt to reason them, experience them, and step away, there’s still the tiredness and the cringing exhaustion of “Not another round…”

I already have strategies in mind (sun booth, here I come) to try to combat this, and if I can avoid going back on medication, of course I would rather do that. Not (for once) because I’m bothered by the stigma or the fact that it means that once again I’ve confirmed that my mind just can’t go it alone; but because I really didn’t like the numbing side-effects I experienced last time I was taking meds with any frequency. Added to which it’s taken a month ++ to come off them, and I still get the weird ‘brain zap’ thing every now and again and ohhh I can’t bear to go through it again.

So what to do with these worries which are tightening the thumbscrews on the tenderest portions of my mind? I can ride it out, with help and Lifeboats, I think. I know I can distract with work and seeking beauty and talking to my people. And thus far the music hasn’t disappeared from my world or become something too good for me. So there’s that.

It’s an unexpected nuance, too, because for once I don’t feel passionately full of self-hatred. This is more like self-apathy, as though I am worth no more than one of those awful, crisp-brown autumn leaves which crunches underfoot and shatters, reflecting in miniature the death of the year. I don’t even care about myself enough to get riled about my figure (usually a huge self-absorbing focus of negativity and poison). I feel shrouded in cold mist of emotionless dismissal, which is obscuring the warmth and colour from my world, and sapping my strength and resolve to meet this dip head-on. It tempts me to succumb, which is a large jump, and not one I usually make, but this time around the winter seems to stretch ahead endlessly, and the prospect of losing my heart in Murica and then finding I have to leave it there, is already springing gin-traps in the more fearful hedgerows of my thoughts.

I’ve been told time and time again that life is for learning from, and that sometimes the way to redeem a negative experience is to see what can be learned from it. I’ll cling to that idea, and see what can be discovered as I undergo a time of the pieces scattering to the winds again and seeming like they might never reassemble. They will, because they always do, and like kintsugi, the gaps mean that gold can be poured in; from experiences; from people; from finding beautiful things to appreciate; from keeping calm and carrying on, and somehow being useful.

I’ve no idea how long this will last (would that I could schedule it, conveniently). Maybe I’ll wake up in the morning and it will all be fine, and maybe not. But I will wake up; because there’s gold to find.

Gold in the Darkness

*In case the “chemicals” comment sounds short or dismissive, it wasn’t – it was part of a very gentle, loving response from someone who knows the worst of me (and perhaps some of the best), when I told her I was dipping again.

**Anyone who knows me well will know that word is anathema to me. And yet…and yet…

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45 thoughts on “Autumnal Anxiety

    • I truly believe that if, in the depths of despair, I can still be useful and bring light to other people’s worlds, then I redeem my own darkness a little. And I find it sometimes brightens me, too.

      You have my utmost sympathies though, Kerri, if you feel this way too, because it’s awful. Hope you find ways to stay bright (I find sun beds and fairy lights help (not simultaneously))

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is a very powerful trait to be able to lift someone up even though your’e barely hanging on yourself. It is cathartic, if you will. Luckily I live in the Southern Hemisphere and spring is here, but I can certainly resonate with that feeling you get when summer is over. It’s almost like leaving your childhood behind every year. So I will be thinking of you and wish you well and that your feelings of hope have longevity x

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        • I find it helps and is sometimes necessary, so it’s powerful good for me as well as whoever I try to brighten. So glad to hear you have summer approaching. I like spring for that – the glorious feeling as days get longer and mornings get lighter and the world becomes more manageable.

          I hope you carry your summer through autumn and winter in your heart πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Sometimes when I read a post, then read the comments I cannot find anything to say that is repetitive. However, you can never have enough hugs, so I will just send those along to you. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that you put a pic of yourself and stressed that depressed people don’t necessarily look a specific way. You have such a gifted writing voice, I look forward to your words even though, sadly, they are painful to you. You are educating so many.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I felt I had to, in a way – I know depression can be so misleading, and I think quite often the ‘sparkliest’ people can be the ones who struggle most. I know that this week has been horrendously low for me.

      Thanks so much for your lovely feedback about my writing ‘voice’ – that’s really lovely to know πŸ™‚ And yes – I hope if nothing else that I can educate people with this.

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    • It helps a tiny bit to be able to think “In two weeks time, I’ll be 14 days past this” and to imagine a future where the feeling has faded into the background again…but no, it’s a case of getting through it. But you’re right – it *does* pass πŸ™‚

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  3. we (clarks) know how you feel.
    we (clarks) are, at varying times, at varying points, of the inner geography that you describe so well. Unfortunately, it is our (tendency) to try to make more understandable by conceptualizing in ways that work against our efforts. Perspective can be perception and perception totally can be reality. (we do love playing with words, don’t we? but it is our nature, our reality, our worldview that has the premise that ‘it can be understood’.)
    Identification is my current favorite label for the (deliberate) effort to recognize that another person knows how I feel. (not an original concept, everything good is borrowed at one time or another, hobbies and friends, lovers and careers, they are all things that are in the world, and from time to time we allow ourselves to borrow them. identifying with another clark is magically difficult, i.e. you can only allow it to happen, you do not need the other person’s permission or cooperation, you simply witness their world and know how it feels.)
    as Castaneda said (or pretended that don Juan said), ‘the world is a feeling.’

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  4. I’m feeling it too. Stores full of school supplies and pumpkin decorations and stuff. But I’m choosing to ride the wave of Fall to Winter by looking forward to things to come – like the ‘Murica meeting, a ceremony and a family reunion in October, Thanksgiving at the Beach and Christmas visit to NYC. For me, it’s really January to March that brings my angst to the surface and the funk comes crashing down. That’s when the silver linings get you through. ((((hugs)))))))

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  5. It’s always fascinating for me, hearing the perspective of people who don’t like autumn and winter. For me, autumn brings the ability to go outside and walk without sweating to death (I run hot. REALLY HOT), and the beguiling smell of earth and bonfires; the scrunch of leaves underfoot and the beautiful flame colours of them on the trees; the slight nip in the air contrasting with milky sunlight. The world becomes quieter, calmer, as the harsh glare and cacophonous busy-ness of summer makes way for a period of reflection and waiting for the rebirth of spring…

    Same season, viewed through a different lens. You may have inspired me to write a companion piece giving the perspective of one who loves autumn.

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  6. I feel this. I’ve hated winter for a good deal of time now. We’ve had a really temperate summer, too, so not much sun. I’m trying not to think about winter too much yet. My things come in December – my sisters’ deaths and my divorce, both. So I’m trying not to let it get to me. But the darkness is discomfiting, for sure. I get up between 5-5:30 each morning and when it is still dark, that’s a bit depressing for me.
    I also don’t want to go back on any more medication. I’m still taking my Buspar, mostly because I do get horrendous anxiety attacks and I haven’t figured out how to let my body deal with it yet. I think actually that some of the horrible anxiety is from coming off of Wellbutrin, which I tried to do very slowly because it’s been a fucking rollercoaster in the past. So I’m feeling the dip in my mood, going a bit down into the dark again, but I’m trying to avoid that medication road, and like you am trying to hang onto my friends and my daily yoga practice.

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    • I wish all the bad things wouldn’t happen in winter – it makes it so much more challenging, for an already difficult season. Perhaps in a way it fits, because the grief and starkness can go hand in hand, but it certainly intensifies the horribleness of it.

      *HUGS* Hang on in there, girlie. At least you know part of your ‘why’ might be because you’re doing things with your meds. I found it much easier to know that there was a reason, rather than that part of me was broken again. Sounds like you’re right to keep going with the Buspar and yoga. And yes – hanging onto friends is so, so necessary. I think we’re both lucky to have such good ones.

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  7. I will be praying for you, sweet precious Tigger… it’s different this time around- and that is GOOD. It can be a passing under-breath, just needing to be released. I can be a swift stingy fragrance simply drifting in the air, clearing up by morn. It can be a touch of what was and what will be- together unfolding into new threads of you now. Allow it to surface as you are… honor where you are at, and know that the gold always lives and longs for you to take hold of it. When you’re ready, you will discover it.

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    • Mine too…I’m so annoyed at the shingles – as it turned out, I couldn’t have made the journey anyway, for being ill. Maybe I’ve done too much too soon after that. It would be in character. But it was a sore day to know I had missed you.

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    • I haven’t woken up feeling desperate…just flat and empty. Hoping the light finds its way back today. Maybe as I work.

      Looking forward to the real hug, and to SEEING you again πŸ™‚

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  8. November, huh? It’s a dreary time of year, for sure. But better than February, in my opinion.
    I get that what you said about “my mind just can’t go it alone.” I struggled with that for so long. It’s so, so hard to admit that your brain may not be made to “go it alone” without a little assistance. Now that’s me (I’m not saying it’s you ’cause I don’t know); I’ve decided (with professional input, of course) that my mind is not made to go it alone. It made me so mad because I was raised to work hard, to conquer obstacles, to not let things like health or mood get in my way. Yet they did. And they made life for my family that much harder.
    So, a little sertraline every day helps smooth the way. For me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand your anger, and I’m glad you’ve made a decision which helps you in tackling the everyday. I can’t remember whether or not I tried sertraline. I know there was one I tried before paroxetine which *really* messed me up. I just plain don’t like the SSRIs *sigh* I like being able to FEEL (when it’s good things), but of course that means I feel ALL the things, yaknow?

      February is the armpit of the year. Garfield said so.

      November 2nd is the anniversary of my first Neverborn – a date I definitely wish in all the ways wasn’t part of my psyche.

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