I've been feeling unsettled lately and I only just realized that it's because I'm living my private version of an A.A. meeting, only it's for S.A.D.
Hi. My name is Cat, and I'm depressed as hell. Nice to meet you. Now leave me the fuck alone.
Every year I'm surprised when I start to feel this way. I must block the memory out or something, because. I just went back to last January's posts and found that I write about this very same problem every single year in mid-January. The Dark Dark.
I am nothing, it seems, if not reliably depressed.
I find myself unable to become motivated to do anything other than lay in bed watch television and eat boxes of candy. The mere idea of brushing my teeth is physically painful. THE EXERTION WILL KILL ME. I gain weight. Lots of weight. Several-sizes-fatter-style weight. Most of the time I have pretty good self-control when it comes to food, but not in January. Not in winter. Not in hell.
I get restless. Bored. I want a project but I don't want to actually DO anything, so I become disenchanted by the lack of project completion. Then I eat some more because, there. That's something, at least. At least I can say I finished that box of Hot Tamales, and now that's finished, I need a nap.
I back away from fun. Going out on Saturday? No cover charge? Awesome band? Mmmm no thanks, I have a hot date with my DVR and my sweatpants. And I intend to avoid showering from Friday morning until Monday morning. I simply cannot make it out on Saturday. Or Sunday. Or Wednesday. I'm not interested in your motherfucking Pampered Chef party, although if you decide to throw a cocaine party...keep me on your short list for that.
The restless feeling turns into frantic purpose-hunting. I'm going to adopt another dog! I'm going to find a writing gig! I'm going to sell my liver! Don't worry, I'm keeping the good half. I'm going to organize my file system. Someday. When I feel like it. After my nap. I'm going to take a big bag of clothing to Goodwill and not even go inside to shop. I'm going to make babies! I'm going to quit drinking caffeine! I'm going to volunteer for the humane society! I'm going to donate blood! I'm going to wax my anus!
None of those things get accomplished, or if they do, the listless, pointless feeling persists. I give up. I'm tired.
I get weepy.
I get cranky.
My awesome husband, beautiful home, silly dog, fun job, good friends, reliable vehicle...none of them are enough to make the inside of my brain smile, though I keep my face smiling. It's a habit.
I know I have it good. Awesome even. But it doesn't matter.
It's difficult to describe with words, but I've tried here.
I feel this way, and it's the same every winter, and yet every winter I'm surprised when the feeling returns. Every year it takes several weeks for me to realize what is happening to me. To recognize the symptoms. To remember the bad feeling, what causes it, and that it GOES AWAY.
Stupid fucking messed up brain chemistry. Thanks, Jesus.
Is it worse this particular year because of my brain injury? Hard to say, really. There probably isn't a definitive answer to that question, but I guess the damage to my head certainly didn't HELP the situation. I've had these bad feelings for as long as I can remember, for my entire life.
I wish like hell I had known to seek help when I was ten, eleven, sixteen, twenty-one. Because now I'm medicated and it isn't as bad. I don't spend hours visualizing ways to kill myself without it hurting too much. I don't, as I used to do as a teen, sit in my room disassembling disposable razors to release the blades and use them on my shoulders, breasts and outer wrists. I don't keep them stored in empty Altoids tins along with band aids, rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton balls.
I no longer dump out entire bottles of Tylenol and count the pills, pondering if there are enough. Enough that I won't wake up.
Or the antihistamines. I no longer take handfuls of those little pink and white pills so that the Dark Dark is relegated to the outer corners of my vision.
It's better now, but it isn't gone, and I doubt very much that it ever will be, regardless of where in the country I reside. I have an acquaintance who suffers from the inverse of my seasonal affective disorder. She lives in Arizona and feels the Dark Dark during the summer months. She seeks therapy. In her home, she has a "cool room" that is painted a soft blue with blackout shades, humidifiers and ice cubes.
I guess what I'm saying is that if you know what I'm describing, do something about it. Therapy can help. Medication might help. Just acknowledging it DOES HELP. And knowing you're not the only one. That's something, too.
Also, if I show up here with an anaconda around my neck and fourteen unicorns in my living room...you'll understand.