Charts for depression.

Off the cuff ramblings (or “off the curr,” whichever appeals more).

I should’ve realized I was depressed when I drew a chart on the whiteboard to keep help me keep track of my medication. I’ve been struggling to take the pills consistently. That’s kind of adorable: it’s three pills a day I take with meals. It doesn’t require mental Olympics.

It’s surprising how much of a struggle meds can become. In the early days of dosing, I’m committed to my pills. They’re my Obi-Wan, my last and only hope. If I’m lucky, they work.

I’ve been lucky with the Trintellix. It keeps me in the realm of normal most of the time. Sadly, as time passes, taking my meds gets more haphazard. Worse, I start to let the missed doses go. One or two a week gets left unswallowed. It makes me feel like a rebel.

I’ve been wondering lately if I’m depressed. Clinically, not emotionally. There’s a significant difference though one can be both. “Both” is extra buckets of fun.

But I digress.

As it turns out, by the time you draw the chart, it’s too late. You’re no longer avoiding the depression. You’ve hit mitigation.

I’d probably be depressed even if I didn’t suffer from depression. I’ve taken quite a few blows over the last bit, and a person can only take so many before the brain tags out. Or, so I tell myself. I’m ignoring the existence of people who don’t ever give up. They’re not me.

I’ve been hideously inert lately. It’s like I’m buried in a vat of petroleum jelly that’s also been shoveled into my brain. The shock of my mother’s lung cancer diagnosis has yet to wear off, and it seems it was kind of a straw. That’s unfortunate: I can’t afford a broken back right now, herniated discs notwithstanding.

The apathy that dogs my days and makes almost everything seem impossibly insurmountable (my depression loves a good adverb) has poor timing. It doesn’t care that I’ve stuff to do.

Doing the same thing for the past ten days or so while expecting a different result hasn’t worked. I’m shocked. I really thought that this would be the time a failing philosophy would pay off.

What about returning to first principles? That thought popped into my head as I was trying to write an emotionally-connected journal entry that wasn’t as stilted as a dollar store greeting card (orders from my counsellor). The current operating system isn’t getting things done.

First Principles is one of those things I know well enough to understand but not well enough to explain. This means I don’t know it, but we’ll pretend that’s not true.

The theory behind first principles is this: you reverse engineer a problem down to the smallest possible units until you’re left with a singular truth that can stand alone. Then you take that truth and try to build a problem-free solution from the ground up. It may or may not comply with dogma.

I am. A basic truth that gets lost in the morass of life events and mental illness. I exist, and there’s value in that, an idea my neurons are designed to disregard. Unfortunately, the cumulative effect of letting the smaller tasks go is a collapse of the system.

Short-term gain for long-term pain.

Thus, we are back to planning and lists. I am. A first principle for me is that I’m not “off the cuff.” I don’t work well without structure. Oddly, when I inexplicably convince myself to fly freeform, I fail to track negative changes or build in safeguards. Assured destruction.

Perhaps I have feeble survival instincts? Or, and I like this option better, a homicidal life-partner in my depression?

There I go anthropomorphizing again (that’s a viciously hard word to type).

“Am” requires certain things in return for one’s existence. Including facing the uncomfortable parts of life that seem to be attacking from all sides. “Meet your challenges” appears to be a global truth.

Because things are complicated and chaotic right now, I don’t blame myself for reverting to my familiar coping mechanisms. Much. If my world was currently calm, cool, and collected, I might even stay for a bit, relishing the lack of effort the pit requires.

We don’t always want immediate rescue.

But I’ve things to do, and miles to go before I sleep.* First on the agenda after a shower is getting a haircut. It seems easier to pull oneself back from “let it all go” with a new ‘do. Even depression responds to marketing.

“Reasoning by first principles is useful when you are (1) doing something for the first time, (2) dealing with complexity, and (3) trying to understand a situation that you’re having problems with.”

*Robert Frost

By Em

I like writing. Words help me unpack my thoughts so things can start to make sense. Once I have both myself and the universe figured out, I plan to take up macrame. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go." E. L. Doctorow

12 comments

  1. Are you reading Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I Am That because if not it can keep you distracted for days. πŸ™ I’m also taking Trintellix and have no idea if its doing anything at all.

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  2. Without structure, I would be completely useless. I used to think managing meds would never be a problem. Now I’ve got my bigass pill organizer that has to be right in front of my face for me to notice its bright rainbow colours, and even then a noon dose of medication is a challenge to get my brain to notice. If something isn’t on a list or right in front of my face, it’s not happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ehh… All I can say is that I hope your crisis does not go on for too long. Now I will say more. Because, it turns out, that I can. LOL, I’m so funny, right?

    It’s a cliche, but it’s true – take care of yourself because if you don’t, you definitely won’t be able to take care of your mother (not in the long run, anyway).

    I definitely like to plan in some ways and need structure. But when it comes to crisis mode, I let go of that because I find it too constricting, too rigid, too easy to fail… so I improvise, focusing on the here and now only.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m trying to find the balance because if my schedule is too rigid, I rebel and that too helps no one. I actually got a haircut today which is a win.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pascal’s first foundation, “cogito ergo sum”; I think, therefore I am, is the basis of all our existence. From there we must ask, “How did we come to be? Is there purpose in our existence? Where can I find that purpose, if such exists?”
    The shorter Westminster catechism answers these: “The whole duty of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever.” He is only found in Jesus, the Christ, but once aligned with Him, the rest of the universe, even our depressions, make sense. He is worth living and dying for, since He died for us. Check out Paul’s letter to the Philippians for one of the best “treatments” for depression. I know it helps as this is an area of continual struggle for me as well. love and prayers, c.a.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I started paying serious attention to my sleep, and then building a proper evening and morning routine around it, I found it made a big difference to my mental wellbeing. I find it’s especially important to stick to them when you are having a bad day. Yes structure is important. I sincerely hope you’re doing well Em. πŸ™

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It’s funny how quickly the behaviours that make us feel better disappear. That’s the problem when things like good sleep hygiene aren’t natural. At least it’s mostly warm and sunny in my world these days. πŸ¦‹

      Liked by 1 person

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