A return to baseline – when depression starts to ease.

How’s everyone doing? I hope you’re well. I’ve been derelict with most of my relationships.

This is one of the problems with episodic depression – while you’re in it you miss much of the world happening around you. Good things, bad things, important things, and minutiae – none of it feels real.

Even if you attend in body, the spirit is elsewhere.

Nowhere good, but elsewhere.

Not that I’ve been there in body. I withdrew fully from everything for a few days there. Had a nice little break. And by “break” we mean mental fracture and not a trip to Mexico.

Nothing feels important and everything feels awful.

Part of the problem was my foster child. They were very much like my daughter which created all kinds of problems inside my head, not the least being my constant exhortations to myself to do better and not react to history.

It’s a hard thing, being triggered. I hate to use that word anymore, what with the phrase becoming part of everyday speech:

Starbucks was out of my Strawberry Oat Milk Match Latte this morning. I’m so triggered.

I am, however, lit.

We didn’t decide to part ways because of this, or even because of my depression – I will get it done notwithstanding – or even because of the revelation that they were participating in some serious bullying. The kind of bullying that sees police involvement.

The kind of bullying that brings up old memories and has me tumbling the rest of the way into the pit. I experienced extremely severe bullying during grades eight and nine, and that kind of abuse by the masses has long legs.

That also isn’t the straw. The straw was this – they decided to stop staying here. They also decided to stop listening to any rules and when queried, they informed their social worker that wasn’t going to change.

So they’re gone and they’d like me to open the doors as soon as possible. The need is high. Mine for a break is high as well, however, so I’ve requested a couple of weeks.

It’s been a lot to process and deal with. There’s a great deal to learn. It would be easy to let this drag me down further, but I’m trying to refuse.

Luckily, the sun has come out. That’s not a metaphor. It’s come out at last in British Columbia, the majority of which has been stuck in mostly grey with a vengeance since November. We’ve gone from seasonally cool to breaking heat records. We jumped fifteen degrees Celsius in some places in a matter of days, equal to about sixty degrees Fahrenheit if that’s your temperature jam.

Heat and sun can be a danger – make sure you wear sunscreen and a hat – but they’re burning away the seasonal bits of my black mood. Enough so that I can recognize and regret my absence from circles real and online. Enough so that I can start to recognize that maybe my negative thoughts are rooted in my brain and not reality.

Enough so that I can be sure that not all of the issue is seasonal.

I miss my life, but when the black dog is on me, I find people hard to bear. They require energy at a time when I’m struggling not to clutch my skull and bang my head into something solid in an attempt to stop the unbearable thinking that comes with being in a dark space.

Statements like these come across as hyperbolic, but they’re not, or at least, not much.

Coming back to myself usually includes the reminder that mental illness is many things, and occasional selfishness is one of those. It’s nice that my mood reversal comes with a warning so that I don’t make things worse by switching from sad to self-condemnation.

I don’t know that I’d change the withdrawal even if I was aware of it in real-time – the world is a lot when I’m spiralling – but that doesn’t make me love it more.  

Two things can be true at the same time. Necessary, and selfish.

You’d think as adults we’d be better at dealing with multiplicities, but we’re not.

What, then, does coming back to myself look like (and since I’m not a special unicorn, we can assume certain commonalities with other people unwinding depression’s tentacles)?

It doesn’t look like making my bed. I make that always, regardless. It’s a habit I recommend. It’s the work of minutes to get a psychological boost every day.

Also, when I don’t make it, I know I should probably call someone. Not a friend. We’re into professionals when I stop making the bed on top of other withdrawals.

Coming back to myself looks like showering/bathing more than once a week (or ten days or two weeks. I can justify quite an amount of time).

It looks like making an appointment with the hairdresser because I may have been hacking at my hair in my distress. On the bright side, chin length is better for the heat, and the dog days of summer are coming.

It looks like being honest with the people in my life that are there to take care of me. It’s letting them. And by that I mean therapists. My family has other issues and my friends aren’t much interested in reciprocal aid. It makes me uncomfortable to hear that is a direct quote. It was followed by a subject change so it wasn’t a “be uncomfortable, do it anyway” moment.

On the bright side, they’ll get angry with me when they learn I didn’t share.

If they learn.

It’s remembering to be easy on myself. It’s remembering that I’m not the worst human since Caligula.

It’s ceasing the desperate spending I can’t afford. You won’t find inner peace at a warehouse or thrift store. Rude, but true.

Amazon doesn’t deliver it either.

It’s giving other people grace and not hitting DEFCON one because someone cut me off in the parking lot.

It’s wearing makeup and clothes that aren’t “loungewear,” what I like to call the repeated wearing of my pyjamas and stained track pants. You can dress a pig in a ballgown, but it’s still a pig. Things are as they are.

It’s pushing back against the nasty inside voice that’s been berating me non-stop, so much so that I started to self-medicate with wine, weed, and extra doses of meds. I stayed quit from smoking, however, and from purging – and I was tempted – so I’m calling that win.

The DSM may not use, “tendency to shoot oneself in the foot repeatedly” as a hallmark of depression, but it should. Because one of the things I’ve learned in this lifetime of living with major depressive disorder is that it’s a real thing, and many of us do it.

It’s counter-intuitive, but also a hallmark.

It’s putting pen to paper in my journal and manipulating electricity and bits to do the same in Word. It’s emerging from my mental cave.


Addendum: I wrote this on Sunday to post on Monday, but Monday morning I woke to a series of texts from my stepdaughter. We’re estranged if you’re new. Resiliency is another thing that goes when depression is ascendant. You’re less resilient than you are fragile, as my response to this morning’s messages demonstrates.

I haven’t kicked that bit of human that wants to return pain in kind.

I didn’t, but I didn’t burn the fatted calf either, nor did I jump up and down at her offer to explain again why she was angry at me. I still have the texts. But I was curt, and now I feel guilty, though I did mention to her when she sent her character assassination that my boundary would be her getting counselling, and us sitting down with a mediator to hash things out.  

This is the problem with a lifetime of door-mattery – people expect you to keep lying down. But I meant it.

I’ve also not made the bed in a couple of days.


“Nobody Hates You.”

6 thoughts on “A return to baseline – when depression starts to ease.

  1. Well, this is concerning. You wrote the post a couple of days ago, which seemed as though you were beginning to emerge from the darkness, but then your postscript written today includes some major setbacks that seemed to potentially plunge you even more in the darkness than you were.

    First, I’m proud of you for reaching out in spite of (assumably) not wanting to. You recognize that you’re in a dangerous mental state—that’s key. Reintegrating with people you like (and are safe) will help you shift your focus to things outside of yourself. Did you make that list of things you enjoy? Now is the time to put it to use.

    I’m so sorry to hear about the fostering “failure.” Keep in mind that YOU are not the failure. Some people are not open to receiving help—that kiddo is one of them. It comes out as anger and meanness, but those are masks for deep hurt and insecurity. You cannot save them all. Definitely take a break from fostering. Your cup is empty. You can’t mentally provide for someone in that state. Take care of you first.

    You have my number. If talking on the phone is too much, you can always text. I’m here, and I care. Hang in there and keep moving towards the light. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

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