Here’s a funny thing about depression, and it’s not one you see listed anywhere alongside the typical symptoms used to identify it (although Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half gives a remarkable account of it here and here). I’m talking about the mind numbing boredom that goes hand in hand with a really bad episode, because alongside the inability to motivate myself to do anything, there’s the fact that somehow, I have to be awake for a good 14 to 16 hours of the day. That is one hell of a long time to sit and stare at nothing, or debate with myself about what I could/should be doing (incidentally, I can’t turn on the TV during the day to pass time. I don’t know why, but somehow watching TV in the middle of the day is a far greater sin than sitting and staring at nothing. Don’t ask, I cannot even begin to explain why/where I got that notion from).

Take today. I went to bed early so I woke early. It took the best part of an hour to get up and have breakfast (and I’m only talking about cereal here, nothing exciting). Then following a LOT of arguing with myself, I managed to change the 3 beds, pausing between each with a long pause after. I processed a couple of loads of washing. Pause. Made a half hearted attempt to clean the bathroom. Pause. Showered. Pause.

You get where I’m going. Everything is a monumental effort right now. I’m relieved that Hubby and the kids aren’t here so I have the luxury of being so completely inept without having an audience, but at the same time, am feeling massively guilty that they’ve had to step out for a few days to avoid being reluctant witnesses to my efforts. I also appreciate that there are people reading this who simply cannot comprehend the kind of inability to motivate that I’m talking about, and I’m not sure I can put it in any way that will make it possible to understand. You know when you have the flu, and even turning your head seems like too much effort? That’s what it feels like, only without an obvious physical cause, which makes it so much harder to understand. When I got over all my trying and pausing earlier, I took myself out for a walk. It was almost as much effort as running was a few days ago – my legs actually felt weighted down.

The flip side of my slow pace was that it gave me a chance to admire the scenery and sunshine around Oughterard today

On the whole, today has been better than yesterday. Ok, all of the above both took a long time and an infuriating amount of effort, but I have to count them as achivements. The next great debate is work. I cannot decide if it’s the right place for me to be right now. Yes, I can sit at my machine and function (albeit at a very low level) but it takes so much effort that there’s nothing at all left for home, and I think that maybe some of the anger of the last few weeks is coming from trying to manage that. Should I bow out gracefully now, and take a few weeks to allow the meds to kick in? Or should I keep pushing through and hope for an improvement sooner rather than later? Thoughts on this are much appreciated

This article has 19 Comments

  1. Fiona, I have been in bed since Friday night so can totally relate to you. How do we get ourselves out of these days of deep despair? I have not spoken to one person since Friday afternoon. No body cares 🙁

  2. In my humble opinion, I think that you should go in. You are just getting back into a routine and I think it would be a mistake to break that routine now and have to start all over again when you go back. It nay seem hard now but it will only be for a few days and then you have easter break to kick back. Good luck whatever you decide x

    1. I decided not to! Wasn't an easy decision, but definitely for the best. I'm feeling better for a couple more days of quiet, and now it'll be a short week till Easter break. I'm hoping that this pause has been long enough to see me over the worst of it.

  3. Hmm, it's difficult one. Make an appt with your GP and see what they say?

    Also are you supposed to be working this week whilst the rest of the family is away? Because if you go to work and it's still knocking you for six (hmm, that's a cricket phrase, hope it translates) without all the other general stuff involved in having a houseful of chaos demons (lovely as they may be) then I think you've successfully shown that work is too much – kind of like a science experiment when you eliminate factors. So, if they're away, I think I'd try going to work tomorrow, make an appt with my GP for Wednesday, keep going till then if I could and discuss it with him. But that's a guess, because I don't really know, so if hubby contradicts me go with what he says.

    I think as well, if you're alone in the house and not working that's a big unstructured chunk of time for you to loll around in whilst being berated by bitchface and no -one there to contradict her, which doesn't sound like a good set up to me. Can you tell if that would it be worse than working?

    I still reckon that speaking to your occupational health at work (here's hoping they have one, HR department if not I guess) and seeing if working reduced hours for a couple of weeks might be a good compromise, don't know if that's an option at all and if so if it's something that a letter from your GP could help with?

    Good luck making the right decision. Clutter, clutter, clutter…..

    1. I opted for time out. Talked it through with Hubby, my folks, and therapist (because god forbid I should make a decision by myself!!) and all agreed that this was for the best. I'm going in tomorrow, apprehensive but I think I'll be ok. Like you say, I need to see how I'll manage coming home to a quiet house and whether that will knock me. Reduced hours aren't an option right now but I'm crossing my fingers for a change come September.

    2. Well done for making a decision, sounds like it was the right one. Hope the time off helped a bit (I was going to write rest but it doesn't sound that restful for you) and you cope with work ok the rest of this week.

  4. P.S. Just thought, when I was off school ill and complained that I felt bored my mum used to say it was a sign that I was getting better. The rational being that when you're really ill you don't notice. Not sure how this translates to mental health, but being bored is a feeling, rather than the complete numbness of the pit of depression (as I understand it, not from personal experience).

    1. I get what you mean, but it's not the same – it's not boredom from doing nothing, more from the chronic inability to do anything, despite having plenty to do…………I'm not explaining that well at all, sorry! Maybe bored isn't the right word………..numb, withdrawn………I don't know. Words escape me tonight!

    2. I don't know if this helps, but when I get the feeling that you describe, I liken it to being stuck in molasses. You see all the things around you that need to be done, but you can't really move. You feel like you're trying, and your brain is telling your muscles to move, but when you try you make no real progress. It's exhausting – mentally and physically. It's the lack of real progress, despite feeling like I'm making monumental effort, that is so paralyzing, demoralizing, pick any other awful word.

    3. I don't know if this helps, but when I get the feeling that you describe, I liken it to being stuck in molasses. You see all the things around you that need to be done, but you can't really move. You feel like you're trying, and your brain is telling your muscles to move, but when you try you make no real progress. It's exhausting – mentally and physically. It's the lack of real progress, despite feeling like I'm making monumental effort, that is so paralyzing, demoralizing, pick any other awful word.

  5. I've wrote on here before on how much this blog has helped me understand what my best friend is going through. U are helping so many people by sharing your thoughts. 🙂 I am at a loss of how to help my friend. She has completely pushed me away and has went as far as blocking me from her cell phone. We haven't talked for months. She was acting so out of character and blaming me for her feelings of anxiety. I believe this was an excuse to push the closest to her away. I just wish I would have handled things differently. I had no idea what was happening and I took everything personal. I don't have any answers for u. As u can see, I feel
    I have not handled things right with my best friend. I just want u to know how much reading this blog has helped me understand. She tried to tell me but couldn't… And I took it personal when it came out as irritibility and anger. I also took it personally when she was able to wear a mask around others.

    I continue to reach out with cards once in awhile to let her know I'm still here. I don't want to pressure her and I don't want contact her if she doesn't want me to. It's a hard situation to be in. Once again, reading ur blog has helped. She to described not being able to concentrate… Confusion, anger, irrational behavior and actions. However, I do think that I was going to be the one who it was taken out on since I was the closest.

    Don't give up. U are so strong and u are fighting this. I feel like I've failed my friend by not seeing what was happening sooner but I will never give up on her or our friendship. 🙂 please know that there are people rooting for u and i know it can be hard to share your thoughts and how u feel…. But this website is helping so many.

    I wish I had more advice but I want to say I follow u on Facebook and here. I'm
    Rooting for u.

    1. Thanks so much, I really appreciate the support and I'm glad to have been able to help you understand what's been going on with your friend. I hope things pick up for you both soon.

  6. I had to crack up when you wrote about watching TV during the day – I get the same feelings and it's absolutely frustrating because it`s a waste of energy. Guilt, I guess?! Only lazy people do something pointless as watching TV during the day?

    When it comes to work: I kept fighting over the years to stay in well-paid jobs because I wanted to function and saw no real alternative. It was tough and I was close to giving up at times. Now I'm trying to start a new career path where I'm self-employed because I can better adjust my working times and effort to the ups and downs of depression – but the flip side is that it's a risky endeavour.

    Looking back I'm thinking the constant pushing myself to function in a demanding job I didn't really like and the chronic stress that comes with it might now make the healing take longer because my body and brain have been in emergency mode for that long. Maybe it would have been wiser to step back sooner (also this is often extremely difficult) and not try to keep up a pace that's not manageable with depression.

    1. It's such a delicate balancing act, isn't it?? At the moment I work because financially I have to, but it is definitely proving difficult to manage and keep everything else in perspective as well. Having time to myself the last few days has really helped, and I'm hoping it's going to be enough to get me back on an even keel. Thankfully I'm going back to a short week and then off again for Easter so it's not so bad.
      Hope self-employment is treating you well – best of luck!

  7. I don't have any profound thoughts on the issue of work. There are so many variables that factor into a decision like that, and I don't feel like I could really provide anything useful there.

    That being said… I do think it's important right now that you take care of YOU. It may seem selfish, and like it shouldn't have to be like this, but you seem to be at a really critical juncture. I think there are times when you can continue to function as you have been and take care of yourself in parallel; and then there are times when your mental health is so critical that you need to get off the merry-go-round and focus only on that.

    Also, do you absolutely have to make a decision about work right now? You are in such a tough place, and have had such an awful couple of days, that it seems like it might be nice for you to spend this evening saying "Yay me! I changed the sheets! And did some laundry! And showered! All in one day!" Rather than jumping into the next tornado of serious issues to be decided. Maybe you could let your mind rest for a bit?

    1. rest my mind??! Ha! Chance would be a fine thing. Although to be fair after I FINALLY made up my mind the other day I zoned out with Netflix for a good hour, so that was kind of a rest for my head. I'm heading back to work tomorrow and hoping for the best as it's a short week. Fingers crossed! x

    2. For what it's worth, you sound better – better enough to laugh at my lame suggestion to rest your mind! 🙂

      I hope that the next couple of work days go smoothly for you. You sound like you might be in a better place mentally to manage it this week.

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