I’m right in the middle of a dramatic shift in mood and I want to try and capture it in words. There are so many sites out there describing the symptoms of depression, but not so much the actual feelings. And maybe this is all just me, maybe this isn’t what it feels like for anyone else. But I was talking to Hubby about this earlier, and it made sense to him, so maybe it’ll make sense to some of you. Just please bear with me, I’m thinking as I’m typing and my head isn’t entirely in the right place for this.

Here goes. It’s like falling off a precipice. I’m aware that my whole body has tensed up, and my breathing has become incredibly shallow. My stomach is churning. If I were to try and visualise it, I see myself being swept along by a very fast moving current, and I’m keeping myself afloat with a piece of wood. If I stay calm, don’t struggle, and just hang on, the water will eventually calm down and I will be ok. But if I struggle, if I lose my grip on the piece of wood, there is a really strong undercurrent just waiting to grab me and pull me down. I’m aware of this current, so I hold on as tight as I can. I don’t want to go under.
It’s the same with my mood. I’m in no position to comment on what a ‘normal’ mood pattern is, but I suspect that the sudden and dramatic shifts in mood I get are not the norm. I have to work hard to stay calm enough to stay afloat, some times more than others. I feel my mood changing, and if there’s been no event to cause it, then I’m wary, on my guard. If I panic and lose my grip on the piece of wood, I start to sink. Those are the times I want to run away from myself. Those are the times I want to call Therapist, but I can’t, so I end up wandering about facebook trying to find something out about her, anything at all, anything that will create the illusion, however tenuous, of contact with someone who always helps. Or when I want Hubby to wrap me in his arms and just hold me so tight that I know I’ll be ok, that I won’t actually break. It’s a feeling of intense vulnerability, like I’m a small child who’s wandered off and gotten lost, and nothing around me looks familiar – people, places, language – nothing. As if there’s a great gaping hole opening up inside me, threatening to swallow me, and I don’t know how to fill it. Those are the times I want to be as small as possible – if you were to see me sitting down, chances are I’d have my arms wrapped around myself, my legs wrapped around each other and my face buried in a scarf. I want to hide. 
So there are those times. Sometimes, that’s as low as it goes. But if I don’t catch it, there are greater depths. Numb comes next, and honestly, I’m not sure which is harder to handle, because while numb does away with all the fear and loneliness of what I’ve just described, it also makes it so very hard to engage with anything. Numb is when I think of a response to a conversation, but the words get stuck in my throat. Numb is when I think of something I want or need to do, but can’t find a way to make it happen. Numb is when there is no feeling, good or bad, just indifference towards everyone and everything. Numb is standing in the middle of a crowded room, struggling to remember how it is that ‘normal’ people act, and then do it. Numb is in the bubble. And because numb makes it so hard to think or do anything, it’s prime time for Bitchface to take over. I think in a really strange way she’s trying to help me, trying to force me into action, but her methods are cruel and just make things worse. 
I think if I had to choose between the intensity of feeling after the first drop and numb, I’d take feeling, because with feeling there’s still a way out. I still have enough self awareness to know that I need to go a little bit easier on myself, breathe,  slow down, allow myself the time I need regroup. But numb? That’s so much harder to shake off. 
I’m really conscious in writing all of this that it’s pretty heavy going. What I’m describing here is when things get really tough. It’s not where I’m at now. It’s where things could really easily go if I didn’t pay attention to the warning signals. But now, for the most part, I do. So while I’ve had a very rollercoaster few days, at least the rollercoaster means there are some ups as well. Freefall would be so much worse. I think as I’m writing this, as I’m making sense of it for you, I’m making sense of it for me too. I’m coming to a better understanding of how my mind works, and how to try and take back some control when I don’t like the direction I’m going in. And that is something well worth knowing. 
I don’t know who Michael Singer is but clearly he’s a clever person!

This article has 9 Comments

  1. That was so insightful, and brilliantly written. Well done. And if you can express yourself so well when you're not feeling great, then that's a sign of great strength!

  2. Here's to you understanding better how your mind works and how to navigate choppy waters better, cheers (said with imaginery drink as my house is dry tonight, but I do have toasty legs due to sleeping cat)

  3. Nicely written! and very recognisable! I'm with you, it's scary, you feel yourself fall, you feel yourself change from "me" to "the big unknown" and it scares me so, because I know what comes next..
    With my therapist I've now created a traffic light system with green, yellow, orange and red. Every colour I described exactly what I feel, emotional and physically and my husband and I are practising in which colour mood I'm in ( are you slightly orange dear, no, but I'm bright yellow so give me some time)
    I now have to learn exactly where these mood changes start, when I go from yellow to orange, and orange to red, because that can happen so quickly and we all know what happends if I go into red ( explosions or implosions and tears and sucked down in the world of Icannotdoit doom thinking and numbness indeed) .

    I want to learn to see where my warning signs are, so I can cut back on whatever I'm thinking before I get into the thought-train that brings me to the next colour. It's hard, because I try to keep up with thought trains that have been running for years( or so it seems) at lightning speed.
    And it doesn't work yet, the automatic thoughts are too quick and they escape. But at least I can now point out to my husband where I am without having to go into details trying to explain my thoughts, which I cannot do, and which always sound like an excuse for why I'm grumpy or angry. He can give me space, or pull me up by saying something nice, and slowly I start to accept that his reactions are there to help me, not to attack me on what I'm doing wrong. So I listen to them better and try to use them to stay out of red, and preferably out of orange. ( yellow is unavoidable at the moment, green is sometimes only the moment I open my eyes for 1 second and then it's gone, other days are better and green is a few hours )
    pfft. does that make sense? or is it just ramblings of a nutter?
    My traffic light description is in dutch, but I'm happy to translate and send it if you like, I'm sure you'll recognize 🙂

    big hug for you, as describing these feelings means you are standing outside them and not 100% lost in them!
    Annemiek ( Netherlands)

    1. I love the traffic lights idea, have been using it the last couple of days. Makes so much sense and is instantly understandable. If you could send me the translation that would be great, but only if it's not trouble. Last night I was minutes from red but able to recognise it and got to bed and sleep before it took over, back to yellow today. Hope you're having at least a yellow, if not a green day!

    2. Had a wonderful green day today as on a workshop doing nothing but making cake decorations 🙂 Have just send you my traffic light, but it's horrible copying it inhere using an ipad, so will need to do that tomorrow behind the pc. My day ended yellow because I was tired, but I led myself be yellow and didn't demand it to be different.. That's progress!


  4. That sounds like a good system, Annemiek I can imagine muttering "orange" when I don't feel able to commuicate having previously discussed what it means on a good day.
    Ps, you're not rambly at all, rather very clear.

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