I want to write something inspirational today, because my pride and vanity want everything I post to be eloquent and insightful. But if I truly wish this site to help make others feel less alone, I need to put those aside and write honestly even when I’m not at my best. So, the truth is that writing is slow and difficult today because I’m about 70% of the way through a dip.
The reason I say 70% is that I managed to wash my hair this morning. But I’m still irritable, fuzzy-headed, disoriented, more sleepless than usual, and full of anxious energy that I cannot seem to apply to anything constructive. Thinking too hard about anything gives me that sensation of a brick sitting on my chest and a band tightening around my throat. It started two days ago, hard and fast. So fast that it took me hours to figure out what was going on; I thought the world was just really messed up until I realized that it was me.
It was a few years ago that I started to use the word “dip” to describe times like these. It seemed like a non-threatening term to use for my family and friends, a term that conveyed a sense of things being both trivial and temporary. The temporary part is true. The trivial part is not. But I’m tired of trying to describe how it feels to stare at the wall in horror for no reason, or have a panic attack about a matter I was able to discuss logically yesterday. It’s easier to let them see it as sort of an extreme PMS.
What I call a dip can have qualities of depression, mania or often both. A dip is not as bad as an episode. Episodes last longer, get more severe and require intervention to help them resolve. A dip generally lasts less than a week and will resolve itself if I don’t do anything to make it worse. That’s a BIG if, though. Getting through one without making it worse is a challenge, because all of my impulses are telling me to do things that will make it anything from a little worse to the beginning of episode city:
Impulse #1: Obtain narcotic pills and eat handfuls of them like Pez. Obviously not a good idea, but during a dip the cravings really have teeth. Would send my life on a possibly one-way trip to hell.
Impulse #2: Consume everything edible in our kitchen and then start working my way through the local restaurants. Would make me very ill, screw up my metabolism and start a cycle that practically says “Severe depressive episode welcome here.”
Impulse #3: Take to my bed and huddle under blankets with books and my Ipad, alternately snarling or weeping at anyone who asks me to get up or think. Would prolong dip and create steadily increasing levels of stress as life stacks up outside the bedroom door.
Impulse #4: Get in my car and drive. Don’t look back. Better coolness factor, but same liabilities as #3.
Impulse #5: Treat my spouse to a dip-fueled tirade concerning every issue I’ve ever had with our relationship. Survivable, but would make me lose credibility when I want to have a real conversation about anything.
Impulse #6: All of the above.
How to resist these impulses? In most battles, my mind is my weapon. But when my mind is the problem, I have to find other weapons. Ones that don’t operate logically; ones I would never give a thought to if my usual ones worked. Whether you call them spiritual tools, totems, access to the Self or a hundred other terms, I’m brought closer to them by what I go through.
This is the part where I say that I’m actually grateful to have the challenges I do, because they cause me to grow spiritually. There are times when this is the truth, especially in the last couple of years. But if you have ever felt the way I feel today–even now that I’m starting to come out of it–then you know that I am not grateful today. I still just want out; I want not to feel like this anymore. And I hate that I don’t know how many days I’ll have before it comes back. And I hate that even on the “good” days my mind is often not a nice place to be.
Well, to quote a previous post…this changes nothing. I still have to do my best, and nobody ever told me it would be easy. That’s one reason I need all of you. Thanks for listening.