Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Well, crap.

I've clearly gone from Holiday Blues to a full-fledged depressive episode. How do I know? The following constellation of symptoms:

1. Very suddenly having both insomnia (secondary) and hypersomnia -- extremely difficult time even waking up, let alone actually getting out of bed. I'm usually one of those people who is wide-awake and happy right off the bat in the morning. (The sudden onset is especially telling.)

2. Everything in my life--and I mean everything--suddenly seems not only pointless but also doomed to failure.

3. I've lost interest and enthusiasm for things and activities that usually please me. (Even squirrel-feeding is less exciting than usual.) Things seem grey and dull.

4. Depressed mood. (This seems obvious, but depressed mood can just be situational, and on the other hand one can be quite depressed without actually feeling sad.) However, considering everything else, it's part of a pattern. I've actually been waking myself up in the middle of the night by sobbing in my sleep, and also experiencing weeping in the morning, which is (again) unusual for me.

5. Situation pattern: I have often gotten depressed shortly after I've accomplished something, or worked really hard at completing something, or gotten something I really wanted, or even just gotten excited about something for a few days. This clearly fits that pattern. (If my emotions were an oscilloscope output, it would be the drop after a big spike of some kind.)

Now, this might sound bad. (And I certainly don't enjoy it, though I am lucky in that it doesn't generally get bad enough make me non-functional as it does some people.) However, it always makes me feel better when I finally realize I'm actually having a depressive episode. This sounds perverse, but bear with me.

Recognizing that it is actually depression means that :

1. All the negative assessments, pessimistic predictions, and awfulizations about everything and everyone I've found myself making lately are likely not based on reality and will change when the depression fades, so things in my life might not be as bad as I fear, and

2. Nearly all depression fades within 2 weeks, which is not only my clinical training but also my personal experience. In fact for me it's usually quite a bit less, so all I have to do is wait it out.
Okay, so it's not only that I must wait it out, but also that I should not make any big decisions or important assessments based on my feelings while I'm still depressed. I must temporarily take my negative ideas about things with a grain of salt.

Recognizing what's going on, I now get to go easy on myself and allow the mood to flow "through" me in a zen-like fashion instead of taking it too seriously. And I also must stop trying to "snap out of it" (which is a treatment that works for no-one, yet we all still try to do it to ourselves!)

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