What I’m struggling to grasp, is how I am to differentiate between ‘down days’ and just normal mood swings. Because lets be honest, we all get a little sad sometimes and we all have crap going on in our lives, regardless if you have depression or not. For me and my depression, there is a very fine line between feeling a bit low and a full blown depressive episode.
A year or so ago when I was slap bang in the middle of recovery there would be plenty of days when I would wake up in tears. It would feel as if there was a crushing weight bearing down on my chest and the day ahead would be too much to cope with. The thought of getting out of bed, facing work or even just walking my dog filled me with dread. Now these situations were easy to dissect, there was obviously something not right and realising this allowed me to make the right adjustments, whether that meant taking time off work, staying in bed for the whole day or calling up my counsellor to have a chat, I could work it out. That was my depression.
Now I wake up each day and most of the time I’m good, I function, I’m happy and the days go by smoothly. But this leaves me with the question; has my depression gone? Have I recovered from this as well as my eating disorder? Or is it just lurking in one of the darker corners of my mind just waiting to drown me again? Maybe it has simply just eased up. As I’ve grown on my journey of recovery maybe my depression has shrunk, or maybe I’m just better equipped to deal with it.
My ‘down days’ (as I like to call them) are in no way as severe as they used to be, which of course is great news. But there is an ongoing battle in my mind, trying to work out whether I’m still sick, wondering on the days I’m feeling slightly low if I should take time off work just in case it’s the start of something bigger. I feel the need to protect myself from possible slip ups, but at what cost? Sickness days at work soon pile up, your friends are left wondering why you’re always ducking out of plans and there comes a point when you have to work out, is this depression or is this just me not bothering because my habits of hiding from the world have become so ingrained. But I guess these two issues can coexist and that is where the problem lies.
So really, I suppose it comes down to you and how well you know yourself. Knowing that you won’t break from ‘feeling’ your feelings, pushing yourself to get up and be active on the days you feel the depression might be sneaking up on you instead of ‘protecting’ yourself from it, because what’s the point of wrapping yourself in cotton wool if it means you can’t live your life? Then, if the day comes when you really need a time out, just know that it is okay to do so and that at the end of the day, you are only human.