Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes
I always walk through the woods when it’s light outside. Yet, the more I walk through the woods, the darker the sky becomes. It’s not like it’s storming or anything. The light becomes less scarce, the forest thicker. The branches above become so interwoven that I can’t even see the stars. Only moonlight is able to trickle through the narrow spaces in the branches, but I can’t see anymore. My eyes try to adjust. They won’t. All I can do is feel my way around until I stumble on to the forest floor.
I cannot get back up.
Instead I drag my body through the forest, waiting for daylight to break through. I should sleep; however, insomnia won’t let me. No matter how exhausted I am, I attempt to swim along the floor, its current of forest decay making my progress difficult.
Morning is too far away. I can’t squeeze through the trees, so I have to stop and lay there, counting down the agonizing seconds, minutes, and hours until morning comes. It feels forever. It will come, though. I know it will come.
For the moment that doesn’t seem to matter. What currently matters is that I’m stuck in a dark forest with no light, and I could die from a number of things trapped within the darkness.
People fear the darkness because they don’t know what’s in it. That’s why we’re urged to stay inside when night comes. Maybe that’s why we sleep at night. We’d rather face the darkness of our eyelids than the darkness surrounding us.
I’ve slipped into another episode, almost around the same time I slipped into another depressive episode last year. For once I thought I was going to be able to celebrate being depression-free for a year, which would have occurred in December, but I guess that was hoping for too much.
I said I wasn’t naive enough to know I was never going to slip into another episode again, but I was hoping I would at least have a few years reprieve from it, maybe having to adjust my medication for my anxiety or some hypomanic episode I might fall into.
The depression gets ridiculously exhausting. It always comes at the most inconvenient moments. The quarter just started for me, and oh joyous me, I’m taking two classes that are reading heavy–and I know I will not be able to read everything feeling the way I do. When I read the syllabi, I was already laden with anxiety, which I struggled with a week before seeing my therapist again, which was last week, I think. So before seeing her, I doubled up on my Klonopin. Now I have content edits to deal with, edits I vowed just this Monday to get done within a week. I won’t be able to do that.
Despite the irritability and anxiety, I had the drive to do so, that fresh drive, the buzzing excitement that the sequel was worth working on because of last month’s sales–and possibly this month’s–that I EARNED through hard promotional work that is fun for me, a genuine break from writing itself.
I lost that drive yesterday. Just like that. I was climbing to what I thought would be the pinnacle of awesomeness in my writing career. I had just finished a book my friend/content editor loved, one I WAS excited about getting back to when content edits for When Stars Die‘s sequel were finished. I got my royalty check yesterday, but I was apathetic about that. Unfortunately, at that pinnacle was a Shadowman whose unnerving powers were to make me depressed.
It’s not burnout. I know the feeling of that. I experienced this when I was working as much as possible, taking philosophy and communication classes, trying to cram in writing, and doing dance three times a week–10.5 hours of it. I wasn’t unhappy, though. Just exhausted. I felt accomplished at the same time. But my goodness was I tired. Definitely not unhappy or depressed though.
I scaled back on the writing, which got rid of the burnout. Not to mention I was incredibly excited about my ankle surgery and the two necessary weeks I’d have off from work. And those two weeks were incredible. No work. No ballet. Just lots and lots of writing and working on my school courses. And the amazing progress my ankle was making, so amazing that my progress brought me near to tears. I could finally balance again and do adagio with no issues. I could do calf raises without the pain of a piece of bone stabbing me. Those things were and are a HUGE deal to me.
The point is that I’m trying to say while burnout makes me exhausted, I know what to do to get rid of it before it becomes a hindrance.
I thought maybe The Red Dot Special was doing it to me, the build-up-depression thing, but I usually have its opening act before she comes along–not while she’s already here, performing so loudly that I feel like my uterus is going to split in half. My anxiety was off the charts. My irritability and moodiness were giving me unkind thoughts and frustrations at the littlest of things. I had three weeks off from school. I was incredibly happy to be able to write so much. I was also very, very happy at all the work hours I was getting and the money I was making. I was happy I got the book with my asexual MC done before school started. I was excited about starting ballet, even though I knew that meant less writing and the possibility that I’d have to scale back on my work hours. I wasn’t too excited about school, because I’ve never really liked literature courses to begin with. But it’s a necessary evil.
I WAS excited.
Now I’m not.
During depression, the things you once loved, were once excited about, are things you can’t bring yourself to love or be excited about anymore. However, I know dance will help me, even if temporarily. It always does.
Robin Williams’ death left me emotionally numb on the day I heard about it–until I realized that other people felt the EXACT SAME THING that I did. Libba Bray in a post she wrote in March expressed the exact same fears that I did: if these greats couldn’t make it, will I get to a point where I won’t be able to tolerate these feelings anymore that I go out the same way? So the next day after Williams’ death, I had gone on to accept it because of other people’s stories. My feelings weren’t special snowflakes. I wasn’t the only one who cried because I understood depression and suicidal feelings. So even before Williams’ death I knew something was wrong. I was just hoping it would go away when The Red Dot Special’s show ended, and I could leave at least knowing I wasn’t pregnant–which, as an asexual, I don’t have to worry about too much to begin with.
The feelings wouldn’t go away. They only intensified.
I thought it was just anxiety alone, so I kept taking my two Klonopin, sometimes forgetting to take one. I drank coffee, only to discover my anxiety was heightened when it drained from my system. I had one glass of vodka mixed with Sprite, which definitely calmed me. I only put in enough to make the Sprite taste like grape soda so that I couldn’t even taste the alcohol, so it’s not like I was drinking it to get buzzed or drunk. Just enough to enjoy the taste and chill.
Then I realized what was going on, what was happening. All the signs and symptoms were there. They were just slowly building up, like they always do. First it’s the irritability and anxiety, which persist and get worse. Then it’s craving nothing but sweets to a ridiculous degree that I’d buy sweets every chance I could. Then I began to feel very reckless: having the urge to get drunk, to smoke, to just do something absolutely insane THAT IS NOT ME. Then my sleep began to change to the point where I was able to fall asleep, but I kept waking up, then falling asleep, waking up, then falling asleep. This made me think I was getting hypomanic, because I wasn’t taking the same dosage of Seroquel I was on to get me out of that episode I had a few months ago. Yet, it didn’t feel like that, because I started to feel fatigued, wanting to take naps more often without being pissed that I needed one, as naps usually interrupt my productivity.
So all of this built and built and built, until on Monday, I went to bed emotionally exhausted, needing to snuggle my Hello Kitty, which I only do when I’m depressed. Then Tuesday I woke up starting to feel it. I content edited five chapters, blogged, but after that…nothing. Then Wednesday I contented edited five more chapters…then nothing. I began to lose my appetite. I lost my craving for sweets. Then Thursday it all came full force, a violent whirlpool I couldn’t pull away from. I didn’t want to eat, still don’t want to eat. I didn’t want to do anything and still don’t want to do anything.
Today I just want to lie in bed and cry a little bit. In fact, I cried a little bit while writing this.
Now I know I need to see a new therapist, but I can’t bring myself to seek out a new one. I desperately miss my old one, but she moved. She is irreplaceable.
Depression comes on slowly then all at once. It’s walking through that bright, sunny forest, only for the sky to get progressively dim. You have that brief, beautiful sunset. Then darkness, about eight hours of it, I think. Those eight hours feel forever.
I know all I need to do is make a call to my pdoc and request an uppage on my Lamictal…or something. I plan to call next week. Yet I know these next few days–or even weeks until the new dosage kicks in–are going to be absolutely agonizing.
I’m glad I don’t have to tell my parents when I’m depressed. They just know the signs until Dad eventually comes in and talks to me and I can open up with no problem. Even so, it’s awkward to go up to your parents or even people who understand and say you’re depressed. It’s a thing you can’t see. It’s so easy for me to call into work and say I have the flu or something. It’s even harder to call into work and say I just can’t do it because I’m depressed. It’s especially more difficult because you know the flu or the cold or whatever will go away.
You don’t know when depression is going to go away, if you’re going to feel a little bit better the next day to, you know, LIVE.
I can’t do it today. I can’t live right now. I will go to work though. I know it will help me. It helped me Thursday night. I love working with people who bare their hearts to me, because I’m not afraid to bare my heart back. But it is going to be so difficult to get dressed and to even eat before I go.