For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird on a roof. (Psalm 102)
This part of Psalm 102 really hit me as seeming to quite accurately describe how having depression can sometimes feel like. I especially feel the imagery captures some of my experience.
Days can often seem to disappear. I go through the motions, but I look back and I can't think of what those days contained. It's like going through life in a haze, everything is obscured. Before you know it, days are flying by and you can't seem to grasp them.
Some days you wake up and you are so tired you can feel it deep in your bones. The inexplicable aches and pains, are just some of the physical symptoms of depression.
It can feel like I have stopped caring, my heart has shriveled up and I'm no longer able to feel. I go numb and I start to disconnect.
I have already talked in a previous post about how my depression can affect my eating habits.
"Like an owl among ruins". This feels symbolic of me looking out over my life and thinking that it hasn't gone too well. That I've messed things up. In the depths of my depression I have felt that there is no hope, and everything is forever ruined. I know now that that is not the case, but I can still sometimes feel that lonly feeling of being alone in a wilderness.
I can disconnect from reality sometimes, it's like I'm not really in the world. I'm not affecting the world, and I'm just passing through passively. Things are happening to me, and I'm vaguely aware of them but everything is muffled slightly.
I've been struggling a bit with everyday life recently. It's been especially difficult to find the motivation to go shopping and cook myself proper food.
I've had several times recently when I've gone into a shop with the intention of buying things, wandered round the shop, and then left empty handed. My brain tells me I don't deserve food, that I can't afford it (even though I can) and that they don't stock anything I want. They usually do stock most things I need, I just can't motivate myself to find them, or to try different shops.
I'm quite ambitious with my cooking, I like to cook meals from scratch with fresh ingredients where possible. I still occasionally have pizza and fast food, but the majority of my meals are home cooked. This usually works brilliantly, when I'm feeling up to it, I cook a few huge meals and freeze them into portions to be reheated. The problem comes when I run out of meals in my freezer, and when this coincides with a low period. I end up surviving on what little I have left, biscuits and toast.
I've recently stocked up again with soup and also cooked a few tasty meals which will last me for a while long so I feel I am coming out of this rough patch somewhat. I try to be prepared for this happening by always keeping the freezer stocked, but it can take me by surprise and by the time I've realised things aren't going to well it can be too late.
At times like this it's very hard to do anything. Getting up, and washed and dressed feels like a gigantic effort. To leave my room, cook, and do chores is another huge task. Then we add making it to class, and doing homework. This is where I start to fail, skipping class and not handing in work. I don't have the energy to spare on study when it's taking everything I have to keep myself alive and ticking.
My anxiety grows, my brain is clamouring, you need to do the things. You need to study, to work on the group project, to hand in your work, to attend lectures. You need to socialise, why are you getting so tired.
But the fact is, I can't. I'm barely managing to keep myself going, and it's absolutely okay to be focussing on that right now. It's understandable that after an hour in the kitchen surrounded by flatmates that you would be tired. After going into uni, you are allowed to take some time to relax and treat yourself. You do deserve praise for achieving even the most basic self care.
you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up (Psalm 71:20)
During my daily Bible reading this was part of the Psalm that really stood out to me. I've been experiencing a lot of ups and downs in my mood lately and today has been a bit of a low day so this made me feel like God was reaching down to me and promising that things will get better again.
I was diagnosed with depression about 4 years ago. It made sense, I was feeling very low, self harming and had been having suicidal thoughts. If anything, I was happy to have the diagnosis, as I felt it legitimised the difficulties I was having, when my parents were telling me it wasn't a big deal.
I recently found out that I may have a borderline personality disorder. I haven't been officially diagnosed as far as I know, but my mental health nurse listed some of the symptoms and asked me if I thought they applied to me, and gave me some information on it. He thinks that the bpd support group and therapy they run would be helpful for me.
Now, I have to admit when I first heard him say bpd I was terrified. It made me feel broken in a completely different way to simply having depression. It felt like I was reaching a whole new level of mental illness, and it scared me. I think the name itself is very intimidating, and also the connotations a 'personality disorder' seems to come with. It feels like an attack on your very personhood.
I spent the rest of the day reading about bpd, and crying. Crying because of how some of the symptoms have been affecting my life without me even realising it. I never knew that my relationship difficulties could be part of a disorder. It made me feel so broken, and yet now I can see that actually this can give me hope. Hope that it is possible for me to change my life, learn how to live with who I am, and my flaws, and learn the skills to be able to do life more successfully.
A revolutionary thing I learnt around this time last year, was that recovery isn't about becoming like everyone else, or reaching a point where you're 'cured'. It's about embracing your differences and learning to live with your illness. Recovery means you learn more skills to cope, and are able to live life fully.
It's just over two weeks until my next appointment with my mental health nurse, but I have decided that I think DBT, the type of therapy I'm being offered, could be helpful for me and I would like to try it. I also think that bpd fits, with many of the symptoms applying to me.
One aspect I think is slightly tricky though, and has made me have a good think, is the identity aspect. A bpd can cause a person's identity to be unstable, with them not knowing who they are, or it changing frequently. Being trans, this initially worried me, making me question whether it is as a result of having a bpd. I have come to the conclusion that I don't think it is, because some aspects of my identity do change from time to time, but my gender identity has remained steady for a couple of years now. It has been constant when so many other things in my life have changed. Also I have been seen by many mental health professionals, including one gender specialist and none of them have ever linked the two.