Today started with a heavy emptiness that definitely did not want filling with food. I sat at the kitchen table, sipping slowly at a small glass of pineapple juice, and felt slow and weighed down and low in my spirits.
I retreated into my cocoon – bed, under the duvet, with daytime television on in the background.
I worried about lunch, but when I was called I found I was able to consume a small amount. I was even able to explain that at times like this I find it hard to eat meat, or anything that tastes too strong.
My pastor came to visit, and by the time I had finished my cup of tea and slice of cake, I was feeling on a more even keel. After he left, I was able to go out for a walk on my own (but having a phone conversation in case the bad thoughts came back and caught me unawares).
None of this is particularly surprising. Much as I hate friends and family saying, “It will pass…” or, “You’ve got through this before; you’ll get through it again…” The fact of the matter is, they are right. I do slip from a crisis to a relatively good place quickly. Too quickly.
I know I should be pleased, but actually I find these rapid shifts in mood disconcerting. I am not stable. That may manifest itself in a sudden descent into a crisis, but it may also be seen in a speedy upswing through “feeling better” into “I can do anything”. And neither state is helpful.
People tend to only see the quick improvement. They tend to assume that because I will “snap out of it” in a day or two, that the crisis is not painful, upsetting, or dangerous. The also talk as if it is my fault when I take on too much in a good phase – they talk about me “not listening” and “stubbornly going ahead” with new projects. They fail to see that the over-active and hyper-energetic state is just as much part of my problem as the low, depressive, helpless state. I can no more prevent the first than I can avoid the second.
I try, I try very hard, to find a balance. To keep busy but not too busy. To avoid both lethargy and stress. To achieve that all-important even keel. But it is difficult. Because what I can do one day, I can’t do the next. Which makes any kind of long-term planning or strategy practically impossible.
My bad days are not the sum of my sickness. They are just one side of a see-saw that is perpetually in motion. And I am struggling to kind my balance in the middle.
Which any child will tell you is practically impossible.