Earlier this week I responded to a post from JJ over at Dys n’ Dat about how she knows a depression is looming. I replied:
I’m usually in it before I realise it. Then it dawns on me that I’ve lost touch with what my boyfriend is doing, what project he has at work, which of his friends is currently doing something stupid, etc. We live together and I won’t have really talked to him in days!
It got me thinking about when I have these revelations and how it’s usually a slow dawning that it takes me time to fully admit to my consciousness. I don’t ever want to be in a down phase & I never like admitting to myself that my partner has been suffering because of it. Of course as a depressed person my first thought was “wow, you’re so not self-aware like she is, you suck”, but on reflection I think my self-awareness is actually on the other end! The signs I look for are the signs that I’m out the other side.
That may seem kind of stupid – why does anyone need signs to tell them they’re not depressed. Hello, isn’t it obvious! But sometimes, when it’s been a particularly long period or when your emotions have been especially wrung out, it doesn’t occur to you that you’re on the up until you’re well into it.
For me, the best sign that the dark days are passing is when I cook dinner. When I’m in a dark place I forget to eat. If my boyfriend didn’t cook food or bring home take-out I would exist on toast or cereal or even nothing at all. I will think about making food (usually prompted by an attack of the “should”s) and I will even get as far as deciding what to make. But I won’t get as far as the front door, never mind the supermarket. Of course that just feeds into my self-loathing – how useless, not even able to go to the shops & make a simple meal. I had this very thing happen this week. I was standing at my cooker, making mac & cheese. It dawned on me that not only had I made something new that required effort, I had chosen a recipe online, I had gone to the supermarket, I had unpacked the groceries and I had returned to the kitchen an hour before dinner and started preparing the meal. And I realised that I felt energised and awake and fully engaged with the world. Wow!
Then I realised that I’ve had several of those moments in the last few years. I will be standing in front of a shepherd’s pie or a lasagne or some other meal that requires actual ingredients and effort and I will realise that it’s the first time in days/weeks/months (delete as applicable) that I’ve had the energy or the inclination to engage in the world. Of course then I realise I also have to do the dishes!