I found a pretty cool challenge on a blog from last year – 30 days of mental health posts. I’ve decided to give it a go, despite being a year late to the party! You can also see the other participating posts.
1. What is Dysthymia?
According to Wikipedia the word dysthymia translates to “bad state of mind”. It is:
…a mood disorder consisting of the same cognitive and physical problems as in depression, with less severe but longer-lasting symptoms. The concept was coined…as a replacement for the term “depressive personality”…[sufferers] may believe that depression is a part of their character, so they may not even discuss their symptoms…
I couldn’t have put it better myself! For years, I thought I was a pessimist. A nay-sayer. A negative Nora. It never occurred to me that not everybody looks at life through grey-tinted glasses, perceiving slights in every human interaction and believing themselves to be the least worthy person alive. While simultaneously berating themselves for perceiving slights and believing themselves unworthy. It’s a never-ending circle.
Every day of my youth I got out of bed and I went to school. I got good grades. I had a few friends and I was one of those weird kids who liked their family. Throughout my college years I got out of bed and went to (some) lectures. I got acceptable grades. I had a few close friends. I liked nothing better than an afternoon gossiping in the canteen over tea & biscuits. When I started working I got out of bed every morning and went to my desk. I received positive performance reviews and the odd raise. I enjoyed social nights out, drinking until the small hours. I saved up and bought my first car. I went on group holidays. I fell in love. Did I live? Yes. Was I happy? No.
When you hear that somebody is not happy, you immediately think of bleak days and lonely nights; a person who never gets out of bed or laughs with friends. You picture a person curled in a ball, crying endlessly and wailing at the unfairness of life. Dysthymia is a different type of unhappy. If life was an exercise machine, dysthymia would be akin to having the resistance set to low. It’s not enough to stop you in your tracks, in fact sometimes you might not even notice it. But it’s enough to require you to try a little harder. To impact your performance. And some days, when you’re tired or you’ve used your energy on another machine, it can make it impossible. On those days you just….can’t.