I’ve gotten pretty guarded with my heart. It’s hard for me to trust and let people in. I did it, though; I allowed one person in through my defences. Someone who felt safe, or so I thought.
Then, at a moment when I chose to be vulnerable, I was knocked to the ground, and then trampled on a bit for good measure.
I was somewhat (okay, a lot more than somewhat) broken to begin with. Depression has become my ever-present companion, and it’s really been slowing me down both literally and figuratively for months. It makes it hard sometimes to know how much of my reactions are fuelled by the depression and how much is just me having a normal human response.
After the initial flurry of emotions and tears post-knocking and trampling, my mind settled into a self-protective slowness. It’s like my brain is put on ice to preserve it until the stress is gone. It’s a survival mechanism, but it doesn’t allow me to do much beyond just surviving. It certainly doesn’t do good things for my writing output.
My body has slowed down, too. Any movement feels like I’m hauling myself through thick molasses, which has made me stiff all over.
My sleep schedule was admittedly odd to begin with, going to bed around 6 p.m. and getting up at 2 a.m. Now, I’m exhausted by the time afternoon rolls around, and I’m in bed at 5 p.m. I wake up around 11 p.m. There’s something especially frustrating about going to bed and then waking up when it’s still the same day.
My gut has been in an unhappy place, which is a pretty typical stress reaction for me. Cramps and gas are fun. My appetite’s not great, and junk food is the only thing that’s had the slightest bit of appeal. Going to the grocery store is a rather monumental undertaking that doesn’t really seem worth it. This part seems more depression-related, because if it was just a stress reaction I would be loading up on Ben & Jerry’s and potato chips.
Aside from that, though, in this heart-mind-body state of brokenness, is it even remotely possible to tease apart how much is depression and how much is heartbreak?
In general I don’t tend to be that quick to jump to conclusions about emotions or other reactions as being illness-based or “normal”. I try to keep an open mind about both possibilities.
In this case it seems perfectly logical that heartbreak is front and centre. However, if it’s at the top of the Jenga tower and depression is knocking crucial pieces out of the base, I’m in a bit more trouble.
That means, just like any other time a major (or not so major) circumstantial stressor comes along, I have to reevaluate how I’m managing my depression.
Over the last few years, even at the best of times I’ve been barely holding it together. It’s not for lack of trying, but the illness has developed a perpetual middle finger aimed squarely in my direction.
While there are a variety of little things I do to manage my illness, the only thing that substantially props up the wobbly Jenga tower is medication dose increases. Yet there’s only so much room to increase, and I like to leave myself wiggle room so that I can go up without hesitation if psychosis or suicidal ideation enters the picture.
That brings me to right now. How much do I give myself permission to be heartbroken and feel like crap because that’s how these things are supposed to work? Or do I try for some defensive manoeuvring to prop up my Jenga tower?
I really don’t know yet, and it’s something I’ll give a bit more thought to before talking it over with my doctor. I know that he’ll back me whatever I think is right, but I still need a little more time to tease apart my brokenness.