Sunday, February 22, 2009

It is so Difficult Most of the Time

Two incredible bloggers, Lola, from "Marine Snow" , and Hannah, from "Becoming Hannah" posted a comment on my post titled, "Benevolent Structure".

Hannah's blog reflects upon her struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, and Lola writes about her challenges living with an eating disorder; both work through the blackness of depression on a regular basis. I feel so much in common with both these bloggers. There comments reverberated a common difficulty I am sure many people with mental illnesses encounter: Motivation difficulties.

Hannah writes that with the people around to encourage her to create she creates. Home alone, with all the tools, materials etc. to create she has a difficult time getting going. In her words: "I need someone to nudge me along otherwise I scrabble back under the duvet and curse myself.".

Lola's comment is different, but I think is a similar problem. She writes that the more she stays in bed, the more she wants to, and does, stay in bed. She writes, "If I don't get up with a purpose on a Saturday then i spend all weekend in bed moping, sort of like this weekend. Trouble is I am so exhausted by a Friday, that the only thing which gets me through is the thought of a lie in on the Saturday!!!"

I relate so much to both comments it is frightening. I have pretty much stayed in bed since Friday at 4:30, only getting up to walk the dog, blog and go to a Flamenco show I had committed to seeing on Saturday Night. Like Hannah, I need a pull, a tug, a commitment to get going...that's okay, many people who are well need that too.

Like Lola's experiences...the more I slept, the more I NEEDED to sleep. In fact right now I want so badly to crawl back into bed. I have already given up trying to paint this morning (I managed for about 15 minutes and simply couldn't do it)

To top it all off last night at the Flamenco show I had huge problems with "disappearing" and "disconnecting" at the Flamenco show last night. I found myself unable to talk, or feel like I belonged during the wine and cheese reception afterwards, and during the show I kept dissociating.

However...had I not gone to the show I would have missed two of the most incredible Flamenco dances I have ever seen. Both were by the same dancer and I have NEVER seen so much passion in flamenco before. It is always passionate, sensual and outright sexual, but this dancer had the ability to drag me out of my dissociative state, to hold my interest.

I felt her dancing inside my body, in the way your body reacts to a sexual come on, or enticement. It was amazingly erotic. The only way I got out last night was by making a commitment to a friend to go. I would have missed two stunning dances, and would not have known of this dancer had I not known. I discovered she dances at different venues around the I have something I enjoyed that I can experience again.

Sleep is a narcotic. It pulls you in and holds you hostage. The more sleep I get the more I want to sleep. Depression is like a drug too. The more you succumb to its power, the more you stop doing things because you don't have the motivation, or the energy, or the will, the more power depression gains on you. It is so difficult. It is not easy. It requires external help to both create and participate in a benevolent schedule of activities.

  1. For me that external help is a little caring "pressure" from Dr. X...a few questions about what I am doing next week, a soft commitment to do them, and a desire to please him, is in part what keeps me mostly on track.
  2. Commitments with friends to visit, to do activities, and sometimes a gentle competition between us to do the things we want to do, helps me too.
  3. Commitments to others (like volunteering to teach art) keeps me getting out of bed, even if I don't want to.
  4. A commitment and love for my dog gets me outside at least a few times a day, rain or shine

...and you get the picture. This benevolent structure only happens if I have a caring structure in place to get me moving, to get me out of bed, to make me want to be actively participating in my life. ...and no it isn't easy. It sucks sometimes and it is always hard work. I do however believe in the long run it will pay off for me.


Harriet said...

It's interesting about depression. When I think of depression I imagine people staying in bed all day, never showering, never talking to anyone, not going anywhere. And I'm sure there are people who do experience depression in that way.

I have a different way of dealing with my issues (I'm in denial about depression, so I don't ever say I have it). I guess because my mother enforced "productivity", whether by example or by explicit demands, I find that the more down I am the more I schedule. When I look at my calendar and see the whole day filled with activities, every single day, I know something is up.

But I think it is important to do what one's body and mind needs, whether that is to stay in bed for a whole day, or to go out for 15 hours in a row.

Structure is good, but, as with all good things, it can be overdone.

Aqua said...

Hi Harriet,
I absolutely agree that too much structure, or a compulsion to schedule your entire day is not healthy.

My depressions used to be that way. It was drilled into my head my entire childhood and even now that people need to be productive. So that was how I dealt with my depression, by overworking.

I am not sure why, but about 7.5 years ago, when I fell into this depressive episode, I began to experience intense exhaustion, far worse than any depression I had had before. My mood kept sinking deeper and deeper, far beyond the severity I had ever experienced before. And the depression stuck to me harder than I could ever have imagined was possible. I am still stuck, but my mood is better than it was for all those years.

I think with my depressionnever being treated, or being yndertreated for so long, my body and mind just finally burned out.