Recognizing and adjusting…

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Mentally and emotionally, I feel hung over.

The last couple of weeks have been challenging, but I feel like I am finally making good progress in my climb out of the valley of depression. Getting my sleep figured out has definitely been helping. The last couple of days especially, I’ve been feeling much more balanced, though extremely fatigued.

I feel like I’m at the point in my depressive episode cycle where my brain is starting to finally slow down, and my body is following suit. With how busy I was in March, I was pushed mentally and physically. The only problem is, when I started slowing, physically I was able to, but mentally my brain was still racing, cycling through variations of “I’m not good enough” and “why am I trying?”

Sadly, once I start recovering, my brain usually lags a few days behind my body, hence my moods and emotions being all over the place. As I move out of the depressive episode, I always feel mentally and physically trashed. The fact I am feeling it right now is a good thing, because it means I’m moving beyond the episode. Surprisingly, I did so without needing significant medical intervention, though the emergency doctor was good enough to help out with sleep medications.

Three or four years ago, an episode like this would have easily landed me in hospital. Now, I recognize as I cycle, and am able to make accommodations for it, getting in front of things before they get too far out of hand. I’m recognizing the stages, the commonalities, of my symptoms each time, and instead of getting as distressed as I used to, I’m finding I’m able to cope better.

Don’t get me wrong. These experiences are still mentally painful. They are mentally draining. I wouldn’t wish the experience on my worst enemy.

It’s easy to find reasons to get down on myself. I haven’t been shooting in months. I haven’t done any creative writing in even longer. The house is a mess, and budgets are tight. There is no shortage of things to be stressed about. Believe me, I feel each and every one.

My problem is, in the past I would get myself worn out and let the stresses build up. It would paralyze me with indecision and fear. My mental health symptoms would be triggered, and my moods would crash. I would fall into self-harm and feeling suicidal.

What’s changed?

A lot actually.

My perspective has changed.

I still feel stressed, and my moods definitely are all over the place at times, but I recognize the feelings. I recognize the stages my body goes through as it goes through an episode. Recognizing the symptoms takes their power away. There’s a difference between having the thoughts, and acting on them.

It doesn’t take the stress away, but how I handle it is different. I spend some time gaming. I walk the dogs. Plus, I have work and school keeping me amply busy.

Something else I am coming to realize is, like it or not, I do deal with SIGNIFICANT mental health issues. I have four separate diagnoses. Being inside my head is not a fun place on a good day, let alone a bad one. I am not neurotypical.

What does that mean?

In short, I am more susceptible to these episodes. There are things I have to do to keep them at bay. Things such as making sure I get proper sleep and exercise. I also need to recognize the fact that it’s not a matter of If they will happen, but when. I need to be able to recognize the symptoms so I can ride out the accompanying storms. To that end, I am making significant progress.

Those changes come down to small changes.

Going to bed earlier, making sure I get my rest. Making sure I take my meds. Creating time to spend with Lynn. Make some time to get back into my creative writing.

Just because I deal with the mental health issues that I do doesn’t mean I am out of the race. I just have to play by slightly different rules.

Kevin

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