Adjusting My Sails (Part 1)

back on my feet

 

(Language warning if you need that. *waves to family*)

I got knocked down, guys. Hard. I thought I had depression under control… I forgot that control is shaky at best when dealing with a black dog this big and mean.

Much as I don’t like to talk about it and hard as it is to post about this, I think it’s helpful to do so. I wish I’d known more people with depression when I was first struggling with it. I wish more people I liked or admired or just knew about showed me how they dealt with it, how they live good lives in spite of the fact that this shadow is always hovering over them. I wish I’d had more people to say “Yeah, this thing fuckin’ sucks. This is exactly as hard as it seems, so don’t let anyone minimize your struggle. But you are so much stronger than you think. You will beat this. And then you’ll beat it again. And it will always be worth fighting.”

So here we are, talking about it. I was really low for a while. This is a snapshot of me getting back on my feet, promising to blow shit open and get back in control of my life.

Note: This is how I’m approaching the fight this time around. It’s not advice. It’s not necessarily the best way of fighting, but it’s what’s working for me right now. And if you’re lost in your own Despair right now, this is me saying that you’re not alone. This thing is beatable, and there’s no shame in your struggle. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help or with taking care of yourself.

‘Kay?

‘Kay.

This was my fourth or fifth big battle with depression since I was diagnosed about fifteen years ago, but this round seemed particularly unfair in its origin. It started in November, when a doctor decided to put me on antidepressants to treat my migraines in spite of the fact that I don’t have a great record with the drug he prescribed. It knocked me flat, emotionally speaking, and made my previously non-existent anxiety spike hard. I started getting off the drugs before Christmas, but the damage was done. I was not only down, but stuck.

See, when someone pushes you into a pit, the fact that they’ve stopped pushing doesn’t magically get you back to the surface. And eliminating the trigger, whether it’s chemical or situational, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to bounce right back from depression. Sometimes you do, and that’s wonderful. But not always.

It took two weeks for the pills to turn me into an emotionally-flat-yet-terribly-anxious mix of Eeyore and Piglet. It’s taken me months to get myself back to anything like normal.

Well, you know. Normal for me.

I haven’t been sad. That would require energy. I’ve been… not. I was not myself. I was not enjoying anything. I was not functioning as well as I should have, though I forced myself through editing and a book release during the worst of it. I was not thinking clearly. I was not able to take care of myself. I was just not.

Except for that frigging anxiety. That was a something that was, but that contributed a great deal to the not.

But this wasn’t my first rodeo. Though the trigger might have been a new one for me, I was walking through a dark country I’d seen before. Hell, I have the souvenir t-shirt, and I’m pretty sure my next trip will qualify me for dual citizenship. And I’ve found my way out before. I’ve had help, and I’ve fought hard. I knew I could do it again.

And I am. I’ve waited to post about it, because I didn’t want to bring anyone down (and quite frankly, I didn’t want to worry my mother if she was reading). I’m feeling better. We’re cool. I’m back to the edge of the pit. Dangerously close, but confident enough to turn around and raise my middle fingers to the depths.

So how am I fighting the drag, the lag, the damned inertia of depression? Again, this is not advice for anyone else. This is just me. NEVER TAKE ADVICE FROM ME ON ANYTHING EVER.

I force myself to move. To do something. To roll out of bed. To shower. To make the bed. To cook one good meal. To walk the dog when a nice-ish day presents itself. To stretch for five minutes. To write one blog post (hi, there!) or work for ten minutes. Sometimes one thing is all I can do, but sometimes I get a little momentum that I can use for one more thing. And one more.

I let myself breathe. I extend deadlines when I can so that anxiety has less to scream in my ear about. I let myself bounce from book to book when nothing is grabbing me during reading time, and I refuse to feel guilty when the popular thing I should love doesn’t make me swoon. I refuse to feel guilty about not being up to cooking an amazing supper every night.

I make sure my kids know that I love them, that my mood isn’t their fault, and that it’s totally cool to wear the same shirt three days in a row if someone isn’t 100% on top of the laundry. *cough*

I take days off from social media when it becomes more stressful than relaxing, and I use that time to read or re-focus.

I take my damn vitamins and get as much sun on my skin as I can. Winter in Newfoundland is hard.

And I give myself therapy. Sort of. I ask myself questions, I dig deep, and I figure shit out. It’s hard work. Really hard. But I’m making progress.

This post is already running long, so I’m going to leave it at that for now. Next time, I’ll tell you what I dug up when I asked myself some hard questions.

Yeah, it’s writing-related. And it could change everything for me.

 

(PS: check out the song I referenced at the top. I loves it, I do.)

Part 2 here

 

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

23 responses to “Adjusting My Sails (Part 1)

  • authorswilliams

    Sometimes ‘liking’ posts like this gives the wrong impression. I only like it because I have been dealing with a stupid postpartum edition of depression. I am more like standing on the edge of that gaping hole, terrified to fall into it. I’m so glad to read someone else’s story of walking through that pit and climbing back up the other side. I hate that out of control feeling that I get , that things in life I used to be able to control feel crazy. Also, it makes me really angry all the time…things are finally improving for me. I think it’s partially postpartum hormones and the birth control that I had been taking. Anytime I take any kind of BC it shoves me toward a depression state. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s appreciated and It gives me the courage to share some of mine. 🙂

    • Kate Sparkes

      I’m so glad to hear it helps! You’re definitely not alone. I had a horrible time with my depression during both of my pregnancies–actually, this is why we stopped after two kids. Wanting to be dead while you’re trying to bring life into the world is horrible, as I imagine postpartum depression is. Everyone expecting this to be the happiest time in your life, and you’re holding on by your fingernails, trying not to curl up into a ball and scream… Hormones are screwed up, man.

      I hope things continue to improve for you.

  • Ruth Nestvold

    *hugs*

    I’ve never been diagnosed with depression (maybe in part because I’m too damn stubborn), but during a Really Bad Situational Life Phase ™, during which apathy hit me hard, I splurged and got myself an EnergyLight. Obviously, what was wrong with me wasn’t just SAD, since I haven’t turned the thing on for years, but I think it helped at the time. And I suspect winters in Germany and winters in Newfoundland might be similar in terms of lack of sun. 🙂

  • Nichole McGhie

    I’ve had depression before and it is very much like trying to climb out of a pit. I’m glad that you are “climbing.” I think you’re doing a good job. I’ve done all the things you’ve done too and they do help. Something recent that I found has been adding a morning turmeric drink to my routine. I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it was a night and day difference for me.

  • Dad

    Love you, wish we could be doing more for you.

  • kassiford

    I’ve never had depression but I have struggled (or rather made everyone else around me struggle!) with super anxiety for years…. Still looking for something not pharmaceutical that can help. Exercise and trying not to give in to the panicky moments (distraction) is all I’ve come up with really…. Just remember
    1./ you are awesome and talented – quite sure I’m not alone thinking this!
    2./. You’ve so got this!!!

  • Aaliya

    Anxiety. That’s my cross to bear. When I was young it started from the age of 14 ( I was actually going through depression but doctors didn’t believe 14 years old was a suitable age to have depression so offered no help). My depression morphed into being anxious and depressed, then my mum got depressed and never left the house. I was 15 then and doing everything because it had to be done. There was no one else.

    So my depression got put aside to focus on getting things done. Getting things done meant I didn’t think too much. Meant I could pull my mum up from her pit while I ignored mine.

    To this day (30) I keep busy. I don’t chill out and do nothing. I read, I craft, I day, I cook, I bake. Anything. So my head doesn’t start pulling at the threads of my mental walls.

    So I cheer you on! I pull you up from the sides and cup my hands together for you to stand taller and see the distance that Does exist. Because even if you never leave the side of the pit, there will be light falling on you….calling you to keep fighting, keep pushing forward!

    Hugs!!!!

  • tom

    Kate I always hold you up. I have been fortunate in my life to not feel that I was depressed although I have to admit this heart operation and follow-up has me on the edge. As Spring comes and weather improves I am confident I will get back to being myself.

    • Kate Sparkes

      I’ve been worried about you since the surgery. I do hope you’re feeling like yourself before summer comes!

      • Tom Lowden

        I was at the cardiac surgeons location today and he had me get a next Ray and compared it with one taken a month ago and you could see a good deal of improvement so I was rather encouraged about the visit today.

  • Adjusting My Sails (part 2) | disregard the prologue

    […] Last week, we talked a little about the depression I’ve been battling for a couple of months. Not a new […]

  • Passion Project | disregard the prologue

    […] I thought I’d post a little update here. Not just a follow-up to what we talked about a few weeks ago (though I would like to thank everyone who jumped in with comments and your own […]

  • Victory (again… for now) | disregard the prologue

    […] people who have been following along since I started talking about pulling myself out of this pit (here and here). I’m still doing weekly question-and-answer therapy sessions with myself to dig […]

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