I hate that depression taints everything. In the past I’ve actually been unhappy when I’ve also been depressed. For years I was in a job that made me unhappy because I was doing something I wasn’t made to do. Now I’m doing something I was made to do and I love it and it’s tied to developing who I am but then I had to go and get depressed again and work out at the end of every day why I am feeling like this.
I had a fear at work the other day and laughed about it with a colleague. She described my thinking as fast, which is an understatement. My mind races. It goes from event to catastrophic fear in an instant and ties me to it. My thoughts go fast about a lot of things, so fast it’s hard to process them. I’m usually overstimulated so a lot of my free time is spent trying to shush that, to settle myself and not think.
So I knit. For three years during my MA my mind was constantly occupied. I was working and studying. It was an intense degree, full of things I love and abhor. Language, culture, religion, philosophy, theology, law. The law I abhorred, the language I adored. I was also unwell during a fair amount of that degree. I know it was bad sometimes but it could also be amazing. In one class I became enthralled with an Arabic word that conveyed so much meaning and was so graceful. I was so fascinated that I felt like I was fizzing as I discussed it with the professor and other students. That one word encapsulated the Arabic language and the way the Qur’an communicates. I had trouble sitting still and ended up almost bouncing around on the ceiling when I left. I was unwell and badly medicated and overstimulated but my mind was full and appreciative. I wrote an essay when I was off my face on medication. It was the best essay I ever wrote. I was with my family for Christmas and locked myself inside their conservatory to write – with breaks every ten minutes to do star jumps because it was too hard to sit still. My mind was whizzing. I saw details and connections through language that whirred through my essay. Sure, that was also the Christmas that I thought I might be able to fly and wanted to throw myself down a four-flight stairwell and land on a Christmas tree to be a beautiful broken dead angel, but that essay was pretty damn good.
I didn’t know how to keep myself occupied when I finished my MA so I learned how to knit and filled my mind with that. It’s completely addictive but now it serves a different purpose for my mind. It sedates it. I’ve been wondering what’s happened to me in recent months. I admitted to myself a week or so ago that I think I’m depressed so I want to know how I got here. My life is good so it’s quite surreal when I’m on a bus going to a job I love knowing that the way I feel doesn’t match that. It doesn’t make any sense. So did it happen out of nowhere? Do I really have the sort of mind that would just turn on me for no reason like that?
The knitting, the sedation. For a long time I focused on feeding my mind and for the last year I’ve focused on feeding my heart. The therapy I had helped me to uncover some of the things that make me me, or that I want to make me me. Kindness is one of those things and when I realised that I also realised I needed to do a job that enabled me to be kind for lots of my time, but more than that, a job that valued kindness. I didn’t actually know that that would happen so my heart has been filled whenever it does. When the person I am, the kind person, is valued.
So I’ve been slowing my mind and opening my heart. It’s been far more intense than I could have imagined. When I open my heart I see people, I see their hearts. I see sadness, insecurity, obsessiveness, fear, care, facades, hard work, torn minds, broken hearts, bullied children, intentions and lies. I play the roles of mediator, listener, teacher, helper. I do it at work and home. My heart has been opening and flooded with other people’s lives. It’s amazing and exhausting.
As that has happened I’ve also tried harder to create boundaries to guilt. I’ve become a little bit better at saying no in a couple of contexts where guilt or shame has previously ruled. I’ve become a little bit more selfish and in those contexts a little bit more peaceful.
I still get overstimulated. I’m around people a lot now so I try to keep myself pretty quiet when I’m not at work. I knit. I sedate my mind. My mind is still running in the background but I haven’t been feeding it, or not in a good way. Some things have been fed somehow because fear is increasing in my life again. Sleep is deteriorating as worry begins to dominate. My mood has crashed along with my energy levels and my empathy is erratic. The thing that originally set it off was tiredness, which seems an absurdly immaterial thing to do so much damage. I worked a few extra shifts when needed and then went into night shifts and I haven’t been able to recover.
Maybe I need to feed my mind more. I’m wary of doing that too much because it veers so easily into obsession. I’ve been wondering how to feed my mind. Perhaps reading. I used to read a lot before my attention span got shattered by illness and medicines. I’m reluctant to try for a simple, and probably silly, reason. I don’t want to stop knitting. I might be able to do simple knitting and test reading at the same time. I’ve tried audiobooks but they talk too slowly and I end up daydreaming and missing most of the droning voice. I wish I could speed them up to make them talk at the same speed I read and think.
Perhaps I could try talking. I don’t talk much anymore, not about the things that matter to me deep inside anyway. If anything does even matter, but I think that’s the depression tainting me. Maybe I’m an empty shell who just knits. No, things matter, but I sedate them instead of communicating them. I listen to others instead of asking them to listen to me. I don’t even write them. I rarely write here and I have a private journal that I don’t write in, except for one small thing. A praise diary. I note whenever someone tells me something good about me. I had no idea how starved of praise I was. But as for communicating heart things, I’ve not been practising that. I didn’t practise when I was well and I’ve not been practising since becoming unwell. Little bits. I’m happy. I’m low. I’m tired. All three things are true and they’re glimpses. I’ve allowed people glimpses. People do see parts of me. I don’t allow people more than glimpses and sometimes I’m OK with that, sometimes I’m not.
Or perhaps fuck reading and talking. Maybe I should just find somewhere green and quiet, spend my free time there and wait for everything to pass.