Depression: I Should Have Felt Something…

Addition: I originally wrote this blog post in a pretty dark swing. I felt it was a good idea to demonstrate that even if you have a decent control, there are still times of struggle. So I went ahead and just wrote this while I was dark so you all could see that side of things and how I work to manage it. I’m level and fine now, for anyone concerned.

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Depression robs a person of experiences and feelings. Everything is just pulled into a flat, gray place where there is little to feel. Case in point – the release of my eBook. I knew I would ramp hypomanic, and I did so. I knew I would crash back out of it relatively quickly, and I did so. What I was not counting on was my brain settling back into moderate Bipolar-Depression AFTER the depressive crash.

So once again, I’m reminded of all of the things that I should have felt – happiness, pride, a sense of accomplishment – fucking anything. I did for a bit, but I know that was all a product of the escalation. Is it possible that I’m still in the midst of a depressive crash? No. That feels like my brain is downshifting from 10th gear all the way down to neutral. It’s been a couple of days and my crashes don’t last that long. It’s definitely a depressive cycle.

And that bitter gray flavor of emotion is just a call back to the many other times in my life I should have felt something but could not because of my piece of shit brain. I remember asking my second exfiancee to marry me, her response being tears. I recall feeling so flat and wondering why she was crying. I adored that woman. A moment that should have been filled with emotion, warmth, and joy when she accepted – I felt so numb.

And finding out about my son. A time when I should felt anything at fucking all. Fear, pride, trepidation, love, curiosity – ANYTHING. But there was only the numbness, the flat gray place where everything is muted and nonexistent.

The point that many people fail to realize about Depression in general is that it doesn’t just quash the positive things. I’ve felt just as flat, pointless, and absolutely gray on hard or difficult shit that I should have cared about. Girlfriend wants to break up? Whatever. Lost job number whatever? Figures. Blah blah blah. Same bullshit, different fucking day. It pretty much just merges several days into a single long, gray day.

So I do what I’ve been doing for 20 years, what many other mentally ill people do. Plaster on a smile, thank people for the congratulations and kind words, and pretend my emotions are functioning correctly. But then there is arguably the most important point, the one that will matter to you. How to deal with it?

This is why I don’t place great stock in how I feel about various things. It doesn’t matter that I feel pretty much nothing about meeting this goal. Regardless of how I feel, it’s still out there, it will still hopefully help some people better understand the Disorder, the shit that surrounds it, and the subject matter it covers. How I feel is irrelevant – which is a phrase many people have heard me say on numerous occasions though I know most of them don’t exactly “get it”. Much of the time I feel nothing, and if I allow myself to live in that mental space I’ll never get anything accomplished.

Emotions stemming from Bipolar unwell cycles may have some root in reality, but they are not our true emotions. They are a figment of the mental illness. It’s best to set aside decisions about important things until after those feelings are back under control. If more of us could learn to do that, I think we could remove a lot of the general instability and chaos of our lives. Most decisions don’t require us to make them RIGHT NOW, but we do because our brain is screaming at us we fucking need to or our brains are overloaded with incorrect, irrational emotions.

And that’s exactly why I’ve already started working on my second eBook on maintaining friendships and relationships involving Bipolar Disorder. I know my brain is being a pile of shit at the moment and I’m not going to allow that to dictate what I am going to accomplish. Even if I feel numb and gray, it will still be out there benefiting others. Once my brain swings back into place, I’ll be pleased with that.

How I feel is irrelevant.

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4 Responses to Depression: I Should Have Felt Something…

  1. François says:

    I’ve been trying to convince myself for a while now that I don’t have BD, and then, because I didn’t unsubscribe to this blog, out of curiosity, I read this:

    “The point that many people fail to realize about Depression in general is that it doesn’t just quash the positive things. I’ve felt just as flat, pointless, and absolutely gray on hard or difficult shit that I should have cared about. Girlfriend wants to break up? Whatever. Lost job number whatever? Figures. Blah blah blah. Same bullshit, different fucking day. It pretty much just merges several days into a single long, gray day.

    So I do what I’ve been doing for 20 years, what many other mentally ill people do. Plaster on a smile, thank people for the congratulations and kind words, and pretend my emotions are functioning correctly. ”

    That sums up at least 50% of my life.

    “But then there is arguably the most important point, the one that will matter to you. How to deal with it?”

    I don’t. I wait for it to pass, which IS dealing with it. I’ve taken every concoction to treat my condition. But no concoction I’ve taken has EVER suppressed those dark periods when nothing matters, absolutely nothing, not the happy things, not the sad things. Sister’s going to have a baby? All mammals do that after copulation, it’s no great achievement. 160 people killed in a Baghdad car bomb? Another day, another car bomb. Nothing matters. It’s an overpowering blanket of grey numbness. It reminds me of Frodo as he approaches Mordor. It’s why I fear pain but not dying, because it’s only when you stop feeling that you realise what you’re missing. When you stop feeling there’s no point in living and it’s only the knowledge that “this too shall pass” that prevents me doing something drastic and permanent.

    And you’re right, other people, healthy people, well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful people don’t “get it”. It’s the classic case of “if you haven’t been here, you have no idea what this is”. What sets it off? Who the hell knows… everything and nothing. It just happens, and when it does it’s neither heaven nor hell, it’s not even purgatory. It’s just the deafening silence of nothing.

    So, yeah, I guess I still have it.

    • Dennis says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, François. The mental process you’re going through on that is a very common thing for us. We get used to it as our normal and then just sort of drift forward through everything and deal with the fallout. I’m not sure when you were diagnosed or the last time you really tried to get well, but there are quite a few things to try. I note you say you’ve tried a lot, but many times people don’t realize just how much there is to try. There’s something like a dozen different antidepressants? Including one that was just cleared about a year ago for treating Bipolar-Depression.

      It may be worthwhile to revisit the situation with your doctor. If you’re Bipolar, it’s for life. So even if you don’t want to jump back into trying to medicate right now, it would at least be worthwhile to start learning more about the mental illness and managing it all around. Like I mentioned in the article, you may not be able to control how you feel or how you think, but you can control how you let it direct your decisions and affect your life. I learned how to do that kind of stuff in therapy, you can too.

      Lifestyle changes may help you as well. Lower stress work (depending on your career), exercise, diet, and several other things can help as well. Wellness isn’t as simple as popping a couple of pills and everything is fixed. There’s a lot of things that can help along the way. Or, none of it may work. There are no guarantees unfortunately. But don’t let that stop you, because there may be something out there that can help you.

      I’ve been in and out of that dark place for most of my life, François. The only way we can win is by fighting to control it and own it. I’ve been as low as a person can be, putting a loaded gun to my head and pulling the trigger on a dud round when I was 15 years old. I’m here now and I’m fighting. If I can do it, you can do it too. No, it’s not easy. No, things may not work out. But they will definitely not work out if you don’t fight.

      Be good to yourself. You deserve it too. Stop back or write any time.

  2. Kerri says:

    I find it particularly hard to write / blog when I’m depressed so I commend you for that.

    • Dennis says:

      Thank you! I can tell you that it’s not always the case for me. A severe enough depression and my brain just stops being able to critically think, piece together sentences, and provide coherent writing. So it’s definitely something I can have trouble with myself.

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