Fog Warning

 

I’ve never said I have depression.

I’ve been taking an antidepressant, true. And amino acids. For years. I can feel the grey fog start to swirl around my ankles when I haven’t been taking care of myself. When I don’t sleep. When I eat poorly. When I have a run-in with my past. The fog obscures everyone and everything good in my life, until I just can’t see any of it, and I feel alone. Marooned. I sit on the edge of my bed, drawing on all my reserves just to get up. To speak. To shower.

I’ve never said I have depression.

Why?

Maybe it’s the stigma that still surrounds anything that touches our mental health. But that doesn’t feel true to me; it feels too easy, too simple by half. Why don’t I feel like I have depression?

Part of it is because it feels like my moods are physiological; but depending on your perspective, that could be said of nearly everyone diagnosed with clinical depression. But mostly I cannot say it, because people with clinical depression have fought (and won, and lost) desperate, bloody battles. I have only toured the battlefield. The difference is vast.

Diabetes is often used as an analogy to depression, when it comes to the importance of self-care and trying to bring an end to the stigma surrounding a mental health diagnosis. If you had diabetes instead of depression, would you still feel you should get along without medication?

 The medical world can now identify people who have pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance – collections of symptoms and risk factors that mean that, while you don’t have an official diagnosis of diabetes right now, you’re damn sure on the way if you don’t do anything to stop it. I feel like there is a depression version of that. What should we call it? A spiritual syndrome? Serotonin resistance? A fog warning?

I am just coming to terms with the fact that fog-prevention is in my hands. Many times self-care or taking any kind of time to acknowledge and give space to the fog has seemed like a luxury to me. Or like weakness. I can gut this out – I need to get up and get my ass to work.

Last week, I did something different. I took some time.

Over the weekend, I’d had one of those run-ins with my past. I think the world of mental health calls it a trigger. It felt more like a detonation. By Monday, I was leveled. With the alarm clock came the feeling of constriction, of a weight on my chest so heavy I could not draw a deep breath.

I pushed myself into the shower. Couldn’t quite meet my own eyes in the mirror. Dragged on my clothes. This isn’t a reason to stay home from work. Is it?

And then Anthony asked me, “Is there anything at your office today that’s truly pressing?

No.

“Then maybe you should get back into bed.”

I did. I slept for three hours, read, cried, watched Netflix, and generally did not expect anything of myself until I got dressed about 30 minutes before Adri came home from school. By that time, I was steady enough to be a mom. And as the week passed, I felt better. Not immediately, not in a linear fashion, but faster, I think, than if I had tried to just push through.

And I learned something.

Even as I decline to claim something I don’t feel belongs to me (I have depression), I can acknowledge what does. I can listen to the fog warning, and alter my course accordingly. I can care for myself as tenderly as I would one of my loved ones.

I can steer around that iceberg. And so can you.

 

 

 

 

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One thought on “Fog Warning

  1. I wouldn’t want to say I have depression either but I get foggy a lot. Being out amongst nature helps me and dressing up is another way to distract myself and when I have a good outfit on it cheers me up. I feel horrid when I don’t look good and less anxious and more confident when I do. Taking time to do things that you know will help is important. I’m realising more the impact diet has. You’re doing great. Talking about it is brave and healthy xx

    Liked by 1 person

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