I’m pretty sure I’m not depressed.
The fatigue, which comes and goes, at times inexplicably, is confusing me.
In the past, through depression I have experienced fatigue so great I could not speak. This fatigue does not do that. But it is fickle. What I did happily one week is unthinkable the next. I have no idea what the day will bring until I’m a few hours into it. Recently for the first time I was so fatigued that I caught myself thinking how nice it would be if all my blood ran out of me and I died and I wouldn’t have to bother to breathe any more. But it wasn’t a suicide daydream, just a mental plea to be allowed to lie down and stop doing anything tiring like breathing. I might mention that I was stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway on the way home after a long day at work the time and being dead is the only socially acceptable excuse for just ceasing to continue creeping forwards in that context.
It was so strange to have that thought, that used to be an old companion, but from an entirely different angle. I know the fatigue that comes from depression. I know it intimately and familiarly and I have some coping skills. I don’t know mood-depressed-by-physical-fatigue. But it’s moved in and I’m having to get to know it and it’s weird. I don’t have the relevant coping skills. Yet.
It’s really strange to me that the moment my mood is best first thing in the morning. That’s never happened to me before! I wake up like a smart-phone with a freshly charged battery, bright and shiny and ready for anything … but overuse me and I’m worthless by lunchtime; dim, lacklustre, expending the final dregs of the battery just trying to stay awake. In the evening after a day when I had a meeting, or an unavoidable social event, I am so low in mood and all I want to do is sleep. Yet when I awaken the next day I am inexplicably happy. Unless I have a few “busy” days in a row. After 3 weeks back full-time at work the morning magic stopped working. At work I was getting confused and struggling to balance priorities and clashing with colleges. Outside of work I wasn’t able to ride at all. While riding had been very tiring on the days when I managed it, I felt more energised on the days following a ride. I felt like riding was the one step I could actively take towards getting better and I’d lost that again.
I was owed some hours, which I built up back in the early summer, so I spent my hoarded hours to take a day off and filled it with self-care; meditation and aromatherapy; gentle yoga and relaxation. I even banned myself from crochet for the day to avoid anything goal-oriented. But it still didn’t fix me. So when l saw the nurse at occupational health later that week we agreed I should return to slightly reduced hours again for a few weeks.
It was a weight off my shoulders and the right decision. I’m grateful for the supportive workplace that can accommodate it, but I’m disappointed that once again getting back to normal is further away than I thought. Part of me thinks I could have pushed on with it, kept going, one day at a time, but it’s not a sensible part of me. lt tells me I’m weak-willed, that anyone can handle a measly 36 hr contract, that I need to suck it up and buckle down. The rest of me knows that listening to that voice is a good way to ensure a public meltdown, a return to being too ill to work at all and general misery until I reach that stage.
Hopefully the reduced hours will be what I need to get my sleep-magic working again. Hopefully I’ll be able to start exercising again. Hopefully, once these few weeks of reduced hours are over, I should be able to try full-time work again and this time, hopefully, I’ll be able to make it stick.