One of the hard things about having been depressed for so long (fifteen years minimum, on and off, mostly on, probably longer) is that the advice I get changed somewhere along the line. It used to be, “Don’t push yourself too hard. You have a real illness. Wait for your anti-depressants to kick in. Stick with therapy. Give it time.” But over time, it became clear that the anti-depressants weren’t going to kick in, at least not the way they should and that therapy wasn’t going to provide all or even many of the answers. So then it became, “You have to push yourself harder. Work harder. Exercise more. Socialise more” and so on. Except I don’t always feel much better.
I guess I am somewhat better in that, when I rate my moods out of ten (which I do every evening), where 1 is unbearably awful and 10 is normal, I’m now usually around 5/10, making my way up to 7 on good days and down to 3 or 4 on bad ones, whereas I used to be consistently around 3/10 often dipping lower down to an off-the-chart 0/10 on some occasions. Actually, having a quick look at my private journal for the last month or so, the surprising thing now is the range rather than the mean average, going from 8/10 (which is basically normal with slight depression) all the way down to 2/10 (which is more or less suicidal) whereas I used to be consistently stuck around 3/10 for months on end. Even in a single day it can drop quite suddenly from a slightly subnormal 7 or 8 down to a pretty depressed 5. But, while this may mean I feel better, it doesn’t mean I feel well. It doesn’t mean I feel significantly more able to work, exercise, socialise, push myself – 7/10 is still subpar, perhaps equivalent to permanently having a bad cold.
But I try, partly because my personality is to try, partly to shut everyone up and sometimes I achieve things for a bit, but sooner or later I burn out and crash because I am not well, just a bit better. But everyone carries on saying that I need to try harder, push myself more. This week I’m still feeling completely burnt out from my holiday and unable to push myself, but I’ve had to clear out my flat and see a careers advisor and catch up on the huge pile of job adverts that came in while I was abroad and I’ve got minor surgery on Sunday (which is a bit scary in itself, although it’s all under local anaesthetic and shouldn’t take more than an hour). I’ve already decided not to go to autism group today because I’m just too exhausted and too far behind on job applications. I don’t really know what the solution is.