Reappreciation of Self

Yesterday was one of those days where living feels worthwhile. Surprising to me since that isn’t something I expected this week, especially with the stress of being without Corey.

They say depression knocks all of the blocks you’ve built up in your life down. It can rip away your belief system, your career, your family, and all of the pieces that make up one’s sense of self. For me it happens gradually, but I don’t notice it that way. Usually I just wake up one morning and it is like my existential slate has been washed clean.

“Who am I?”

I don’t know.

“What do I believe in?”

I don’t know that either.

It is almost like amnesia of the self. I can’t quite remember how to be me because I can’t remember who that person is.

The moment depression begins to subside is equally as jarring, because I don’t quite know what to do. I still don’t quite feel like myself, and I need to stack all of those blocks that have been knocked down back up but I can’t do it in a single day. I’m usually looking at something more like six months to a year before I’m back to feeling “normal”, or fully human again, at least.

Then yesterday I had that moment that made me so appreciative to be alive that things clicked.

It all began when Mark asked me, “do you remember how you were six months ago?”

At first I didn’t. I don’t even remember why he said that, and it was only yesterday, so no, I don’t remember myself from six months ago. When I began to think harder though, I see someone in the throngs of incredible depression. That very state that I’m talking about, where my entire sense of self had been stripped away, that was me.

I would barely call what I was doing at that time living, it was more like surviving. I was continuing to let one day pass into another, waiting for the firestorm of misery to end so I could work on coming back again. Back into the realm of serving some kind of purpose instead of just squeaking by.

I’m lucky, in a sense, that I’ve done this a few times before. I know the routine now, so I know in those moments of depression that it will pass. The problem is that the time it takes to pass can seem like eons.

And really, I’m sure now that Mark was pointing out what was (and is) now so readily apparent.

I’ve built it back. My sense of self and my confidence is here, and it is very likely that it has been here for a little while now, I just didn’t wholly recognize it until Mark brought it to my attention. The difference is plain as day.

What I’m left with is an overwhelming appreciation for today. Right now. This second, this minute, this year.

And when I’m standing right next to some version of myself from six months ago, that version of me completely incapacitated by depression, it made me realize that I need to take advantage of the sense of self I have right now.

I need to live life to the fullest in those lucid times when I’m able to really appreciate both what I can do, and what life can give back to me. There are so many times were I’m not able to take charge or accomplish things, part of me feels the need to make up for it double when I’m able.

For me, living life to the fullest when I’m stable or even on the manic end of the scale isn’t about partying and catching up on the general self-destructive behaviors I’ve missed out on while being depressed though. It is about making a difference in my own life, with the hope of possibly making the difference in someone else’s life.

After all, that’s what I’ve wanted all along. Growing up wanting to be a doctor or a scientist or even a comedian, really all I want to do is effect people in a positive way. In the past I’ve tried to force it, but what I’m finding out right now in my life is that if I just try to focus on making a difference in my own life and work on self improvement, it somehow bounces back ten-fold.

(I guess I can see where the concept of karma may have originated.)

Anyway, I can neither confirm nor deny if what I’m feeling is linked to hypomania, but my epiphanies are almost exclusively accompanied by some form of mania. In all fairness, though, that doesn’t seem to make them any less true or real, so even if that is the case today I don’t discount what I’ve concluded.

Periods of lucidity and stability are extremely precious to me, especially when compared to the harsh backdrop of depression. I ought to do a better job appreciating them while I have the ability to do so.

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6 responses to “Reappreciation of Self

  1. I have been “surviving” for so long, I think I have actually built up a fear of functional clarity. Time, however, is something my mind can’t grasp. Even while blogging, I have to curtail my self or I would post the whole day long, thinking I am blogging once a day.

    I miss the first couple of months when I first went onto Lithium. It was like a dream come true. For once, everything made sense and I felt like I was supposed to feel.

    Now, not only has the depression kicked in at full throttle but even the Mania is starting to rear it’s ugly head.

    Enjoy the good times 😀 At least someone can…

    • Tery,

      I have some major issues with time too, if I don’t have some semblance of a routine I can never tell what is going on!

      It is definitely rough to have a taste of normalcy and have it taken away again, all the more reason to appreciate it while it’s around!

      Thanks!

  2. I couldn’t believe how much cognitive function and clarity I got back once I started on mood stabilizers. I had completely lost any sense of normality and was pretty horrified to discover how bad things had really become and just how warped my sense of “OK” was.

    I’m not 100% stable now but I can actually be an active participant in life and enjoy things, and I value that so much more now than I could have imagined. I know it may not last, but I try not to worry about that and just enjoy what I can of the moment. I think we get desensitized to both the good and the bad if they go on long enough, but when prompted to ponder it, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come.

    Great post!

    • Good point, I’ve really been thinking a lot lately about that desensitization and I’m definitely going to address that in a post in the next week or so.

      It can be SO hard for me not to obsess or have anxiety around the idea (and, well, inevitability at this point) that this kind of clarity and functioning will not last. It is depressing, right?!? At the same time, I am overwhelmingly thankful just to have any kind of cognitive break, because over the last year the thought of reaching where I am now seemed so impossible. I know the cycle will continue, but I will too.

      Thanks!

  3. Beautifully said. You made me realize that I need to think back as well. 6 months ago I was a true mess, I have been thinking so again but I know maybe it is just confusion. I want to know who I am and what I am capable of and I am beginning the journey.
    Thank you for this eye opening post.

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