Winter blues

I’m not having a very good time at the moment, which has been reflected in the fact that I’ve not written a word on my blog for nearly a week. I can give you several reasons for this, including problems with my job (I’ve written a separate, password protected post on that, although really it wouldn’t have been much of a blow to have it discovered and be fired over it), a dose of post-holiday blues (still!) and the fact that it is late autumn/early winter. I usually struggle around this time of year: last year I relapsed in pretty much every way possible (restriction, selfĀ harming, drinking too much), the year before I had a brief return to self harm along with a stagnation in my recovery efforts, in 2008 I was very underweight, in 2007 I was…erm, very underweight, in 2006 I was suicidal and about a month from being admitted to hospital, and so on. I think it is safe to say that I may suffer a little from SAD. If light boxes weren’t so damn expensive I might get one. I think you can have them prescribed on the NHS actually, but I’ll see how things go.

The upshot of all this is that I’m feeling really quite low. It’s that awful sort of exhausting sadness which sits right on my solar plexis like a brick. I feel isolated and lonely even when I’m with friends and spend most of my late evenings and early mornings trying not to burst into tears at the thought of having to get through another day at work. I also got rather freaked out at college this week during a session on (amongst other things) Beck’s dysfunctional attitude scale, when we had to identify which of the most common results applied to ourselves. Mine was easy to choose: a combination of fear of vulnerability and avoidance of weakness, partly because I appear to have been born that way (I’ve never been comfortable with expressing “negative” or intense emotions in front of others, whereas my parents and siblings don’t have the same problem) and partly related to my experiences with mental illness. When I was much younger and hadn’t been unwell for very long I believed in the movie-style fairytale ending regarding eating disordered and suicidal teenagers: someone noticed how much they were hurting and gave them unconditional support until they were better. Maybe there was a brief hospital stay or a nice therapist involved, but one way or another things would be okay in the end. It wasn’t until I was 18 that I realised that however desperate I was, and however honest I forced myself to be about my feelings and need for support, no one was going to save me. Not even close – in fact, I eventually came to accept that no one was going to intervene even when my life was at risk. Even when I knew my life was at risk and was begging for help – it just wasn’t going to happen. Those moments of utter horror dotted throughout my life have stuck with me. Those moments when I knew that my survival was completely dependent on my ability to survive, and believed that I was nowhere near up to the task.

I hate whinging (aaah! Showing weakness!) and I hate sounding like I’m feeling sorry for myself, but when I’m already down I do tend to get these sorts of thoughts playing on an endless loop in my brain. Sometimes stuff like I’m describing, sometimes rape flashbacks, other disturbing or (to me) disgusting images, nightmares which persist long into daylight, or obsessive thoughts about dying and nothingness. My brain, essentially, likes to kick me when I’m down. Stressed over work? Okay, lets throw in some extra strong self harm urges. A little low from the lack of sunlight in December? Awesome time for those rare eating disordered thoughts to start poking you even more frequently than your uncle when he’s drunk and on Facebook. Only I can’t unfriend my brain, I’m stuck with it.

Ā I want to get through one winter without having a minor meltdown. To be fair it’s been a while – the last time I was on decidedly shaky ground in regards to my abstinence from self destructive behaviours was July, right after I started my job. Things are improving, slowly, and there are longer and longer periods of time between lapses and near misses. I just wish it didn’t take so much effort. And although it’s quite logical that this is the case, I wish I didn’t have to fight three times as hard to stay on track when I’m already feeling depleted. I wish, I wish, I wish, and I know it won’t make a difference. Wishing is useless. Recovery, relapse, life, death and everything in between – it’s all up to me, and that thought still terrifies me.

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17 responses to “Winter blues

  1. I know that many carers dislike the phrase in the New Maudsley manuals “You alone can do this but you cannot do it alone” I’m not that much of a fan of it either as I still think it places too much responsibility on the patient and is negative containing both “but” and “cannot” which are surely bad words in positive thinking circles. However I do think there is sense in it.

    Ultimately you have to put a lot of work into your recovery and it’s hard, hard, hard stuff, never made easier by winter’s gloom. However please believe you are not alone. Maybe there is no knight in shining armour, maybe your family aren’t in a position to take on the responsibilities of care that others can at least try, maybe services will be shutting down rather than expanding and “things can NOT only get better” but please believe that you can do this and you are not alone.

  2. may i please ask your age? it will provide me with a better perspective and therefore comment contribution to your entries. x

    • I’m 27. Apparently I don’t look it, but most of the people who tell me that are in their 80s and probably don’t have that great eyesight šŸ˜‰

      • hahahahaha! thank you so much for the reply! yesterday, an ex boyfriend read my blog and emailed me, telling me that he “wouldn’t be surprised if [I] were a 70-year old man.” he feels that i lied to him, hiding my bulimia. why am i sharing this? i’m not sure, but it sort of kind of fit with the 80-year old comment, i think. šŸ˜‰ x

  3. Sorry you’re feeling crappy Katie. One step at a time. One sensation at a time. Eckhart Tolle’s “The power of now” was a book I found really empowering. Helped me when I felt very low.
    Mariam x

  4. The trouble is that so often I see you as the person that sweeps other people up and ‘saves’ them like in those movies/shows, and then there’s not much energy left for you to do any self-saving šŸ˜¦

    I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time again this winter – perhaps we should both move to Florida so there’s no such thing as frost, ice, snow or lack of light. You’d definitely get a lightbox on prescription though – I know people that just feel a bit ‘blue’ in the winter who have been able to wangle them out of their GPs so I am sure you could get one.

    Would it be okay at all to have the PW for the other post, if it’s alright for me to see?

    *squeezy hugs*

    xxx

  5. Charlotte Bevan

    Oh crappity crap, my darling Katie. Crappity crap. This time of year doesn’t help anyone – not only long nights and short days, but no Vit D and Christmas pressure.

    Take some of my strength. Borrow my half full cup. Breathe, Know that you are loved. Know that we are here as your good fairy therapists, supporting you and willing you upwards. Arms out. Hugs winging their way to you. Fierce whateveryouneeds just here.

    Pah to ed. Boo hiss to depression. Take that darkness. xx

  6. I was wondering how you were because I realised it had been a while since you’d last posted and I knew you were on FB. I’m just going to send you a million e-hugs and reiterate that you’re not alone (this song comes to mind http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUquTr3Tcv0) and… I’m rubbish at being consoling but I just want you to know that I’m sorry you feel rubbish and I really hope it eases up soon. I
    *huggles* ā¤ xxxxx

  7. I am not my alter ego with the long tail tonight.. Blame it on my mobile phone…

    I’m really sorry you’re having a tough time right now… I do know how it feels and I sympathise. I go through really rough patches too; the last one being 4-5 weeks ago after a tooth extraction that went a bit wrong. I completely flipped and told my lovely mother that I was sick of trying to cope with anxiety etc. etc. and didn’t want to be alive. And then I felt worse because I upset her šŸ˜¦ The problem was that at that moment in time I’d had enough of living with my mind. It did pass, however. But it is likely to return because that’s the way my mind/brain is. Just some trigger and a switch is turned in my head…

    I do hope this crappy time passes quickly for you with you remaining safe. At least you know that you can get through these times to a better place – because it’s happened before.

    I’m sorry about the job too….

    Take care! xxx

  8. Hang in there Katie! Winter sucks. I am struggling too but trying to stay strong.

    Hannah
    (yes I caved to peer pressure and started a blog)

  9. Katie,
    You are irreplaceable and have a huge heart. I can hear it in your writing, thank you for the strength you have given me, the wisdom that you have shared in your stories. My heart goes out to you now and I hope that this soon passes and you are once again your sunshiney self. Every day, you only grow stronger. Know that you are often in my thoughts.
    With care,
    Katrina

  10. Katie, So sorry to hear things are not going well at the moment. It sounds like a lot going on. Work troubles and getting the pink slip is always hard. Weather doesn’t help much either. Try to hang in there and take care of yourself.

    In a sense, yes it is up to you, but it doesn’t have to be either. Choose your support in the way you can, the one you know who are receptive.

    This will not be forever. As I used to think, this is not as good as it gets. This is just a wave, so you just need to ride it out safely.

  11. Hi, Katie. Sending you some sunshine from Arizona and echoing Fiona’s post. You _can_ do this and you absolutely are not alone. Notice how many have already responded to your post!

    Jennifer

  12. Laura Collins

    I’m with Fiona on the doing it alone. I know for many of us, the tendrils of depression cling to unhelpful ideas about not whining, not wanting to bother others, and how we “should” be able to do things. It’s a trick of the mind better suited to those living in dark caves through the winter than those of us who must get up daily to meet the world. One trick that can work for me is to pretend I’m answering to someone else, usually my kids or my mother, where they are the ones at risk when I’m not getting support or taking steps to feel better.

  13. Hey Katie,

    Long time no read – I’ve just caught up with your blog (I’ve been insanely busy!) from Alexandria to now. It sounds like you had an amazing time and you really captured the atmosphere with your posts.

    I have the same thing – January is my difficult time. I guess that it’s the dark, the anti-climax after Christmas etc. The thing is that admitting that it is a problem means that you’re half way there to fighting through it – you’re so eloquent at summing up how you feel, and I know that half of the internet are behind you!

    Sending hugs from over here,

    Bellsie xxxx

  14. I hear you. I’m shining some light on you now. If you ever want to talk, share, offload, anything without judgement or advice, then please just contact me. I will listen. I want to. Louisa x

  15. Sorry you’re feeling crappy and finding things hard, but, from the way you’ve responded so positively and helpfully to my own blog, I believe you are an incredibly strong person who can get through this. You are brilliant. Love BM xx

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