When everything goes right and everything feels wrong

This post is coming to you from my bed, where I am currently hiding from the workmen who have colonised my bathroom, living room, and spare room. They are sorting out the damp problem in various ways, which will be lovely when it’s done. In the meantime I am trying to stem the rising tide of hysteria induced by the sheer state my home is in by…well, mostly by just not looking at anything other than my laptop.

So much happened last year, and I only updated this blog twice. In September, I turned 30, which felt particularly meaningful because it was the end of the five years I gave myself to decide if recovery was worth the effort. A huge amount changed in those five years. My life didn’t stop while I was spending time trying to catch up with all the social and emotional development I missed out on in my teens and early twenties. My late twenties were no less eventful, and I feel like I’m going to be playing catch up for a while yet.

The other big occasion was in October, when Audrey and I got married! I was surprisingly calm about the whole thing until about two weeks before. This was partly because we insisted on doing so much of it ourselves, including but not limited to the table decorations, the bouquets for us and our bridesmaids, the music to be played during the ceremony and dinner (give a woman with OCD a playlist to organise, and she will be there for days), the wedding favours, and so on. I’ve been meaning to post photos for months, but haven’t quite got around to it.

The not-getting-around-to-it has been largely sponsored by my mood. I have only just started trying to tell people what’s been going on, purely because it didn’t occur to me until it recently started getting really obvious and a bit scary that I was depressed rather than a lazy fuck (ah, depressed brain, you are so friendly and charming). In more subtle theories, for a while I failed to take it seriously because I thought I was just burned out from my dissertation, and would bounce back eventually. Bouncing back has totally failed to occur in the last fifteen months or so. Following the stress of having my hours at my last job suddenly cut in September 2013, my mood never recovered after Charlotte died a year ago, and every time something else stressful happened – writing my dissertation, reintroducing wheat into my diet for a few weeks so I could be properly tested for coeliac, getting married (fabulous things can be stressful too) – it dropped lower. Apart from a couple of weeks before and after the wedding, when I was sufficiently distracted by A Project, the vast majority of 2014 (and 2015, so far) was spent sitting on my sofa, staring into space, trying to find the energy or motivation to move and DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING BUT SIT HERE FOR ANOTHER DAY. But although I’ve managed to carry on working, at home all I can seem to get myself to do most of the time is sit. A couple of weeks ago, on a Friday when I had no (paid) work to do, I had to get on top of the cleaning. I cried while I was trying to hang the washing up because I couldn’t decide where to put anything, and again when I couldn’t get the bloody duvet into the fucking duvet cover (expletives were totally necessary at the time), and again when I got in the shower and considered that crying over the soul destroying properties of damp socks was not what I had intended for my life at 30 years old.

I’m certainly far more tired, both in the sleepy and the fatigued senses, than is strictly necessary for someone my age, but most of the time the difficulty feels less about lack of energy and more to do with my brain just not working properly. Some days over the last few weeks when I’ve come home from work, it has taken me twenty minutes plus of very slowly doing one little thing at a time before I could move from the bedroom to the living room or kitchen. Okay, I’m home. What first? Turn off alarm. Take off my shoes, replace with slippers. Next, put shoes away. Now take off and put away coat. Now put on dressing gown, because it’s bloody freezing. Now put lip balm (one of my current tics is chewing my lips. Really not a good one to have in January) and phone in dressing gown pockets. Now open backpack. Are there any empty food or drink containers to be washed up? Take to kitchen. Are there any receipts? Put in recycling – no, wait, Audrey might need them, sort through them first. Oh god, I don’t know what to do with the receipts. Um. Sit on the bed and stare blankly for five minutes. Try again.

And so on. Trying to make a simple decision currently feels akin to attempting my physics homework when I was going down the drain at York. My brain just doesn’t want to know. A couple of friends have noticed that I’m much more quiet on Facebook – I often type and delete comments and statuses several times a day, but very rarely hit anything but the ‘like’ button, because social interaction seems so complicated. I am terrified of getting into a debate or discussion, because I don’t have the resilience to cope with them at the moment, and I’m scared of my potential reaction to being trolled. I’ve quietly left virtually all the groups I used to belong to. This post is only getting written because the need to distract myself from the horror of PEOPLE IN MY FLAT MAKING A MESS is great enough to focus the mind a bit.

I finally spoke to my GP about my mood and rampaging anxiety at the start of December, and I have an appointment with someone from the local CMHT in a couple of weeks. I don’t really know what they can do – I think we’ve pretty much proven that medication is a bad idea, and waiting lists for specialist therapy services are a bitch (I went through the primary care psychological therapy services a couple of years ago, it didn’t really get me anywhere). But I didn’t know what else to do, and you never know what a new (to me) team will come up with.

It is disappointing that things have gotten so bad, especially when last year my weight and eating was better than it ever had been. I know you can’t fix everything with weight gain, especially when my co-morbid issues so pre-dated my eating disorder, but it is still frustrating. When I am anxious or depressed and actively eating disordered there is a concrete reason for the distress, and a thing that can be fixed in a practical manner. As eating less became the answer to every problem when I was ill, eating more became the answer when I was in recovery. But having been physically healthy for years, doing everything ‘right’ behaviourally, and still becoming seriously depressed, is profoundly terrifying to me. There’s nothing to pin it on, nothing to blame. Or rather, there is this chaotic mess of stress and unresolved grief and regret and a cold, damp flat, and a job that isolates me and never makes enough money for us to live on, and a sense that everything I try fails, and that life will carry on slamming doors in my face, and that nothing will ever be okay, and I don’t even know where to start with that.

I will try to update a bit more often, and to at least put some photos of the wedding up. I say that every time though, and still the gaps between posts increase, and the longer I am away, the less this blog feels like a safe haven where I can be honest and find support. This mirrors one of the worst aspects of depression for me: that the more I need people to understand and help me, the less I feel able to find the words to ask.

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10 responses to “When everything goes right and everything feels wrong

  1. Fiona Marcella

    Sorry that it is so hard at the moment. Stupidly simplistic answer to an enormously complex problem I know, but some things WILL be better in the summer when it’s warmer, dryer and lighter.

    • I keep telling myself that, but things were really hard last summer too. Some practical things (keeping the flat warm and dry) were easier though, and that does make a bit of a difference. Being cold is more stressful than you realise until you warm up!

  2. Katie, being cold and damp is horrid! I try to keep the thermostat down as low as I can stand it to save money, but now I am feeling so grateful that anytime I start feeling really uncomfortable, I can just push it up to whatever temperature I want. May you be able to be warm and toasty during the cold, dark winter.

    I sympathize with your current situation where you are feeling the anxiety, depression and isolation, and you have no way to try deal with it like you did in the past, i.e., restricting or eating more. All of that is still there even though you are physically healthy. I met you in person in 2011 about 6 months after you wrote the other blog entry that you posted yesterday as the back story. I truly enjoyed talking and spending some time with you then, and I have been following your story (from another continent) ever since. I am so sorry to hear about your difficulties, and I hope that good clinical professionals will be able to help you. That’s a wrench about not being able to take meds. My daughter is the same way, cannot take medications for her anxiety/depression, and it is very hard.

    Sending love and hugs to you, Katie.

    • Thanks Kris. I didn’t mean for that other post to be emailed to everyone, that was slightly embarrassing! I forgot that wordpress emails updates to posts to subscribers as well as the posts themselves – I only made a tiny edit, silly website. Never mind. Yes, being cold and damp really doesn’t help. We are being extremely careful with rationing our heating, and I’m still quite terrified of the gas/electricity bill turning up in March! At least that’s a few months away yet. x

  3. Making sure lip balm is in my pocket is one of my number one priorities before leaving my room, too (where there are about three by my bed, because you know…security). Lip balm is important.

    Lip balm aside: Hello 🙂 I don’t know how to respond, because I’m a silent responder, and even more so lately. But I want you to know that you are being heard, particularly since I’m suspecting it took a lot for you to say this. I’m sitting here with a half-written comment, not quite knowing how to say things, or how to say them in a way that will be beneficial to you…I’m not even sure I can say anything of any benefit. But I wanted to respond so you know that your words are being heard, in the hope that maybe that will make a tiny hole in the terror of things being terrifying. I don’t know how much help one tiny hole will be, but maybe if we can make lots of them, then you can find your way through. Tiny perforations can add up 🙂

    If there’s anything I can do, then please let me know. I mean that. Please accept my offer of a long distance silent bear hug xxx

    • I have missed you and was wondering how you were doing recently ❤ and yes, you are quite right that tiny perforations add up. Lots of things have combined to make me feel really isolated at the moment, so it's helpful just to know that people are *out there* if that makes sense. Thanks for hitting send, rather than doing what I keep doing to people and typing…deleting…typing…deleting…heh. xxx

      • I do know what you mean about knowing people are *out there*. There’s something comforting about that. And I’m glad I did hit send despite feeling I had nothing useful to contribute. Feel special that you lured me out of lurking :P. But seriously, I’m wishing you all good things and many perforations, and if I can contribute in any way then please do say so. Treat yourself kindly, please xxx

  4. Sometimes all we can do is bear witness, but may I say it is an honor to bear witness and be alongside in any way. Depression is like any other illness in that it is impervious to will, but unlike any other in that others don’t always see that! You don’t have to feel well for us. You don’t have to be anything but you, now.

    You are heard, you are cared about, and you are understood by so many of us, and I hope it makes it even a bit less isolated.

    Charlotte would be heating the water for tea and shushing the dogs and sitting you down to some biscuits and ready to listen. She also made sure to deploy countless mini-Charlottes (in stature and vigor) in her spirit, and we are all a little bit of her out here hugging you.

    • Thank you Laura. It does help with the isolation, knowing that other people are out there listening. I don’t think writing this has done anything for the depression itself, but it has helped relieve the sense that I’ve become invisible (entirely caused by my inability to ask for help – how is it so hard?), which was causing extra stress. x

  5. Damian Cullinane

    Hello Daughter Dearest…..you are not alone you know. You have Audrey with you all the way, and you have all of us, your Family, to talk to and you can do that anytime you wish to…I will always be here for you, and so will the rest of us.
    Depression is a very difficult thing to handle, and you are not alone with that either, we all have problems in life to cope with, and sometimes these seem so big that they will swallow us up completely. I’m sitting here, deviating from some emails I need to do, to take time out and tell you that I’m incredibly proud of you, and on my left, there is your Graduation photo, and a happy, smiley, lovely young woman who has far to go, in what I hope will be a long and happy lifetime.
    I can understand the horrors of workmen wreaking havoc around you….make them a cup of tea and I expect that they will entertain you with stories of more dreadful refurbishing than you are undergoing at present!!
    More to the point though, you have a career path, and the full range of abilities to follow that path, and be successful at it. On the way, many, many people will thank you for what you do for them, and you will certainly find satisfaction in that to counter your moody times, and to bring better financial times too. The cold of winter is no fun, it’s pretty chilly here too, and the heating spent more time on over Christmas than it has since, as then it was for the benefit of a full house, afterwards it has been ” pull on an extra dog ” and turn down the thermostat as heating oil is still pricey! Thank heaven for logs!!
    I wouldn’t pretend to give you advice on your career moves, but I’m sure that you will gain clients as you progress, because others do the same thing as you, and you are not less able than any of them…in any respect.
    Finally, get a cat! Not normally the advice I would give someone who is in a busy life, as in anycase I’d always say get a dog! However, generally, cats are much cheaper to run, don’t need walkies or anything much other than a brush and a small amount of food, much less than a dog eats, but all that aside, they do like cuddles, and if you feel a bit droopy, you could always pick up Tiddles and smoosh him/her for a while, and you will then feel much better and more positive….guaranteed to work everytime!
    Love you lots, take care and go forth and multiply your patient list!

    Love,

    Dad xx.

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