Like probably every parent ever, my mum often used the phrase ‘Patience is a virtue’. When I got older, I would retaliate with ‘Well, it’s not one of mine’. It never has been, and whatever all the experts say about mental plasticity I’m not sure it ever will be. Right now I’m recovering from tonsillitis and it is one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had in a long time. It had me completely floored for over a week – I’ve been slurping cough medicine like water and sleeping during the day and drinking cheap scotch for medicinal purposes and it still hasn’t gone away. It’s a bit like a mini version of my journey with depression, except no one is telling me to take up yoga or go gluten free.
Also the tonsillitis is viral so I don’t get medication and I just have to wait it out. To be honest I’m not sure how much the medication helps with my depression these days anyway. A similarity is that I’m bombarded, more so than usual now I have a minor physical ailment that people can identify with, by messages from people insisting that I rest. My mum, my boss, people at church, my husband (well, he always says that, but who listens to advice from someone close to them unless it ties in with what they want to do…?) – it will come back or get worse if I don’t rest, I mustn’t just dive back into everything, I have to take things slowly.
What no one seems to realise is I find this so damn difficult. I don’t like to stop and take stock (which incidentally is one reason I don’t do so well at noticing if I’m getting better – I don’t want to make a journal or a mood graph because what if it just shows me it’s all going down the pan? One bit of my husband’s advice I did actually take was to stop tracking my sleep, because if I had even half an hour less than the nightly amount I’d set myself, I expected to be tired and it made things worse. Apparently when it comes to sleep deprivation, ignorance is bliss). I’m scared that if I stop I just won’t start again. I need momentum to keep me going, not endless cups of fruit tea and reruns of the Great British Bake Off.
Also I get stressed, even (especially) when my other emotions aren’t really working, and if I can’t do something active there’s no way to let it off. Talking helps, but I can’t even do that without coughing. I want to go running and dance to the radio, even just empty the dishwasher without feeling worn out afterwards. Yesterday I had to go out and ended up doing 10,000 steps, which is supposed to be an average day for a fairly healthy person, and my legs ached all evening. I can’t even cry, not about myself and not about horrible things in the news – the drugs don’t let me most of the time and anyway I probably don’t have the energy. Resting would probably be easier if I cared about myself, but I don’t. I’m fed up.