I hate fall.
It's not because I dislike trees turning colors, or even that I dislike the thought that winter is coming. I don't mind the cold once it gets cold and stays there (most of the time). But fall is not a good season for someone with clinical depression and a basketful of acronyms that sound like a pharmaceutical commercial, especially when one of those acronyms is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And if there was ever a more appropriate acronym for something, I don't know what it might be. I think of it as The SAD. A big, gray, wet blanket of unhappiness that lurches about and drapes itself over you like a perverted approximation of a superhero's cape.
Some people don't understand what depression is like. Well, it's a lot like this. Only I haven't had the trip to the movie store where I can start armoring myself in Don't Give a Damns. (I have had lots of cake, though. Don't judge me. I feel fat enough already right now.) I would have to want to go to the movie store, and that would require energy to get up off the couch.
I say this, of course, writing this at my desk at work. I can make myself get up and do some things--like go to work and teach. Other things, not so much. Rather than work ahead this week and get a presentation, homework and midterm done, I let it go until I had no choice but to sit down and pound all of it out the night before it was due and then work some more on it yesterday morning before class. (I was ashamed to turn it in.)
It's not that good things haven't happened this week. Lots of good things have happened this week. My new iPhone came in the mail, Poe Girl and I were both nominated for the highest honor our department gives, and The Boy is making arrangements for the Big Important Job Interview next week. I can be happy, even when wrapped up in The SAD, especially when I'm happy for other people, because while there's always something there saying that I don't deserve to be happy, I know that YOU do deserve to be happy and I am genuinely happy for YOU.
But my mind inevitably focuses on the bad, and the last three days haven't been great. Tuesday afternoon started off with a migraine. I rushed through Alexander Pope and sent off my reading response at 11:00 that night (since Dr. L told me that he didn't get to it until Wednesday morning anyway). Wednesday morning, I had to go in (with the migraine still) and give my students the "Come to Jesus" talk about how they have to behave like adults and do their homework and take responsibility for their work--before I discovered that no one had read the homework, which threw out all of my plans for the week, which revolved around this one piece.
Then I needed to be working on my midterm and presentation--the materials for which I'd left at home, and once I got home, I had no energy. I sat and read all afternoon, thinking that I would get up and work here any second, once I was through with this chapter...until I realized I'd read for more than two hours and hadn't gotten anything done. I worked and worked and worked, then went to bed, then got up, still with a migraine, and worked and worked some more. Then went back to bed with the migraine until I absolutely had to get up and work some more. And the only reason I got up was because I *had* to work. Part of it was migraine. More of it was depression.
Then I went to the orchestra with Snarky Writer and her husband. That was great fun, and it lifted me out of the funk for a little while. My head still hurt, but I could laugh and clap and enjoy. And then I came home and went right back into the depressive funk that had been sneaking up on me with the migraine for the last several days. It's more than a wet blanket. It's a wet wool blanket, that's freezing cold and heavy and just itchy enough that I can't stand for anyone to touch me. Even my sweet cats, who were obviously concerned about their mama, were shouted at and shoved off the bed.
Then comes the guilt. The kitties look at me and don't understand. My students looked at me with wide eyes when I lost my temper in class Wednesday (and used words that would have caused me to have gotten my mouth washed out with soap). I freaked out about the midterm and kept texting Snarky Writer with my anxiety, while she's trying to worry about preliminary exams this weekend. My husband feels powerless to do anything to make me happy, which makes him upset, even though it's not his fault in any way. And in the meantime, the guilt begins weighing down because I've made all these other people unhappy. And even when I'm not actively making other people unhappy, I feel guilty anyway. One of my friends is in the hospital--and here I am whining about not feeling like I have the energy to climb up the stairs?
And the spiral continues. Down, down, down, until I feel like hiding under my desk with a pillow and blanket and sleeping there for a couple of weeks. Until I feel like I cannot simply face having to get out of the bed.
But I don't have a choice.
Don't get me wrong--this is why they give me medication. It's why I have daylight lamps at my house for me to sit under, so I can get some relief from the SAD. But sometimes it's not enough. Part of the reason it hasn't been enough this week has been because I've had a migraine that's going on four days now. It's lurking, mostly, now, rather than actively hurting, but it's still there, and it's just waiting, and for some reason things get worse when I have a headache like this.
So. If I have snapped at you this week, ignored you, told you to go away, bitched at you about something inconsequential, ignored your own personal problems, had no sense of priorities: I apologize. Being depressed gives me no right to take it out on you. But please know that your presence means everything. I may not want you to touch me or talk to me--I may want you to leave me the hell alone to stew in my office or on the couch or to let me sleep for hours on end. But knowing that you're there if I need you means everything. Please don't take my silence or ignoring you personally. I'm wrapped up in the SAD, and it won't let me loose.
But I will get loose. It may take a couple of days, but I will get loose, and for a little while, I'll be able to behave like a normal human being. Just please be patient with me.
Now for something that matters - best of luck to Snarky Writer and Gravedigger in taking preliminary exams today. You guys are going to do awesome.