It's been a bit of a rollercoaster few weeks. About a fortnight ago the Sertraline began to kick in, and I had a brilliant week. I felt like I was waking up, and remembering what it was like being me. I still felt worried and fearful, but that was put on the backburner, and I actually began to feel like could carry on with my work, and salvage something from the wreckage I feel I've made of my PhD. Wonderful! And this coincided with a meeting with my supervisor, and an evening with some friends, and a wonderful weekend away... Things felt pretty marvellous, actually........ and then came the Monday, and a depressing chat with the joiner who's going to put in my windows about the complete hash job left by the previous builders. There's nothing like a man patronisingly repeating the same upsetting things over and over (I HEARD "dry rot" very clearly the FIRST time. The next 3 times were, at best, superfluous) to really kick the stuffing out of cautious optimism. That was all I needed to send me back to bed for the next 36 hours. Poor Penny - I'm pretty antisocial when I want to be, and therefore pretty crappy to live with at times. Luckily I had an allotment trip planned on the Tuesday afternoon, which forced me to get outside and be active, so happily I was back up to somewhat-reasonable friend on Wednesday. Dizzying heights indeed.
One of the most problematic and insidious things about my on-going struggle with depression is the vacuum where my motivation should be. There are so many things that I want to do, but actually getting started feels impossible. I keep trying, and feeling like I'm crashing up against an invisible wall. I basically find myself offering up distraction after distraction and ultimately whiling away all the available time for whatever task is at hand. This is worst when it comes to work, and ultimately I end up feeling useless, lazy and stupid, with a big handful of other negative impressions of myself thrown in to boot. I try to tell myself that is not who I am, I can point to a great number of examples to prove this, but ultimately that does not matter when standing at the cliff-face of my own certainty that I am, in fact, rubbish. I don't want to turn up to my next meeting and have to admit I haven't done any work, because I cannot adequately explain (to myself or anyone else) why not. How can you explain to someone expecting sound results from cutting edge, novel research that, on some days, just having got out of the house feels like a productive day?! This problem can only be solved by actually cracking on and doing the work I need to, and the only way I can do that is to keep trying, I guess.
I went back to the doctor's for a scheduled appointment and she said that it's quite common to see an improvement followed by a dip or plateau, and that I was on quite a low dose, so she upped it to 100mg/day - I should see the benefits in another couple of weeks. Obviously I'm continuing with counselling, and this is going very well - It sounds stupid but I'm finally getting the hang of what she's trying to encourage me to do. Basically, letting myself have feelings about things and accepting them for what they are instead of trying to force them into a pragmatic and rational mould. And also letting myself listen to the positive things and not let them be drowned out by the negative. What can I say? It's a journey. I'm taking my lead from the card that my lovely friend Lieke sent me: