Some of my friends are at P-Con in Dublin this weekend. A big part of me wishes I was there. But a few months back, when we were discussing going, I bowed to my “Oh dear gods no! I can’t deal with people in a social setting!” panic and said “I don’t think so.” I also gave in to the fear that the trip would exacerbate my already painful sciatica and let that tip the balance on the decision. I wish I hadn’t … now.
I know this happens. I know that I do this. It happens with some regularity. To the point that I haven’t seen most of my friends in over a year, some a lot longer. But I’ll do it again. I know I will. There’s an event coming up that I should be looking forward to. An event that I have been involved in as an attendee or committee member for 16 years. Many of my friends will be there, many of the rest of the attendees are people I have met before. But the screaming panic wells up anyway. When it isn’t the screaming panic, that’s just because the depression has stepped up a notch and turned it into apathy.
This year feels worse. This close to the event I would normally be knee-deep in satin and lace and various trimmings, making some “simply fabulous” creation to wear to the Gala Dinner (it usually takes me a good 6-12 months to make something because I can only manage about half an hour or so per day, if that, working on it). This year? This year I am not even sure I can summon the enthusiasm for the Dinner.
We do this. Us with chronic pain and depression. We know we do it. We hate ourselves for giving in to the depression when it strikes. But when the depression flows, we have no sense of perspective. Everything is wrong, nothing is worth doing, life is shit and we might as well crawl under the covers and stay there. It’s got to be hell for those who care about us because there’s nothing they can do to make it better. It’s coming from inside. Whether it’s related to whatever is causing us the physical pain/disability or is a separate condition entirely doesn’t matter. It is not external, so there is no external solution (except drugs).
The first step to managing depression is recognising when it is affecting us. Recognising that some, if not all, of the negativity that seems to have dropped on us out of the blue is not entirely warranted. That we may be seeing things through a distorted lens and need some help to clear the focus. Once we know what we are dealing with, we can get the help we need. And that help may vary from person to person. What works for me may not be what will help you and vice versa. The important thing is to find that ladder to allow us to climb out of the holes we fall into – and once we’ve found it, keep it handy for next time.