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This is a revision of the first post I wrote for this blog. It came from a journal that I worked at daily for a time, and that experience convinced me that writing about depression was one way I could fight it more actively. I will be publishing revised versions of several early posts over the next few weeks.
Fear wakens with me this morning. I have no idea why. It’s part of a continuing descent I’ve been in for weeks now. After a few great days when I was blazing away at ideas about my projects, depression returned and has been building in its quiet way. But it is fear that is coming on now, and I know if I don’t try to get at this, it will turn to panic and keep me away from everything. Work is impossible when my mind is coming apart. I’ve spent two days at the office, three days at home each of the last three weeks. I’m barely getting the tasks completed to keep each project moving ahead. How commanding and cocksure I’m supposed to be – how implausibly shaky is the reality of my mind and heart.
At work yesterday I could feel the intention to get things done dissolving. My mind was so adrift that it had to work hard to recapture even the memory of whatever urgent task I was about to complete. Then on top of the total loss of drive and feeling and energy, a bare fear came down like sharp hail. This morning I’m feeling it start to return, but this is a new storm that could break up quickly. I’m still strong enough this early in the day to shelter from its full force. I can still tell it to stop. I’m certain that if I let it flow its own course, I will be gripped by a strong panic before long. And what can you do with that inside you? That gets suicidal very quickly because there is no place to run to, no defense that can be constructed through imagery or redirected thought patterns or any other defenses I’ve learned how to use.
The panic isn’t at all like the extreme fear I can feel in the presence of external danger. That fear is part of survival, perhaps the ultimate survival instinct to save yourself. The panic I feel is a shattered drive that points nowhere. It’s not a useful feeling connected to survival instincts. Instead It boils the mind, the feelings, intentions, energy into total confusion and directionless flight. I can’t think at all, much less come up with a destination where I can seek safety. That loss of even the possibility of refuge makes me more and more desperate. What’s left to me of my mind is searching, searching for something to hold onto, something to make it bearable for even a few minutes. How long can the body and brain sustain that destruction? I can’t imagine an end to the attack when I’m in the midst of it.
And yet there is something calming just writing down this little bit. Perhaps trying to describe the worst that could happen will help me keep it away. I’m lucky to have an early warning – that’s rare. Maybe I can avoid the worst of it today.
Do you have a way of catching fear and depression early enough to lessen the impact?