Year’s End Self-Diagnostic #2
Just like I did last year, I’m going to take a few moments to look back at how this year went, how I’m doing right now, and how I’m going forward.
Like the year before, 2018 has been a rough one if you’re not a wealthy white person and you care about people who aren’t you. Is that a massive generalization? Yep. Is it a little unfair? Maybe. Do I care? At this point, not really. I’m not even going to bother trying to defend it or even argue it. I’m tired of the lie that “both sides are to blame for the political divide in this country” or that “both sides have valid points” when only one political party is actively trying to take away human rights for large segments of the population, blatantly trying to keep people from voting, blatantly changing laws to put more power in their hands, allowing racism to drive their agenda, and…just typing that, I need a nap. I’m caught between trying to be informed, trying to use my privilege for as much good as I can, and also keeping my blood pressure down and my sanity relatively intact. It’s not easy.
I haven’t been writing as much. I’ve written a fair amount of poetry, because short poems are pretty much all I’ve had the attention span and emotional energy for. But even then, I haven’t posted anything on this blog in a little over two months. That doesn’t make my self-esteem very shiny.
I’ve been having more bouts of depression this year and it’s felt like my emotional dysregulation has been particularly bad. I’d come home from work, collapse on the sofa and watch TV until it’s well past a reasonable bedtime, take a sleeping pill, watch more TV until I fall asleep–with that routine sometimes broken up with an oh-so-much-fun emotional breakdown. I might get motivated to do some housework and then fly into a blinding rage when the kitchen tap took too long to heat up or the vacuum cleaner got something caught in it. I blamed all of my dark moods on the state of the U.S. and one specific personal issue (which I might write about in a future post). And then this autumn, I admitted to my closest friends that maybe this was more than situational, maybe my brain meds weren’t working their brain magic as well as they used to. And my friends said, “Talk to your doctor. Now.” So I did. I asked her about upping the dosage of my mood regulator, just a little. My doctor wrote me a new prescription, adding, “If this doesn’t help, we can up the dosage a little more.”
Flashback: the first time my doctor wrote me a prescription for brainy pills, she said, “My goal here isn’t to make you a little better. I want you to be a lot better. I want you to look back and be glad you asked for help.” I heart my doctor.
A month of the higher dosage and I was feeling very much better. Thanks, friends! Thanks, doc! Not that I don’t still get depressed, not that I don’t still get unreasonably upset over little things, but it happens less often and isn’t as intense. My emotional baseline is higher. This feels like…normal? Is normal still a thing? Maybe it’s more like “good weird” instead of “bad weird.” A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I haven’t been missing as much work as I had been been when getting anxiety attacks. I still feel the anxiety, but it isn’t so monstrous that I can’t power through it. That’s pretty great.
While I haven’t been writing as much, I’ve felt much more inspired and engaged with my job. Not that I ever dislike my job, but I’ve been more excited and enthusiastic about it. I feel like I’m being a better librarian, and that puts a shine to my self-esteem. I’m patting myself on the back for that. Big tick in the win column. Gold star for me!
Now that I’m feeling better than I have in a good long while, I’ve been setting myself some goals, working on building better habits. (Hey! Do you know about James Clear‘s new book, Atomic Habits? I highly recommend it if you feel like there are things you’d like to be doing but are having trouble starting and sticking with. Or if you have some habits that are making you feel worse and you’d like to get away from them.) I need more regular exercise (according to my doctor and the way I feel physically) and I want to work on that. Writing makes me happy, so I want to build my writing habits back up. These are parts of my life I have control over. I just need to take more direct control over them.
And I recognize that I’ve been letting my anxiety keep me from going places and doing things that I enjoy. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of the known. But when I push past the anxiety–or accept it as a part of me, but not one that controls me–I usually have fun. And even if I don’t have fun, I still feel good about myself. I’ve been in some pretty tight spots before, and one way or another I’ve gotten out of them. So why am I holding myself back now?
Mentally and emotionally, I’m feeling better again. In 2019, I want to keep moving forward, conceptually and actually.