Battles with the Blues

Every so often I sigh as if something terrible has happened, like a loved one has died, or a world war has broken out. Can feel the doom in my stomach as the gloom closes in around me. But then I remind myself, nothing bad has happened, it’s just a side effect of coming off the antidepressants.
Maybe I shouldn’t have quit them. But while writing a recent story, I started to believe that I was winning the war with the blues and on the path to recovery. The citalopram have had side effects, including constant headaches. And I had reached the stage where I wanted to be free of chemicals.
It’s not that I am or have ever been a constant misery.  I believe I’ve had more happiness than most, but think that may be part of the problem. I could have unrealistic expectations. Or is my allocation of happiness used up?
I was originally diagnosed with a post traumatic stress condition. Compared to how I was seven years ago I am now fully healed. But during the recovery other issues came to light. Some degree of bipolar disorder seems to be inherited. I remember at the age of eight, before the major abuse issue, an attack of ennui and existential angst. I faked being sick and was diagnosed with glandular fever. Although all the symptoms could have been caused by the illness, I suspect the illness was caused by the mental state. This event has gone on to be a part of my personal mythology and I even believe it is possible that I was reacting in advance to what would go on to happen in the next year. This may sound crazy, but I frequently find mental states starting before their cause in sequential time. Like an approaching weather front.
During my breakdown I learnt the strategy of turning off. When worries hit me, I shut down the mind and went to sleep. I am now sufficiently strong to try and break this habit. To tackle the worry and seek realistic solutions. But when they attack in packs, I still shutdown. I won’t give them the pleasure of ripping me to bits.
I have learnt various survival strategies. I think most are beneficial, though like drugs, they also have inherent dangers. The first, already mentioned, switching off thoughts, only postpones the problem. Is it really fair to your future self to ignore all your issues and let them stack up so they become impassable? But like a tranquilizer, it takes the edge off the intensity of the instance. It is simple, just relaxing, gaining control of breathing and stilling the mind, tricks I learnt from meditation.
The second cure is nature. A spectacular view literally takes me out of myself. Running and burning off energy releases endorphins and connects me to my surroundings. I often avoid people, but when in a beautiful landscape, I’m never lonely. With my back to a tree trunk, I can feel the body electric, revitalized and balanced. Others, I’ve heard,  enjoy gardening.
The third is music which in many ways works like nature. Again it balances the emotions and if you also dance those same endorphins kick in. Like nature it reconnects us to the magic that is essential to our well being. I am not too bad a dancer, it’s kept me in shape and happier than is legal. Wish I was a better musician, but I still love murdering tunes with my guitar.
The fourth is like the culmination of the earlier techniques. It is cultivating creativity. It could be with music, paint, words or any of the sciences. But when creating we are fulfilling our purpose for existing. Maybe we are machines, but like the rest of nature we like to stay busy reinventing our worlds.
There are many other aids. Cats and holidays, though cats are not so fond of going on holiday. Falling in love might help too.

to be continued.


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