Waiting for the Sun to Shine

I woke up with all the typical bad day signs. I was lethargic, slow to get out of bed and get going this morning. I took the dog for her morning walk and although it was a beautiful day, the sun was streaming, flowers were blooming and sparrows were jumping about in the hedges I just couldn’t let myself enjoy it. Lassie (our Border Collie) had a great roll around in the spring grass, kicking her legs up in the air, but this time I couldn’t catch her enthusiasm.

It’s been a while since I felt like this. It’s the same sensation as when you are on the verge of catching a cold. You’re limbs are heavy, your movements and thought processes are slow and it feels like your head is full of cotton wool. You will undoubtedly have seen cartoon characters with rain clouds hovering above their heads, following them wherever they go, and that isn’t far from how I feel. Instead of hovering above my head though, the cloud is inside it, forming a barrier around my brain, like heavy grey mud, clinging to my thoughts and dragging them down.

I remember the first time I realised that I really might be suffering from depression. I was writing an essay for one of my university courses and I had been slogging away at it for days. I was making no progress, two days and the word count stayed around the 1,500 mark. I just didn’t seem to be able to add any words despite all the editing and reading I was doing. Then, at about 10 PM one day, it felt as if the sun had come out from behind a cloud. It is the only way I can describe it. It’s like when you are outside on a grey day and suddenly the sun breaks through the clouds and falls on your face. I remembered why I was at university, why I loved that particular course, and why I was writing that particular essay. Within the next few hours I had almost doubled the word count.

Right now with the clay sensation in my head, I am waiting for the sun to break through again. But I am lucky, because for me these dark days are happening less and less frequently, I am still able to type this blog post and when the sun breaks through it stays for a little longer each time.

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Breakthrough

I’ve finally done it!

I have finally sent off my application for postgraduate study.

It probably shouldn’t have been a big deal but a lot of indecision was involved. I wasn’t sure whether I could handle going back to university. I wasn’t sure what pressures it would put on my mental health, and by extension my marriage. I wasn’t sure about the financial pressures, whether I could keep up with my job whilst studying and the impact that would have on paying off the mortgage and starting a family. I wasn’t sure what would happen when that hoped for family got started. What benefit would the extra degree be if I didn’t pursue a career in academia? What if I was a stay-at-home-mum or remained in my current job (which I greatly enjoy)? Would it be a waste of time and money? Would it be ‘worth it’?

I couldn’t even make up my mind what ‘worth it’ boiled down to. I have a very specific reason for applying for the degree course, to continue researching the building I studied for my undergraduate dissertation. I needed to choose an extract of that dissertation to include in the application, another thing that made it difficult. My depression started during the final year of my undergraduate degree and my dissertation is one of the main triggers for it.

In the end what helped me push through all the doubting and anxiety was a book entitled Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. The book focuses on eating disorders but at its core is an examination of compulsive behaviour and personal values. My initial inclination for reading it was because it offered a different perspective on exploring spirituality. But it has prompted some musings which I hope to write about. I think that writing the blog helped me complete the application. The exercise in writing that this project originated as seems to have paid off. I haven’t worked on my book at all but it seems to have assisted me in articulating my thoughts.