Usually, my depressive episodes abruptly end...the same way they begin. Although nothing changes in my life, all of a sudden, I awaken one morning and I feel fine without taking Adderall. But, this time, the depression is receding in a slower fashion. I've been feeling progressively better--although there have been days of feeling worse, but they were usually caused by situational incidents.
So, how do I know a depression is ending? There are some obvious changes in the way I feel.
1. I enjoy gardening and home improvement tasks. If I'm feeling blue, I make myself go outdoors and garden or work on home improvement projects. I don't necessarily enjoy myself, but I know that being outdoors and focusing on clearly defined projects works for me.
Often, it takes hours for a bad mood to lift. While doing these tasks, my thoughts may not be uplifting, but I know that action outside is better than inaction inside. And the more mindless the task, the better. I prefer weeding to planting. I prefer sanding a wall to painting, which requires more precision and a higher level of skill.
When I'm well, I love doing these activities, and they made me feel happy!
2. I enjoy talking on the telephone. When I'm depressed I have to force myself to talk on the telephone, and rarely do it. I prefer communicating with my friends by email. It's actually easier for me to talk with people in person than it is on the phone. Perhaps the reason is because there were years when my voice sounded so off...so sad...when I was depressed that I could barely recognize it myself.
3. I enjoy being with people. Again, the difference is that when a depressive episode lessens, I can force myself to be with people (during certain times of the day). Actually, when I'm depressed and lonely, I prefer being in public places (like libraries) with people, but I'd rather not have to engage them. And when I do interact, oddly enough, it's often easier to be with strangers than with friends.
When I'm well, I genuinely enjoy interacting with others. It's as if my personality switches from introversion to extroversion. Perhaps my gardening and photography classes are good examples. As I've already mentioned, the first day of my gardening class, I felt the other students weren't very friendly.
The second week, I realized that most people talk with others they know. And they weren't unfriendly, just reserved. That week I began identifying the people I thought I'd like. Five of the top qualities I look for are a sense of humor, intelligence, a generosity of spirit, a certainly level of openness, and people who can readily smile and laugh.
The third week, we gardened together so it wasn't an issue. Somehow, communal work brings out the best in people. And so it goes.
My photography class was quite different. The first night I was stunned by how rude six of my classmates were. They talked when our teacher was lecturing, and the tone of some of their questions was rude. I immediately found a friend, a guy who was sitting behind me, because he had a lovely smile, and a ready laugh. But I thought that might be it for this class.
During the second week, I realized that the rude people continued to be rude, but I wasn't the only person who was offended by their behavior. I identified more people I like--some who were shy, and took awhile to open up, and a few who were insecure, but came across as arrogant.
What I realized, and I know this about myself and sometimes forget it, is that the way I respond to people has a great deal to do with my mood. When I'm marginally depressed, everything affects me, and I take everything personally. When I'm well, I don't.
(to be continued)