I’m really not a big fan of dark mornings and evenings, but I’m thankful that (thus far at least) we’ve had a fairly mild winter with only one snowfall of any significance. Of course my half empty glass now assumes we’ll get a wet summer by way of compensation… but warm rain beats ice every time.
I do tend to withdraw into myself once the nights start closing in, which isn’t so much of a problem at home (because I share my life with someone incredibly special) , but it does mean numerous outings for my “work face”. I’m lucky that I work in a supportive environment, but it’s still very much part of my nature (and probably always will be) that I will try and hide the fact I’m struggling.
So far this year, every morning has started pretty much the same; I wake up feeling flat usually after some version of recurring dream that I’ve been having since my late teens. I won’t bore you with the details, but the dream relates to a fear of failure that has been a constant companion throughout my adult years. I have vivid dreams every night without exception; and this particular recurrent dream reappears probably two or three times a week. The effect is that I wake feeling mentally drained, yet there’s almost some strange sort of comfort in the normality of a dream I know so well.
Sometimes the sense of heavy-headed negativity has eased fairly quickly, yet there have been days when it just lingers; and one of the worst things about the condition I have is that sometimes I almost want to feel low. Much as I have strategies to cope with, manage or reduce all the worst characteristics of dysthymia, I am also well aware what I have (or even need) to do to make sure the feelings persist.
That might sound ridiculous; it certainly looks ridiculous on paper, but there are times when it seems easier to simply accept feelings that I’ve known so well for so long, and wait until those feelings eventually, but inevitably pass; rather than trying to find the strength for yet another fight with an unseen foe—sometimes you have to pick your battles. My mind will wander on the way to work; negative emotions fill my head, but thankfully I’ve managed to keep the tears at bay; and when I arrive I seem to be ready to switch from introspective to work mode—only eight hours to not give away how I’m really feeling.
For so many years I did not know what was “wrong” with me—and even when I finally realised, I stayed in denial because I mistakenly believed that admitting to any form of mental illness was to admit to weakness. I may not have fully come to terms with the fact that I have a mental health condition, but I am thankful that despite it being chronic, it is also mild; and over recent years I’ve been able to get to know and understand myself and dysthymia pretty well.
There are still times when I feel weak, others when I know I have to be strong; I don’t think I’m brave, nor do I think I am a coward–at least I hope I’m not. I am just me—contrasts, contradictions, flaws and all. Dysthymia has undoubtedly made me who I am… or put another way, I wouldn’t be where I am today without dysthymia. So yes, the past two months haven’t been great, but even on the toughest day, I honestly wouldn’t change the life I have....
I’m very lucky… mental illness can be so cruel. Never be afraid to talk.