The Ebb and Flow
It’s only February. That’s what I was thinking as I pushed my face into a pillow on Sunday and sobbed and moaned. After celebrating my 38th birthday, January went down hill. We had to put down our beloved dog that we’d had for 13 years, I got a random, wicked sinus/throat infection and after two steroid shots, a round of Prednisone and a course of antibiotics I was feeling a little better (it came back Monday) Oh – I had not had a good night’s sleep in three weeks. And. It. Is. Only. February.
I’ve written at length about my struggles with anxiety and depression. I’m glad to say that I have reduced my anxiety meds by 15 mg. I have a phenomenal job (job issues were a huge part of my stress) and even though I’m making a lot less money, the time and energy I’ve gotten back is priceless. But Sunday I was ready to sleep for the rest of the year. Sleep deprivation isn’t good for anybody. It’s especially damaging for me because it exacerbates my anxiety. Without adequate sleep the smallest things send me either into tears or a rage. Couple that with the extraordinary amount of steroids I’m on right now and you have a recipe for the ebb.
I wanted to be sure that I was using the term ‘ebb and flow’ correctly (sometimes I think I know what something means but I use it in the wrong context). My search landed me at this definition – a recurrent or rhythmical pattern of coming and going or decline and regrowth. To me, it perfectly describes my life with mental illness. There are days and months that are the decline. They are filled with dreams, tears, frustrations and fervent prayers. And then there are long stretches of regrowth. Those too are filled with fervent prayers (generally for more days of regrowth) but more smiles and laughs and sleep that is filled with nothing but darkness and rest. I’d grown so peaceful in the regrowth that the decline threw me off. I wasn’t sure where I had gone wrong and immediately thought – maybe I need to up the meds a little. When I mentioned it to my husband and he told me to give it some time, I was furious. He couldn’t possibly know what to do (we’ve been together 20 years – he knew what he was saying).
It’s been a few days and I’m sleeping a little better. I’ve also been more realistic about this process. There’s going to be days, weeks, even months that will flow by filled with nothing more than what appears to be ‘normal’ life stresses. But then there will be that ebb. That feeling of dread and despair. But it’s a natural part of the process and the flow always comes back – it’s just part of the rhythm.
Until next time…