Insomnia, Anhedonia and The Unbearable Politeness of Being

30 Mar

Right now my favourite part of the day is the last half hour or so, which is the time I spend fighting the effects of my prescription sleeping pill. I get to ride this wave of sleepy euphoria, where the whirring, clanking machinery inside my head slows down and all of my limbs are loose and relaxed. It’s like being drunk or high, except that it feels very calm and safe — unlike other altered states of consciousness, I know that nothing can go wrong. When I finally do lie down, with the thought that I have several hours of blissful unconsciousness to look forward to, I feel everything draw away from me, my body suspended in a dark sea as I wait for sleep to gather at the edge of the horizon and then come crashing over me.

This is what I look forward to, from the time I wake up until the time I take my sleeping pill. On bad days, everything else just seems like crap that I have to get to in order to get to this moment, this brief stretch of time when I am guaranteed to feel good in my body. And I know that that’s really, really fucked up.

The problem is that recognizing that a feeling is fucked up and figuring out how to change things enough so that you don’t feel it anymore are two very, very different things.

The last few months have been rough, for a variety of reasons that I’m not going to get into right here and right now. I’ve gone from feeling like my life was great and I was super on top of all of my shit to feeling like everything’s falling apart and I’m the most useless person in existence. Part of the problem is that I’ve had a lot of social isolation, which hasn’t really been anybody’s fault but also hasn’t been great. My anxiety’s been a bag of dicks, and the intrusive thoughts are getting old. I try to avoid triggers, but it’s hard and sometimes counterproductive. Like, if I’m trying to avoid something and then I worry about how I can avoid and whether I can actually avoid it or not, and then it’s just the same old tingling fear all spruced up in new clothing. And all of my energy’s somehow been sucked out of me, leaving this sagging bag of stupid flesh where there used to be a body that actually slept and ate and sometimes felt good.

These days, I don’t want to get out of bed. Like, ever. In the mornings I don’t want to get up and go to work, and once I’m home again all that I want to do is climb back under the covers and immediately lose consciousness. I keep telling my friends that my bed is a black hole, and if I’m at home I’m irresistibly pulled towards it by some kind of mysterious gravitational force. They laugh, and then I laugh, and then we all complain about how miserable this winter has been, but the fact is that like all good jokes, this one is firmly rooted in the truth. I told my therapist that I sometimes daydream about being in an induced coma, a state where machines would do absolutely everything for me.* I tell her that the idea of just lying there and not being responsible for a single thing, not even breathing, sounds incredibly appealing to me. She tells me that it sounds womb-like, but then she’s the kind of therapist who thinks that everything sounds womb-like.

I don’t feel much pleasure these days. I mean, do things – I do all of my regular, every day things – and it’s fine, but there’s this sense of getting through everything instead of enjoying it. It’s always, how many more minutes in this yoga class. Or, how many more bites left of this meal. Or else, how many much longer left of this show. Each activity is little more than a way of marking time until I can wash that little blue pill down with a glass of water and float my way into darkness. I’m taking a lot of pills these days – Zoloft for depression and anxiety, zopiclone for sleep, hormonal birth control for a barren womb, and copious amounts of tylenol for the tension headaches that creep in a couple of times a week. It’s like the valley of the goddamn dolls around here. Still, it’s better with the pills than without.

I think about my old life, my life before I had a kid, and I wonder how I did it. Up at six every morning for work, at the office for eight hours, then typically a seventy-five  minute yoga class and hangouts with friends. Oh and I also somehow managed to write a novel somewhere in there. Who the fuck was that person? Now I can barely drag myself out of bed at eight, and I only work a few hours a day (unless you count doing all the things that I don’t get paid for, like writing and parenting – you shouldn’t though, because I don’t count them). If I feel up to it, I take a yoga class. Often I don’t. When I’m not working I come home and dither around the apartment, unable to read or write or sit for any length of time. I try to talk myself into cleaning, but I usually don’t have the energy. I almost always end up napping, or else refreshing social media websites nonstop for two hours. Whatever ends up happening, it only makes me hate myself more.

What happened to all of my energy? I mean, how did I stay home and look after a toddler full-time less than two years ago? Is there actually something wrong with me, or am I just lazy? I’ve had all the right tests done – vials and vials of blood drawn, doctors peering down my throat and in my ears, but still no answers. It’s nothing physical, or at least nothing that anyone can find. I just have no motivation. It’s tempting to blame depression or anxiety, but somehow that feels disingenuous – I can’t exactly articulate why that is, but it’s probably something along the lines of how incredibly convenient it is for me to have an illness that prevents me from doing all of the things that I hate, things like cleaning, cooking, answering emails in a timely fashion, and generally staying on top of my shit. I mean how nice for me to be sick in exactly the way that forces others to pick up my slack while they kindly tell me to take it easy on myself, to be kind to myself, to do more things for me. But I already do everything for me. That’s my problem. All of the things that I do are for me and I still feel like shit.

I get everything that I want and more, but that fact doesn’t make any difference because I am a garbage person who deserves a garbage life.

At least, that’s what I’m told by the internal voice that I hear all the damn time until I shove a little blue pill in its face.

I don’t know why I’m writing all of this, except that I guess I had to get it off my chest. Maybe I just want someone to tell me that they’ve been there, and it gets better, and that I’ll make it through somehow. Maybe I’m hoping that the act of putting all of this out there, publicly, will somehow break this feeling’s hold over me. I want things to change – I want to love my days again instead of my dreamy, disjointed nights. I want to be able to think clearly, without these anxious thoughts clouding out everything else. I want to write because I love it, not because I feel like I should. I want to be a better mother, a better lover, a better friend. I want to feel something other than this stupid grey grinding nothingness, this fake laugh that’s just a little too loud, this sense of only ever enduring. I want and I want and I want and all of that goddamn wanting is exhausting.

I just need to you to promise me that I will feel better soon.

Jon Han for the NYTimes

Jon Han for the NYTimes

*I know, I know, induced comas aren’t fun, medical stuff isn’t fun, the ICU isn’t fun – I’m aware of how ridiculous my daydream is. But still.

66 Responses to “Insomnia, Anhedonia and The Unbearable Politeness of Being”

  1. Grief Happens March 30, 2014 at 2:54 am #

    Ugh, really I know. You described quite eloquently exactly how I’ve been feeling the last month. I do know from previous experiences that I will feel better but damn if it just doesn’t seem that way right now. Cheers to our bedtime pill. Much love and feel better soon!

  2. saradraws March 30, 2014 at 3:08 am #

    Ann Hedonia will be my new pen name.
    Zopiclone will be my loyal dog.

    I’m not in a position to say it will get better. But people I trust say that, so it must be true. Much love, AT.

  3. runningnekkid March 30, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    I don’t know if anything will get better. But I did want to let you know that I am here and listening, and that I feel so many of the same things that you articulate. I cycle between feeling on top of my shit and feeling like shit pretty regularly. It’s hard to be super invested in washing the dishes or whatever when the world is a fucking cesspool and I want to figure out some way to make it better for my children beyond just raising them to make it better for themselves. I think that you’re doing a lot of hard work and getting a lot of help with the intrusive brain thoughts from people who follow your blog just to tell you you’re the worst ever. That cannot be healthy. It would make me fricking exhausted and desperately overwhelmed, that’s for sure.

    I do hope you keep talking about your reliance on your sleeping pills. That is scary stuff.

    Also, I think our therapists are soul mates or something, because the womb thing is totally something mine would say.

    • Anne March 30, 2014 at 3:52 am #

      You hit on an interesting point. “It’s hard to be super invested in washing the dishes or whatever when the world is a fucking cesspool.” To add on to your insightful statement, I feel like why bother with such mundane tasks like folding underwear and dusting the bookshelves when there is so much to do, learn, read, accomplish, fix before I die.

      • finsburyparkanne March 31, 2014 at 7:49 am #

        I have had problems understanding the point of mundane stuff and end up neglecting myself to be “useful” helping other people, which just doesn’t work as a way of staying well.
        Thich Nhat Hanh is very good on washing up, eating oranges and reasons for being in “The Miracle of Mindfulness”. Now I understand why my mum enjoys ironing plus he writes so calmly, it’s good just to read. Haven’t managed to enjoy hoovering yet though, or supermarket shopping.

  4. Kathleen March 30, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    I used to daydream about my car drifting into the opposite lane into oncoming traffic. And oh, my bed – it was my alpha and omega.

    The path back to life from that dim foggy gray place was long and so gradual that I barely noticed that I was out until I was nearly a year out of it. For me, Effexor created the foundation upon which all the therapy could build.

    And you know what else helped? Knitting. Keeping my hands moving, feeling the softness of the yarn, seeing something come into being in the physical world as a result of my slow, steady, repetitive actions. I wish I lived near you so that I could bring you needles and yarn and tea and evidence that this exhausting monotonous landscape will change for you.

  5. Michelle March 30, 2014 at 3:16 am #

    You will feel better soon. I really really hope so. I love reading your writing. Keep shining a light.

  6. Lunochka March 30, 2014 at 3:19 am #

    Is that feeling fucked-up? Maybe not as much as you think. It is not just human nature, it is animal nature to seek relief from pain, and you’re in pain. It isn’t as if you’re taking the pill earlier, or more often — you’re just looking forward to that time when you don’t hurt as badly as usual. And that is normal for your situation.

    That person you were has not gone irretrievably far away. Depression in particular can remit and relapse. I don’t know how long you’ve been on this combination of medications or who’s managing them. I don’t know how many you’ve tried and how long you’ve been trying. Various professionals helped me build my cocktail over eleven years, and now it works pretty well except when I’ve got a giant bundle of stress on my shoulders like some cartoonish laundry sack.

    I have been there (all too recently) (every time I look at this woman’s dissertation, good gods). It has got better every time I trudged on through the muck. It’s all right to feel what you’re feeling and it’s all right to wish you didn’t feel those things. It’s even all right to ditch whatever doesn’t feel good until you start to want it again. Who says you’re obliged to be prompt with your correspondence? Here’s a pill to consider: Feckitol. As often as necessary, followed by the libation of your choice. “Feck it all” instead of “Salud” and let yourself heal. It isn’t selfish. It isn’t convenient. It just is. And it isn’t your doing, so you can feel guilty if you like but you don’t have to.

    • Marla Davis (Who) March 30, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

      Yes, the pain comes from somewhere, and it isn’t your doing. Yes, take care of yourself and let yourself heal. The answers lie in the sum total of things you have heard and known all along, but brushed them off at the time, and they still dog you. Add them up.

  7. Elizabeth March 30, 2014 at 3:23 am #

    I want to tell you it will get better but I am, unfortunately, right there with you. I don’t know you personally, but I read your posts all the time, and I am amazed at what you do accomplish, and I am amazed at how well you articulate how you are feeling, and I sometimes bring your posts to my therapist to say, “THIS is what I’ve been trying to tell you.”

    I am a braver person, at least in therapy, because of your work here.

    Things will get better.

    • Migratory Habits April 1, 2014 at 6:37 am #

      “I am a braver person…because of your work here”

      I second that! I started reading this blog recently and it has given me courage to be more honest with myself and others about my depression. This is yet another post that I can totally relate to. I have been feeling like that for months now: no motivation to do anything, no real desire to get out of bed in the morning, and generally feeling shitty that I’m not a better and more giving person. But I know it will pass. It has to.

      Thank you, Anne, for sharing. You are an amazing writer.

  8. Anne March 30, 2014 at 3:50 am #

    I want to tell you that I am where you are now. For a brief period, I wasn’t. I was happy, embracing life, feeling grateful and “on”. Now, I am back to where I was before and where you are now. I get to do lots of amazing things like write, shoot photos, hang out with my kickass friends, read, etc but still I lack motivation to clean, put away laundry and build my business. I’m scared. I’m lazy. I’m tired. I’m confused. The time when I felt the most perfect and happy was when I was giving of my own time to others who were, for lack of a better phrase, much worse off than me. Spending time with those who have issues that you’ve never thought to deal with is a great equalizer and eye-opener. I got overwhelmed with it all and stepped back from it. I started saying yes to everyone because that was the “right thing to do”. Now I stepped back so much that I don’t do anything for anyone but myself really. Therapy helps. Self improvement helps. Helping others really helps. All of these are forms of stepping outside yourself and looking at yourself the way others see you. What they see is at once surprising and inspiring.

  9. Kristie March 30, 2014 at 3:53 am #

    I’ve had the “coma” fantasy since I was about 13. And yes to everything you’ve said – I’m going to print out copies of this post and hand them out to all of my well-meaning friends and family. And my doctor, who recently told me to drink more herbal tea.

  10. Jasmine March 30, 2014 at 4:11 am #

    It will get better. Soon. I promise.

    Also: don’t say “my” anxiety. It isn’t something that belongs to you, it’s something that lives wholly outside of you and passes through. It’ll go, as long as you don’t claim it as something you own. “Your” dark cloud follows you everywhere you go, but “a” dark cloud casts a shadow you walk out the other side of.

  11. Jocelyn R Hunter March 30, 2014 at 4:18 am #

    Everybody has such really great comments. The only thing I can add is that if you are like me, one day you will just kind of ‘wake up’ – that is the only appropriate way I have been able to describe it. And when you do, you have to realize that you don’t want to go back where you just came from, because it’s going to seem like everything around you is seeking to push you down. I fought tooth and nail to stay out of the mire, and now it isn’t so hard. To be sure, there are some bad days, but not so many as there were, and none that my new self can’t handle. Everything that I have read from you tells me that you will make it, too.

  12. irascible zen March 30, 2014 at 4:36 am #

    I think it will get better and I think it’s going to be okay.

    I think it is probably useful that you externalised all this so that it’s not kept like some alternate reality you’re swimming around in within your own experience, occasionally hoisting yourself up from through rapid water-treading long enough and high enough away from the water to shout something awesome at your readers…because it’s not inconsistent with the outside reality. this is something that makes sense in this life. (and those partitioned realities are crazy-making. so good call on that.) (i know you’re externalising it elsewhere, but still.)

    i think that probably you will learn little things that help, maybe from suggestions or maybe your own intuitions. and you might learn a bigger thing or relearn a truism. frankl and sartre might talk to you about meaning – i can’t tell you to create, you already do, admirably! but don’t stop. maybe try other expression things.
    and annoyingly you will probably have to do things that are not enjoyable, rather than “because you love it”, for awhile. like getting over most emotion/brain things. your experience can change. i bet it has before.

    it sort of helps me, and some others i’ve known, to look for something that feels true. and go with that. feeling true can feel real can feel like yourself can feel like meaning can feel like …. a feeling. i don’t mean in the abstract, as a solution, i mean in a given moment. anything other than “i want to go to sleep” that feels true. maybe that will be useful, maybe not…

    from what little i know of you it sounds like this is a point in your experiences that it makes sense to have some what-the-fuck overwhelm; to be tired; to be unmotivated. things are less discrete than in some life points. and, it IS winter. and that does suck. so.
    looking after the basics really can help – motivated by something that feels true about them, if that helps, like ‘i really do like this tea’ or ‘i think it’s true that i feel better, if not much, when i eat [x]/more/more [x]/whatever’. ‘i know nothing else with certainty in this moment but that i like the feeling of the sun on my face’. whatever. 🙂

    i think your experience can change. i think it is very likely to. i don’t know what you will learn from this, maybe nothing – some people come through rough periods without a lesson. i usually end up with one that sounds totally meaningless and trite except that i know that i dragged it up with me from the depths of hell so it means something to me.

    but i really think that soon, you will feel better. and in some time, you will feel like what you are experiencing now has passed.

    thanks for all the awesome stuff you share.

  13. Cal March 30, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    I feel like I am in that space too. How convenient for me to have an illness that stops me from making decisions and moving out of my parents’ house and starting my life, right? Except that’s what the depression is making me think. It’s making me feel hopeless and useless and scared. It’s making me think that nothing will ever be okay, that I’ve done this to myself somehow, that all this is my fault. It’s making me think it will be like this forever and I will never get on top of it.

    It’s not true though. It’s not true for me or for you, even though right now we think it is. It will get better, for both of us. It has to.

    Thank you for writing so candidly about how you’ve been feeling. It made me feel less alone. I hope you feel less alone now too.

  14. welliswan March 30, 2014 at 5:57 am #

    Oof, all so familiar. Here is the thing: when I read this, it’s so obvious to me that OF COURSE you’re depressed and not lazy and OF COURSE you’re not a garbage person, and that you will not feel like this for always, that eventually both the literal and the metaphorical spring will come–maybe not together, but they’ll each turn up sooner or later. But when I am filled with self-loathing and scarcely escaping the gravity of my own bed, none of that is obvious to me at all. Depression is such a fucking liar, is what I’m trying to say here.

    You will feel better, you will.

  15. Rosie March 30, 2014 at 6:04 am #

    I have been on both sides of this, and although I’m struggling right now and relating hard to what you’ve written here, I know it does get better when you find the right treatment for you. And you will. ❤

  16. kat March 30, 2014 at 6:18 am #

    I am writing this from my tub at almost two in the morning.i can’t sleep..and so i decide to take a bath again,my second in three hours, the first in the hopes that the bath would work as a relaxant and I might sleep for more than two hours at a time.i can so relate to your post and I can offer up this for you as well as a reminder to is cyclical,so life gets better and then worse and then better again.the trick I believe,is to know and believe that this too shall pass,and not to get to attached to any feeling, be it happy or sad,painful or delicious, and try as best as you can to be present in the moment and breathe and breathe and breathe again.

  17. Linked not ranked March 30, 2014 at 6:27 am #

    Anne, I’ve only ‘discovered’ your writing recently. I love it. You are a clear, eloquent, intelligent voice in the cacophony of life. So I hope you feel better soon.

    Each of us are different, so what keeps me sane may not be what keeps you sane. But I’ll share my ‘recipe’, and it’s completely up to you to use (and adjust for own life) or not.

    What works for me:

    Nature first. I live by the beach in Australia and make a point of going for a walk at least every 2nd day. Breathe the sea air, lie back on the grass. Watch clouds. Swim in the sea whenever you can. Walk with bare feet ON the grass. Or ON the beach. Play with or run with dogs – their enthusiasm is a tonic in itself. Whenever I feel low is usually because I’ve been slack with my nature connections.

    Vit D. Get enough. Supplement if you can’t get sun on you for at least 20 mins a day.

    No TV. Yes, I choose to live without TV. That way I have more time for reading (literature) or simply ‘being’, and revelling in the quiet.

    Astrology. Yes, I realise there’s still huge stigma re: unorthodox awareness, but stuff it. Most people think astrology is all about ‘signs’ and horoscopes – while that’s just 1% of it. There is a specific astrologer who has been, and is, a positive LIFELINE in terms of tuning into the unseen awesome within. Her blog, forecasts and emails’ wisdom are out of this world. Have taught me much about myself, especially to be more supportive of myself and to embrace not only the light, but also the dark. Check out It’s like a weather report for the soul.

    Whole foods. I don’t cook. Easy for me as I live by myself. Whole foods make me feel better. Check out Dr Christiane Northrup if you haven’t already. Bear in mind that I’m not a health fanatic. I still have my dark chocolate, coffee and biscuits when I want (daily). Life’s too short not to. Also Google ‘Hungry for Change’. Watch the short video.

    Sleep. Sounds like you’re onto it. Which is good. Yet, harsh as this may sound, you can’t stay on sleeping pills forever. When you’re ready, wean yourself off. Try magnesium powder, and Valerian forte about an hour before bed.

    Thou shalt not take shite. I think you’re already practising this, but a reminder never goes astray. You’re doing an AMAZING job. You’re fighting the twits who don’t ‘get’ feminism. Realise you’re not alone. You don’t have to do it all by yourself.

    Read more books. Books can save you. So can poetry.

    Listen to music you enjoy. Lie in bed and absorb the beauty. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is my favourite ‘reset’ – especially ‘Winter’ and ‘Summer’.

    Cleaning – ugh. Yeah, I know what you mean! I’ve learned to think about cleaning differently now though, almost from a semi-feng shui perspective. Cleaning moves negative energy out/away, and opens uo space for fresh new energy/ideas/perspective. Take cleaning to a new level with essential oils instead of chemicals. Lavender, bergamot and sandalwood are my faves. Many more to choose from.

    Avoid people who are energy vampires. Care less about what people think (or what you *think* they think), and care more about what YOU think.

    Nurture your sense of humour. If it takes watching a funny movie, or going to a local comedy gig, do it. Humour is the everything.

    Go for a massage by candlelight. Do it, and be thankful for the sheer wonder of the human body.

    I know that I will think of a million more ideas once I press ‘post’, but hey, in the meantime, please go with the flow as much as possible. Embrace your bed with full enthusiasm if that’s what gives you pleasure right now. Feel, really FEEL the sadness. Don’t fight it. The only way out is through.

    Hope the above hasn’t come across as ‘preachy’. I mean it with much love!

  18. Shae March 30, 2014 at 6:29 am #

    Hi. The wall is the wall. In have taken a year off and struggled with only wanting to sleep or
    Drink wine. If you would like tomtalk more my email is It has felt much like recuperating from an illness with no illness present. As if we are healing the world by taking the time to heal ourselves. There are many of us out here. Hugs and love. And rest. It is ok.

  19. Chloe Blades March 30, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    I’m so pleased i fell upon your blog you’re fascinating!

  20. pickledsparklymooseprincess March 30, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    Of course it gets better. It gets better when you commit yourself to changing thought patterns. It gets better, and it gets worse. You have to remember each tiny step in the right direction, so you have some hope when things feel bad.

  21. Amanda Martin (writermummy) March 30, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Your post described my life and I loved reading all the comments and ideas beneath: particularly the dark cloud not being *your* dark cloud but one that you walk under and hopefully out the otherside. Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other to get away from that cloud is the hardest thing.
    For me, depression has become so much harder to handle now I have small children. I can’t run away to the other side of the world, or throw myself into work twelve hours a day (or even take sleeping pills because my husband doesn’t wake when they call in the night). People are always telling parents to live in the moment, but nothing makes depression harder than feeling every dreary soul-sucking life-has-no-meaning moment. I never wanted to end my own life before, when I was depressed, just radically change it: new home, new job. Now I’m trapped being wife and Mummy I dream about ending my life all the time. You always want what you can’t have I guess.
    Anyway, I meant to be supportive rather than sharing my own shit. Sorry. I hope things get better soon.

  22. Amanda Martin (writermummy) March 30, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    Reblogged this on writermummy and commented:
    I just had to reblog this post: It decribes exactly how I feel at the moment, only much more eloquently than I could ever put it. The comments beneath are worth reading too.

  23. settingtheworld March 30, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    So beautifully written x

  24. Vanessa-Jane Chapman March 30, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    I’ve clicked ‘like’ not because I like what you’re going through, but just as another show of support like the other likes up there. It’s clear from the comments that you’ve helped others who are going through similar things just by articulating so well how you’re feeling, and that alone was worth getting out of bed for.

  25. M T McGuire March 30, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    All you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s slow and you’ll feel as if nothing is happening but it is. Just too slowly for you to notice. Concentrate on enjoying the things you can. Don’t feel guilty about whether you’re showing your little one enough affection just enjoy loving them. You haven’t forgotten how, that’s just your intrusive thoughts pretending. The trick to doing this is finding a way to flick the view on its head and make a negative into a positive.

    And go easy on yourself and give yourself some slack. This stuff takes time.

    That’s how I get through the hard stuff, for what it’s worth.

    God bless and good luck.



  26. Liz March 30, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    Gosh, your words are so comforting to me. I,too, have been struggling with the monotony of life lately. I’ve also tried all of the methods that I know have worked in the past to make myself feel better, and the fact that they don’t work adds to the crushing sensation that it’s never going to go away. However, there are always moments of natural joy, however small. Ones that just spring up when you’re not looking and catch you by surprise. I know the pain of ‘trying’ to feel these is detrimental sometimes because it can so casually remind you that you’ve failed at it… but yes, as the others are saying, sometimes it’s best just to say to yourself ‘fuck it all’ because I know that when you do, you won’t be left with someone you don’t like. You’ll be there, gleaming in all your natural glory, because, from what I understand of you from reading your work for a couple of years, is that you’re inherently good, smart, witty and brilliant.

    Please don’t stop writing, I relish the opportunity to see what you’re saying when the little ‘ding’ comes through on the email and I see that it’s you. You inspire me all the time to just keep writing, possibly above everything else… because it’s the singular most cohesive way of communicating that I’ve ever been able to manage.

    Much love 🙂

  27. nicciattfield March 30, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    I had a horrible year in 2010, more intense anxiety than depression. It’s always been there but it spiraled. With the therapist’s help, it gradually subsided and went away, and now it’s limited to incidents. Everything was a disaster, I wanted understanding and at the same time I felt self obsessed and guilty.

    It goes, and you know, being cared for isn’t that bad. I learned that I’d been so concerned for everyone that I hadn’t taken time for me, so I was overwhelmed. Getting to know that helped a lot.

    It’s okay, a process, a dark night if the soul, and when you come out of it, you’re different. My life is better now. I love it more. But at the time of imagining disasters around every turn, it was utterly unbearable.

    I hope you feel better soon, and are well supported and looked after till then!

  28. Heather March 30, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    I have been where you are. In fact, I spent about 15 years where you are. I sometimes have nightmares of ending up back there, even though I have lived in my own brave, new world for about 20 years. That’s right. This world, not that one. I count myself as one of the luckiest people on earth. I made it out of there. And I am not going back. Ever.

    And because I have had the incredible good fortune of existing in both places, I have learned that each day in this world is a gift I’ve been given, and I am grateful. I am grateful too, for experiencing that other place, because it taught me that I have amazing strength, and you do too. To wake up every day to that awful soul-sucking place and continue to fight to get to the next day – that takes a strength you can’t even imagine you have. But you do. In spades.

    I can’t promise you that you will have the same good fortune. But I can tell you that you have all of the qualities required to make it to this place. More than I had. You are a strong soul, and deep down there somewhere you know it. You are an inspiration to me, both as a person, and a writer. That world is a very real place. You can make it.

  29. J.C March 30, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    God, I understand all of this so well. When I was depressed and my anxiety was at its peak, it felt like a major achievement to get up at all. That feeling of needing to separate yourself & have everything taken care of for a while is totally acceptable. That’s how it goes when you’re under that black fog. It feels endless and like you’ll never climb out, but it does ease up. Something that helped me was to focus on small victories – ‘got up and got dressed on time’, for example. After a while they start to add up. Keep reaching out, accept as much help as you can & take care of yourself. It won’t always be like this.

  30. Toby March 30, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Reblogged this on Speaker's Corner.

  31. MarinaSofia March 30, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Good to read all the supportive comments and I’m not sure I can add to that, other than to say that I too have been there (or am there, not sure it’s in the past, it seems to come back in cycles). I don’t have a therapist and I don’t take pills, mainly because I am a coward and don’t want to actually admit to a doctor that I have a problem. However, I’ve been a volunteer for a helpline for depressed and suicidal people and I know that it’s all about seeing beyond the next hour. And not believing that the rest of your life will forever be like this next hour. So I sometimes just eke it out to the next hour, try to distract myself for time to pass. Reading is my drug of choice, because writing can sometimes get too angry, too miserable. Some days are better than others and I try to take it one day at a time.
    I love what you write and how you think, you are most certainly not alone, and I just wish and hope things get better for you soon.

  32. Sarah March 30, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    Here’s evidence that it doesn’t always have to be like that: I was there, and I’m not there now. As one of the commenters said, each person’s remedy will be different. For the record here’s mine: my children grew up a lot and my husband lost his job. These things meant that I was forced to assess my priorities. It also gave me the time I needed to learn how to meditate properly and figure out what the Buddha was teaching. I could really relate to a philosophy that had “Life is suffering” as it’s first “Noble Truth” so I had the incentive to learn more. A lot of airy-fairy nonsense and Buddhist jargon has built up around meditation but the core concepts are immensely practical and healing. HTH

  33. Andrea March 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    One step at a time can mean on mili-second at a time when you deal with bipolar issues( bipolar two here) but it WILL get better. Med chex lately? And, gotta tell you, hormones don’t help much in the struggle.

    It WILL GET BETTER. Be good to yourself. BTW, did you see that your “lynching” piece got picked up on BELIEVE OUT LOUD? You don’t have to do it alone….we’re here too

  34. Grief Happens March 30, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Reblogged this on Grief Happens and commented:
    I read this last night as I was about to sleep — my favorite part of the day lately. She describes so eloquently how I’ve been feeling the past few weeks. The comments are worth looking at as well. I know from experience that things will get better, but it’s not fun in the meantime. Anne’s blog and writing are amazing. I send love and light and hope she feels better soon.

  35. jesskawrites March 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Oh man! Sending good thoughts your way – hang on in there 🙂

  36. amyschacht March 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    O I SO resonate with the whole “am I just a lazy bum? What is WRONG with me! There’s probably nothing wrong with me, I’m just lazy….” circular thinking. That so well describes what my own depression feels like – to one degree or another. And I so wish we could point to x and say, “See? That’s what is wrong.” But having had physical illnesses that showed up on an mri, I STILL thought, “I’m just lazy. I just need push on through. Push harder.” Sorry – none of this probably helps, except to say you aren’t alone, and yeah this is totally lousy … One minute at a time. Breathe. And another will come without you doing anything to make it come.

  37. Terahlyanwë March 30, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Have you read Hyperbole and a Half’s post “Depression Part Two” ? It’s…remarkably helpful for me when I’m struggling through a rough week. Or month. Or year. And you’re not a lazy bum. Seriously, I’m sure you’re not.

  38. Ben Sharp March 30, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    I’ve read your blog for ages and I’m sorry you’re ill again. I enjoyed reading your 2013 round up posts and it made me go back through my journal and do the same thing for myself. So thanks for that, it’s nice to look back on during the darker days, to remind myself that life isn’t as bad as I remember it. Brains are fuckers sometimes, the good times come round again though. Here’s hoping you get back there soon.

  39. stankmeaner March 30, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    I’ve been through it, grey and apathetic that got progressively worse over the past two years. I’m honestly not sure what started the uptick onto the path of giving a shit again, but it’s been steadily getting better over the past six months. All I can say that I did is kept trying. Not on any sort of a regular basis, but my brain still held the ideas of things that I had enjoyed in the past, the tenets learned in yoga classes and meditation, and when I had the energy I applied them. So it does get better, incrementally and without explanation apparently, but from where I was a year ago compared to right now, it’s a world of difference.

  40. Marisa Michelle March 30, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    I’m glad to read you’re seeing a therapist because this behaviour is a dangerous cycle (it takes one to know one). This resonates so deeply with me because I’m feeling this same way – particularly when you say this:

    “I mean how nice for me to be sick in exactly the way that forces others to pick up my slack while they kindly tell me to take it easy on myself, to be kind to myself, to do more things for me.”

    This is the irrational part of depression/anxiety. And it’s a great way to wallow in guilt and shame (I looove to feel guilty).

    I’m not going to tell you it gets better because those words really do start to sound hollow & disingenuous because when you feel like this it’s like, “Well, how long do I have to wait? Is there a threshold?”

    Sometimes, the only thing i can do is stare blankly at a television show and I so desperately want to read or do something productive, but I can’t.

    Even now, I’m looking outside and I’m seeing snow (the weather is like groundhog day here in Montreal) & I know I have to visit my grandparents (my grandfather has been ill) & it’s taking everything in me to not call and cancel. It took everything in me to get into the shower. I barely slept last night because thoughts were circling so rapidly in my brain. Feeling sorry for myself. Thinking about all the things I could have done yesterday other than lie on the sofa (as I said, I loooove feeling guilty).

    Solidarity sister. ❤

  41. Scott.D.Brodersen March 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Things will get better. I’ve been there, you’ll get better. I had no idea that you are suffering (of course) and I’m thankful that you told us about it.

  42. deb March 30, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    CALL ME. 707.596.0810 DEBROCK.ME.

  43. justmeactually March 30, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    What you say matters. You matter. Thank you for making me feel less alone.

  44. auburnlangley March 31, 2014 at 2:21 am #

    Oh Lady! I can totally empathize. I went from an Academic, avid reader and socialite, highly efficient…to being diagnosed with M.E, the very illness which could zap me of the juju needed to keep on being me.

    You have an amazing gift as a writer and I’m sorry you’re going through this at the moment. The only advice I can give is learning to pace yourself. Don’t expect to just flick a switch and go right back to how you were before you started feeling this way. Take it slow, take it easy. Find one task to do every day and keep going with it til you can cope with two.

    Hope things improve for you….and that you keep writing 😀 xx

  45. MELewis March 31, 2014 at 5:28 am #

    Funny how we fear death yet seek oblivion. Most days I manage to keep the sleeping pills in the drawer for an occasional treat – but what an indulgence is that sweet oblivion. Sometimes we all need a little help from pharmaceutical science. Though, like you, I wish they’d invent the pill that could change the inner dialogue. Bon courage!

  46. catherine n March 31, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    I’m also feeling a little like this. I care, but I don’t. I don’t know how to get out of my own head, my own funk. I’m incredibly lucky in many ways, but it just feels like “meh” because it is just me. And my actions are just going to affect me. I don’t feel cute, I don’t feel desirable. Everyone else in the family is getting married and having kids. And I’m just stuck. There are things I need to do that I just can’t, it is too overwhelming. I’m tired of cooking for one, I’m tired of no social life, but every time I go back into the world it is just SO HARD. I’m tired of trying to date, at age 43. I’m so tired of being alone. I do want to just hide out and give up completely. Its not worth it. Nothing feels worth it. I’m tired of doing everything alone. But I don’t want to do family either. My mom keeps trying to get me to visit relatives, ugh, no. just no. Or she wants me to move to NYC or something, which ACK NO. I don’t have a reason for why I feel this way, or why I can’t do something constructive with my life! I just CAN”T. Sorry for dumping my own shit here. I can’t do sleeping pills. And antidepressants have never helped. I just don’t have anyone I can reach out to. I’ve been used too much over my life, and don’t feel I can trust anyone. I know I can bounce back eventually, and this will pass for you as well… But yeah, its damn hard, some days.

  47. saraspunza March 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Yeah, what you said. Sing it Sister, for the rest of us who suffer from the same malaise. I hear you loud and clear. I am with you on this one. I don’t know how it gets better wither, but I do have a sense that kicking ourselves is not helpful.
    Thank you for sharing this part of you and your experience with us. I feel less alone because if it and I bet others do too.

  48. Jetendra March 31, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    I am very happy to read your article. Thanks 🙂

  49. Honore March 31, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    I experienced similar feelings while I was taking care of my Mother as she battled cancer. I found it impossible to take care of myself. My biggest fantasy was being in a serious car crash so that others would have to take care of me and I could be “authentically” helpless. Then I would feel guilty for trying to wish pain on myself in an attempt to get out of caring for my Mom who was in tremendous pain.
    I’m leaving this comment because my Mom is in recovery now and it’s still hard for both her and me. The difference is now instead of feeling helpless and overwhelmed all the time, we only feel it maybe half the time. I’m sure to some people that doesn’t sound great, but when your dealing with illness I think any time spent feeling rested, loved, and silly should be celebrated. You’ll find moments to celebrate again.

  50. emietannam March 31, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    I’m reading you and thinking of you, wishing I could be supportive somehow.
    I don’t know you at all, but I want to thank you for continuing to write even though you feel like this, because I love your writing, and it makes my days better. I very much doubt you are a garbage person but I can say with full certainty that you are a terrific writer, and your writing calls out to people and gives them strength. Thanks also for writing such an honest post.

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