This used to be a blog dedicated to one of my interests, dream interpretation. I have decided to expand it to include thoughts about pretty much Everything.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Depression and Uncertainty

I've been thinking about the idea of uncertainty lately, and here's why.

I had a depressive-anxious episode last week.  It was probably largely influenced by hormones...it was that time of the month... (I haven't been good about drinking my red raspberry leaf tea lately, which usually helps me sail through PMS with hardly a problem.  So I'm getting that tea started again.)
But it was probably largely influenced, as well, by the stress of my life situation these days.  I don't know what's wrong with my health, why I suddenly got anemia out of nowhere.  My last paycheck arrives in a few days, and I don't know what my job will be after that, and I've been too tired to put more than a few hours here and there into efforts to find one. Thus, I don't know where the money to pay bills will come from.  And SRS wants me to know all these things, plus they suddenly told me I have to work 28 hours per week instead of 20 hours to continue being worthy of continuing to receive state assistance (even though I'm in school).  I have to make a decision about what Kindergarten to send my child to.  I dropped one of my summer courses, because it had so much work, I didn't think I would be able to keep up, since I'm not at full energy yet, and I have other courses to take.  But the university doesn't want to give me a refund--their refund window is only 1 week into the course, and I was 1 day too late with my drop request.
So I'm struggling mostly with questions of survival these days, to be honest.  And I am very uncertain about what to do, how to walk into the future.

When I write it out on (virtual) paper, it makes sense that I would feel depressed-anxious, though cognitively, these things haven't been what have gone through my head.  Anyone with depression-anxiety can probably attest to the fact that when you're having an episode, you aren't consciously thinking about your problems most of the time. Usually, there's just this lack of motivation, and a feeling of a heavy cloud around your brain. You can't really even think very well about anything.  That's how I felt for several days last week, (and am in the tail-end of it now).  It was really hard to go through with my daily duties. In fact, when I buckled down and forced myself to work on stuff, like research for a class, or whatever, my head literally, physically hurt from the effort.  So even though I had good incentives to take action on several things-- for example, if I asked my doctor to forward a note to the university vouching for me on the health issue, I might be approved to have my tuition reimbursed, which is around $1,000 for that class-- it took me several days to actually do them. In fact, I still have some phone calls to make that I am avoiding.

And that's what is frustrating and curious about depression.

During a time of stress, it seems like the most advantageous mechanism for the mind to employ would be a heightened awareness, an arousal level for dealing proactively with the situation, and clear sharp thinking.  But the opposite happens.  And for someone who highly values achievement and action, such as myself, it is very annoying to have my brain just shut itself off when I enter seasons of high uncertainty.

...At least, in my case, I am linking my depressive episodes with seasons of heightened uncertainty...  The reason I am making this personal link is because it seems to be a pattern.  (Though, there have been other factors that have kicked off depressive episodes too, like break-ups or giving birth.)

There was a season in life several years ago when I felt like I'd really beat my anxiety and depression, and that was when I went on a personal campaign to remind myself constantly that God had a plan for my life, a reason for me to be here, and things were going to work out OK eventually.  I said it often, I felt like I believed it, and tried to pound it into my own head (not literally, though!)  Connecting with that idea made me feel like the future was certain, even though it looked uncertain at the time.  That certainty boosted my mood and increased my confidence.  It didn't last too long, though.

I can't rely on that mantra anymore, unfortunately, because I know it is bull***. 

Theodicy is one thing when it's an abstraction, something to argue about in a theology class or read about in a book.  It's another thing when you have personally lived through "evil."  There is just no way to convince myself, rationally, that it is certain that God has a good plan for my life, and things will work out eventually.  As much as I want that to be true, there's no way to prove it, and in fact, my life situation so far hasn't pointed in that direction. Kind of odd, considering what a fan I am of astrology, but... that's the case.  Right now, I'm suspending judgement on the question of whether or not God has a good plan, (or whether or not God even exists, and if so, what that even means.) I simply won't commit to a decision either way.

All I can really fall back on these days is the foundational "I think, therefore, I am" concept.  I can't prove much, but I do think that there is an "I" who exists. That is something certain. Kind of an odd comfort, I know. It's not as helpful as the certainty offered by religious ideas of "God's plan," but it doesn't create a cognitive dissonance either.

And anyway, back to depression and such... the practical question I wonder now, is why does this happen? Why does my brain shut off when I think I need it the most?  Is it a "learned helplessness" response?  Very possible, since I've lived in poverty most of my life and have faced a lot of frustrations that haven't yielded to my efforts.  (But I won't give up, don't worry.  At least, I don't think I will.)  Is it a call from some metaphysical force, trying to get me to connect with and operate from intuition rather than cognition?  Is it ineffectiveness in dealing with my emotional responses, causing them to get "stuck" instead of flowing through me as they arise?

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