Friday, 10 May 2013

Triggers and solutions?

I've said before that I was diagnosed with depression two years into my PhD studies (2006). Since then, I would have to say I've made a huge recovery. I've gone from not functioning on any level, to functioning on a 'normal' level for about 3 days a week. Right now, I probably wouldn't describe myself as even having depression.

However, I still have 'down' days. For a long time, they would take me by surprise; why is it I could feel ok and functioning at one point, and then, a few hours or few days later, feel completely depressed, and wish to hide away? Why would this happen every few days? Would I ever be able to hold down a full-time job? Or would it always be like this? Up for a few days, down for a few days, never stable, never consistent.

Recently, I've started to make some un-scientific observations: 
my negative thinking patterns get worse when I feel tired... 
Or could it be that having negative thoughts/feelings make me tired?

Not sure what the solution is. 
I've tried doing less (went to part-time registration for the PhD), but then felt useless for not achieving much, or taking so long. 
I've recently tried doing much more (taking on additional volunteering, study and tutoring), to give negative thoughts less air-time, but then have to crash at some point, and feel useless on the days that follow instead. Committing to lots of things makes me more edgy and restless: I worry more about delivering perfection, and I sleep badly because I'm worrying.

Two things that seem to help: 
1) I'm living in the moment a bit more (not always easy), and appreciating simple things like a cup of tea and chocolate biscuits... Today that's my favourite thing.
2) I'm doing more things which play to my strengths which helps. Just for the record, writing a thesis is not one of them. 

Any thoughts?


  1. If you don't mind me asking, are you a woman? I'm also oscillating in my depressed days like this, up and down and up and down every few days and I've noticed that this corresponds extremelly well with my hormonal cycles, in particular with times around ovulation and PMS days. Not something any GP or medical professional that I told this to takes seriously, but after months of observations I'm fairly confident that there is a correlation about certain times in the cycle (and certain levels of hormones) and my problematic days.

    1. Hi Anonymous, yes, I am a woman. And yes, I've observed a correlation... but sometimes quite a weak one. I've done some googling in the past and came up with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). However, my mood can be worse after my period has ended, and other months, doesn't even correlate to any potential hormonal fluctuations (just there all the time). My partner and I, refer to my moods being hormone led, if they are around a week before my period has started. (Funnily enough, this doesn't seem condescending any more...)

      My experience of PMS, is that it seems to get worse, when I go through a stressful period. The episode of depression I had in 2006 (mild to moderate) seems to have exacerbated the symptoms somewhat (a bit like have a wound that's still healing - it's still prone to bleed a bit).

      I wouldn't attribute all my down days to hormonal cycles though, but I would agree that they are the cause of some them. And I haven't been brave enough to mention my thoughts to a doctor, for fear of being seen as a hypochondriac/wasting time. That side of things is manageable at the moment anyway... I would seek help, if it started becoming unmanageable.


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