Cyclical Depression

I’ve written this blog post in my head dozens of times over the past four years. Once I stopped blogging every day I found it quite hard to commit to posting again even just occasionally. I still think about writing blogs all the time but clearly thinking about doing something isn’t quite the same as actually doing it.

I have certainly missed this daily brain exercise. Forcing myself to organize my thoughts and feelings into writing is something that no amount of rumination can replicate. There’s a type of clarity I enjoy about committing thoughts onto paper, even if that paper is digital. Plus, there’s something I enjoy about it being public. It’s a very freeing feeling to just release something into the wilds of the internet. This blog is the best diary I’ve ever kept and I’ve started 5 or 6 since I was old enough to think my ideas were worth writing down. Note that I say started, I never got more than 7 to 10 entries into a diary before abandoning it.

Which brings us to tonight’s topic, something I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about for many years – I get depressed, cyclically.

My general sense of wellbeing is very much like a rollercoaster, only it’s a really shitty rollercoaster that starts out exciting and full of energy. I can see for miles all around me. Aall the things I want to do, all the places I want to go, all the creative projects I want to start. Then very gradually, the cart slides down the slope a little more each day until we hit the ground but it doesn’t stop there, it continues below sea level into a dark place filled with negative thoughts where everything is terrible, I’m a failure, I should be doing something else with my life, you get the idea.

Then, after an extended period of time, I explode out of my depression filled with energy and zest for life. I start lots of projects, challenge myself to all sorts of lofty goals and assure myself that this feeling will last forever. In that moment, I believe that I’ve finally figured out the source of my problems – I just needed to transfer to another college or quit my job and start a business or close my business and start a new one. I’m not saying that I would change any of those decisions, I would make all of them again in a heartbeat. It’s just this pattern of thinking that there’s a single reason that I feel the way I do and it can all be solved once I figure out my perfect career path. If I only create the perfect job for myself, I will be happy forever. Or at the very least I won’t get depressed anymore. Easy peasy.

The wild thing about it is while I’m in both my mania and my depression, it feels like that state is going to last forever. It’s only now that I’m 36 that I realize that they are part of a larger pattern, they’re only temporary. And like every other thing in existence, it too shall pass. No matter how much I wish I was the energetic lust for life guy all the time, I’m a surly quiet guy more days of the year than I’d like to admit.

This is by no means to say that I’m Manic Depressive. I don’t know enough about it to say whether I am or not, nor have I ever been diagnosed as such. I’ve been in therapy for a while now and it’s never been suggested so I feel like that would’ve come up by now. I’ve just reached a new level of understanding about myself and the patterns I keep reliving throughout my adult life.

I have found that daily meditation has helped me quite a bit. Even just 10 minutes a day has really made it easier to step outside of my automatic behaviors. This blog used to be a great way for me to reflect and put my feelings into words but that only works if I actually sit down to write so I think I will start doing this more regularly.

I don’t have a solid way to wrap this up with a bow because I haven’t figured out how to get comfortable with this whole new concept of myself yet. When I do, I’ll let you know.

Until then, I’ll just keep riding the shitty rollercoaster. I do think it’s a bit different now seeing the ride for what it is.