Communion Of Dreams

The difficulty of accomplishing anything.

One of the hallmarks of major depression is the energy-sucking nature of the disease. For someone in the throes of such a depression, it becomes almost impossible to even get out of bed, and regular correspondence, routine tasks, et cetera, all slide by the wayside, piling up and contributing to the downward spiral.

I suffer from a mild form of bipolar disorder – what is commonly called manic-depression. The arc of my mental state can be influenced by many things, but typically runs about 18 – 24 months through a full cycle. I have never suffered through a full major depression, but I’ve been down into it far enough to have glimpsed that hell, and know I want no part of it. I’ve learned to cope with my condition, and know full well that if I were ever to slip further I would want professional help to deal with it.

One thing I find in being a care-giver for someone with Alzheimer’s is that as my charge slips further into dementia herself, the toll that it takes on me and my wife comes increasingly to resemble suffering a major depression. Basically, with the prolonged lack of sleep and growing effort to help her comes an increasing difficulty in having the energy to accomplish anything else. Last week I read the new Harry Potter book, and the effort left me completely exhausted and suffering a prolonged migraine by the end of the week. If I can get the focus to spend a few hours at the bench doing book conservation in a given week it is a minor miracle. Just contacting clients or suppliers becomes a task I cannot confront. I’ve promised someone an article on Pat Bahn of TGV Rockets, which I really want to write, but finding the energy to do so is another matter altogether.

And yes, my own mental health is stressed by all of this. I am constantly at risk of falling into the trap that I should be doing more, should be stronger. That’s my image of myself. And when I put my mind to it, I really can accomplish some remarkable things. So the temptation is to push myself further, to goad more work out of myself, to criticize myself for being “weak” for not having the focus or the energy to do this or that. That is a dangerous path.

So, I do what I can, when I can, and try and cut myself some slack the rest of the time. And this afternoon, while my mother-in-law naps, I think I will can some tomatoes. There is more conservation work waiting for me, and other writing I should do. But the tomatoes are ripe and ready, and it will be a nice change from the other tasks.

Jim Downey

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[…] but typically runs about 18 – 24 months through a full cycle. … article continues at Communion of Dreams brought to you by Depression and Clinical […]

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[…] or exhaustion to the stress and demands of care-giving, but the fact remains that I do have a mild bipolar condition. I suspect that for a while things are just going to oscillate before reaching some kind of […]

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[…] as noted previously, my bipolar condition tends to run on an 18-to-24 month cycle, though that can be effected by […]

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