For about a week every month, although it might be a fortnight and feels like a year, I hit a point where hormones and brain chemistry clash and the anti-depressants don’t quite do their job.
I always know, thankfully, because I can count contraceptive pills left in the pack, and the point at which I start feeling super-low is always when there are just five left.
Who’d be a woman?
That first day I am aware of the descending gloom. I start taking vitamin B supplements and eating fish and brazil nuts in an effort to stave off the dark cloud of ‘what’s the point?’
But by day two or three it’s easy to forget it’s chemical. Life has no meaning, just getting up and moving is a struggle. The sun can be beating down, like it is today, and I’m just hot and bothered. My world narrows and I feel like I’m stuffed with clouds of misery. I genuinely can see no point in going on. I have a copy of Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig but I haven’t read it, because the only time I remember I have it is when I’m so low reading it seems too much effort.
The What For? week is when I wish I had a job. I need to have to do something, because I have zero motivation. I can feed the kids and the guinea pigs and the husband and the dog. Dog gets walked too, albeit a fairly short ploddy amble. But that’s it. I spend the rest of the time asleep, because I have no drive to do anything else.
It sounds pathetic now I write it down. Such a white middle class privileged nonsense of depression. Who can’t find the motivation to mow the lawn or stack the dishwasher or hang out the laundry?
Even on a good week I struggle to get stuff done. I’m managing to get about an hour of writing planning and research done a day before I’ve (almost literally) lost the will to live.
I guess the problem with being a stay-at-home/self-employed/unemployed parent (whatever I am) is that everything is a choice. Sleep or paint the garden fences, sleep or vacuum the carpets, sleep or tidy the kitchen. Given that choice, how many would find it easier to choose sleep?
Anyway, it is only a week (or maybe a fortnight – it’s hard to tell when I start feeling better, it’s a bit like getting over a cold). And on the plus side I have started running again. When my legs can manage it I slot a run in between the bouts of sleep, so at least I feel like I did something vaguely productive, if only to my body.
And at least I have started planning a new novel. It’s taken a long long time to make that choice. It’s going slower than a hungover snail, and I don’t have much enthusiasm for writing any more, and I feel like everything I’ve ever written is complete pants, but in the back of my mind is still the hope I’ll pull something together that will make an agent not chuck it in the bin. One day.
In the meantime, I’m off to have some more vitamin B supplements and eat some salmon.
See you on the other side.