The Face of Depression & Insomnia

Daily Prompt: Study via The Daily Post

IMG_0588Study this pic. Not a pretty sight, is it? I took this selfie at 4:52 this morning, over an hour after I woke up and couldn’t sleep again. I even practiced good sleep hygiene by taking my meds and going to bed around 10:30 PM, so I slept for about 5 hours. To anyone who has suffered from insomnia, that number may be plenty. Recently, when I experienced hypomanic symptoms triggered by my light box, I slept for 5 hours total the entire weekend. (Hypo)mania does that to you, but according to the Mayo Clinic, so does depression, which I associate with the opposite — sleeping a lot.

I’ve felt depressed ever since I’ve “come down” from my short hypomanic episode — even more than I was before my psychiatrist suggested I use the light box. It’s been so bad that I haven’t had the energy to shower in a week. That sounds disgusting, I know, but lethargy is not uncommon for people who are depressed. I changed clothes, though. Most days. Anyway, I only had to go out twice.

This morning, I couldn’t stand it anymore, but still couldn’t manage to get in the shower, what to me amounts to a monumental task right now, so my husband washed my hair in the sink. I at least found the energy to wash my privates. This blog is mainly about my experiences with bipolar, so I’m not hiding anything — the good, the bad, or the ugly. This is how it is for me.

I haven’t eaten breakfast in about 2 weeks. It seems like a waste of time, even though I know it isn’t. I almost always have yogurt, and lately, tearing the foil lid off the cup and mixing the fruit into the yogurt compartment is too much work. Is it any wonder that I can’t take a shower?

This past week, I contacted my psychiatrist about my mood, and asked about trying light therapy again. I noted that my husband didn’t think I should use the box at all because of the hypomania. The doctor agreed with him. However, I said that I’d prefer to elevate my mood without any dosage changes, so we compromised: if I still felt $hitty on Monday, I’d use the light box again, but only for 30 minutes a day, in the morning. So I started again today.

What I have managed to do is maintain my meditation practice. According to my meditation app, I’ve meditated for 290 consecutive days as of today. Go, me! I’ve also been writing daily, for both my blog and my fiction writing. I didn’t write for an entire year in 2016 because of depression. That was before I started blogging, something that  has helped me write regularly, even when I feel like $hit. So there are some good things happening, in spite of the depression.

Have you ever experienced insomnia? What was it like?

Do you lack energy when going through a depression?

What is “coming down” from (hypo)mania like for you?

RIP Dolores O’Riordan

Photo provided by author

Walking the “Bad” Dog 

img_0463-2First you should know that my husband works from home most days. He’s also the one who walks our dog, and sometimes I tag along. Sometimes, I even hold the leash, with my husband following closely behind. But since I haven’t left the house alone in months, I haven’t walked the dog by myself, either.

Anyway, a few hours after I posted Low-Grade Agoraphobia, my husband said he needed to walk Rudy. Instead, I went out and walked him by myself! It was a spontaneous decision; I didn’t waffle like, “Should I or shouldn’t I? I know I should, but I don’t know if I can. What if something happens?” If I had done that, I probably wouldn’t have ended up walking him. That spontaneity certainly spurred me on.

I decided we’d go around the block instead of to the park, to start. Our place is surrounded by quiet side streets where foot traffic is pretty low, unlike on the major avenues nearby. If I did run into anyone, I wouldn’t have to thread my way through a slew of pedestrians.

When we walked out of our gate, there were two guys talking on the corner, and of course they both had dogs. There was a kid who looked to be about 6 or 7, too. I recognized one of the men, who is the neighbor dog’s walker. And of course Rudy can’t stand this dog, who lives on the third floor. Whenever his people walk past our door with him, Rudy runs to the door and starts barking.

Instead of turning around and walking in the opposite direction, we walked towards them, which is our usual route. (My husband and I learned at a leash reactivity seminar not to avoid potentially unpleasant situations, but to use them as teaching moments. Basically.) And of course Rudy barked and lunged at Third Floor Dog. I tried to keep him focused on me, which was a challenge, but I managed to get him around the corner and past the dogs. Then, behind my back, I heard one of the guys say, “Bad dog,” under his breath, but not at us, so maybe he was talking to the child. I don’t know if he was referring to Rudy, who’s great with kids, but I felt insulted. We walked away.

Everything went smoothly after that, except for the anxiety attack I nearly had when we were only two doors from home. My breathing became rapid and my heart was racing. Somehow, I managed to “keep my eye on the prize,” that being our gate, and we made it. I talked this over with my therapist, but couldn’t figure out what triggered the attack. I still don’t know.

The next day, I waffled about whether I should walk Rudy alone. I did it, and I did it yesterday (weekends are for family walks). I hope to continue walking Rudy like I used to. Besides, he doesn’t bark at every dog he meets and even has doggy friends in the neighborhood. The only other problem I’d have to deal with is his love of chasing squirrels! I know I can handle that.

Photo (taken on an occasion that my husband walked Rudy) by author’s husband

Low-Grade Agoraphobia


I recently came across the term, “low-grade agoraphobia” in a novel I just read. I’ve never been diagnosed with agoraphobia, and I know self-diagnosing isn’t a smart thing to do, but I’m going to do it anyway. I believe I have something like this, but it probably stems from anxiety, which I have been diagnosed with.

To make a long story short, I had a depressive episode last spring that I call the Rx Allergy Med Episode, which I’ll write about in my next post. Since then, I’ve been afraid to leave the house by myself, even to toss the bag of litter box waste into the dumpster next to our building. It’s literally like, twenty steps away. I also haven’t walked the dog by myself in months. I’m okay to go to the lobby to check the mail, but that’s it.

However, I can go out and be just fine if I’m with somebody, usually my husband. I’ve gone out one time without him since the Rx Allergy Med Episode, and that involved a friend coming to pick me up.

The weird thing is, if my husband drops me off someplace familiar, like the hair salon, I can walk by myself to meet him at whatever coffee shop where he’s waiting for me. I have no explanations for this. I don’t know why I can do this easily; I just can.

The other weird thing is that I went through this exact same “low-grade agoraphobia” around this time last year, according to something I posted that appeared on Facebook’s On This Day feature. I was able to push through the fear back then, and even took the ‘L’ alone, which I hadn’t done in years, to go to a Meetup that I’d never been to. That was HUGE!

As you can imagine, this limitation is completely annoying. So I started reading a book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, PhD. I hope it helps. But to be perfectly honest, for the past 2 or 3 weeks, I haven’t wanted to leave the house. At. All.

Photo credit: torne (where's my lens cap?) via VisualHunt /  CC BY