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When Even Showering Is Just Too Hard

This past weekend I was at a conference where I won "Volunteer of the Year," the most coveted award for that particular organization. I was in such a good mood. I had a great weekend.

That was 5 days ago, and it has been days since I've showered. I went to bed at 6:30 p.m. last night (woke up at 6 a.m.), and I’m pretty sure I'm not going to leave the house today, unless forced.

Depression can sneak up on you

Depression can be like that sometimes. It sneaks through the backdoor when you're not looking and takes a hold when you’re vulnerable. And I was. I'll admit, it's my fault.

When I traveled to the conference, I made a mistake with my pillbox, leaving one pill out for about 5 days. When I noticed, I thought I'd get a little cranky, maybe a little weepy. But I didn't expect to get weepy, sleep 12 hours a night, and avoid the shower for days on end. I should be stronger than that, right?

Too depressed to do anything

I mean, I've been in recovery for 4 years. I can't be taken down by a little pill after a few days of not having it. Surely not. But here I am, asking a friend to take my place at support group tonight because I can't get out of my chair. Or shower. Or leave the house.

I'm making jokes, but this is actually scary. I've been doing so well since I left the psychiatric hospital, since I’ve had all those electroconvulsive therapy treatments. I work on my recovery every day. Some days harder than others. And this just blindsided me.

Leaning into "Low Battery Mode"

But I know what to do. I call it "Low Battery Mode Heather." I start to take things off my plate. I move meetings and replace them with self-care time. I put off errands that aren't a priority. I ask for help from my family and friends, which is hard, but I have to do it.

I take naps if I need to. I go to bed early when I can. I evaluate whether I need a round of Ketamine. I make lists of things to look forward to. I do whatever I need to do to feel joy, and if I can’t find joy, then rest.

Depressive episodes

I know it will get better. I must say that to myself, but the truth is that many people with major depressive disorder are at substantial risk of later recurrence, according to a study in the National Library of Medicine.

It's a 60 percent lifetime risk of recurrence after the first major depressive episode and 70 percent of those with 2 episodes have recurrences throughout life. Ninety percent of those with 3 or more episodes will experience further recurrent episodes.1

Now, I'm not sure how many episodes I've had. I know I've had at least 1, probably 2, but only a couple were very apparent. I've seen so many doctors and had so many diagnoses, so who knows? I'm sticking to what the doctors in the psych hospital said from now on.

Sunny or a chance of showers?

I don't expect to have a good day every day, although I've had so many good ones, I almost do expect them. That’s why it's hard to deal with days like these. But it's temporary. The sun will come out tomorrow, right?

I can't just hide in my house spitting out facts how another major depressive episode might happen.It could, but while I'm worried about that I could miss the sunshine out there.

And I don't want to take the sun for granted ever again.

Maybe I'll make it to the shower today after all. But if I don't, that's okay, too.

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