This was to be expected. Well, after a gap of ten weeks, here we are again. As apparently you are reading this right now, I can only say how happy I am that you didn’t give up on this blog too soon. You clearly know how it is with depressions!
You probably also know the ancient legend of the Phoenix bird: a mythical creature that was immortal and at the same time was not. Every 500 or 1000 years (stories differ about the interval) this beautiful gold-and-red-feathered bird felt death was near. It then built a nest from twigs and scented herbs such as myrrh, and laid itself to rest in the finished nest. When the bird no longer moved, the nest would suddenly burst into flames and burn like a pyre, reducing everything to ashes. But then from the remaining heap of smoldering ashes the very same Phoenix bird would magically rise again – reborn and ready to take wings for a next cycle of life.
The X-Men cover you see here refers of course to one of many recent versions of the same old Phoenix tale. And like many depression-prone people, at times like this I do indeed feel like a Phoenix bird or one of those X-Men, having risen from my own ashes once again. In this particular case, what probably helped me to survive was my decision – not an easy decision – to start using lithium again.
I am very much aware of the many disadvantages and unpleasant side effects of lithium, such as concentration loss, feeling bloated, occasional numbness. I felt those side effects acutely in the last few weeks. This is the price I chose to pay, at least for a while, for no longer being tossed around like a piece of driftwood on the violent waves of my unpredictable and dangerously depressed moods. In the past months I have been close to suicide a few times, and now I am beginning to feel just a little more safe again.
This does not mean that I now feel like a winner. With or without medication, victories of this kind always come at a cost. It’s not just that afterwards you suddenly feel the full weight of your exhaustion, like the Olympic sprinter who needs to grasp a railing after crossing the finish line. Maybe it’s even more like the cyclist in the Tour de France who falls, scrambles to get on his feet again, gets a replacement bike from his team, and manages to go on in pursuit of the others, with bleeding elbows and knees, bruises, a scratch on his brow.
This kind of victory leaves no laurels, but scars.
In my next post, I will go on from the point where I fell to the roadside. This is all about fighting: never mind the finish.
• tip: I know this is far from original but I want to say it nevertheless.
It’s the trip that matters. Not the destination.