Juggling Balls & Depression

I’m spending a lot of time by myself at the moment, which gives me way too much time for my brain to go into overdrive. Partly because my worse physical symptoms mean I’m not able to do very much but also because my husband has had to work later. Usually I’d distract myself with activities in the house, but because I’ve lowered my baseline, I’ve been feeling pretty awful so haven’t managed to do as much. Except be stuck in my own head.

I recently got a diagnosis of depression. Mood and cortisol are directly linked so lowering my baseline has made that a million times worse. Taking steroids also makes you depressed so it’s kind of a lose lose situation. I can’t juggle all of the balls at once: physically I feel worse, new symptoms have appeared which I haven’t had before, older ones that had gone away have come back, I struggle to sleep, and mentally I feel a lot worse off as well. It’s too much to deal with at once and, like other depressed people find, it feels overwhelming to manage it all and I feel like I’m starting to drop some of the juggling balls.

The easiest way for me to get out of my head is to ‘do something’. This seems pretty straight forward because I like knitting, colouring, reading etc. But perfectionism is actually a trait of adrenal insufficiency which means that if I don’t do something ‘right’ or I can’t manage it, I beat myself up about it. And then the negative voices of depression kick in and tell me it’s because I’m useless, I fail at everything, what’s the point in even trying… This also seems to happen for normal every day activities at the moment e.g. Getting dressed. So I get myself into a mess and don’t know where to start with finding something to do. Decisions are stressful.

Another thing I could do when I get wound up is talk to a friend, either about the problem or something random. However, when I hit that point where I need a friend, my mind tells me how much of a burden to them I am and I decide I don’t want to burden someone else or bother them. So I distance myself and go quiet or avoid people so that I don’t ‘annoy’ them.

It’s also partly because I get anxious and stressed if I don’t hear back from people. So if I don’t contact anyone, I don’t have that stress. Rationally I know that when people don’t text back it’s because they’re busy, they forgot, they’ll ring me later, something came up… etc. But on bad days I nearly always decide that the reason they didn’t text me back is because they hate me, even if there’s no evidence at all to suggest that. The same goes if plans get cancelled or changed last minute. It’s absolutely ridiculous, I know, but it feels like trying to keep all my juggling balls in the air while someone’s trying to throw plates into the mix- I know I should focus on what’s literally at hand, but my brain goes off on a tangent. And because I’m constantly juggling, it’s pretty exhausting.

Plus I read too much into everything. 9 times out of 10 it’s purely coincidence or I’ve imagined it. But when I’m by myself I run things over and over-analyse everything. I have a tendency to forget all the positive things and focus on the one thing I might have done to annoy someone and try to work out how to ‘better myself’. I try to take the blame for things which aren’t my fault or things I only had a part to play in. Rationally I know that I don’t tell doctors what decisions to make, for example, but I always blame myself when things go wrong.

I’m pretty sure that my low mood lowers my cortisol and then my lack of cortisol makes my mood worse. But it’s hard to unravel. I know that lots of people with depression have similar thoughts to mine and are also trying to keep their juggling balls in the air! I do a few things to help: I have a folder of ‘happy’ photos on my phone, a star jar where I write things I’ve enjoyed down and add to look at, playing word games on my phone sometimes helps, and I regularly use my calm app and journal. Currently they’re not really working for me as well as they were, but I’ll keep trying! If anyone has any other strategies, let me know 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Juggling Balls & Depression

  1. Rhiannon says:

    Hey, love the idea of a star jar and “happy ” photo album for when you can’t quite get out of yourself. I know you may not be after yet another app but I’ve been using Pacifica for managing mood. It’s a pretty basic mood tracker, but it has a function called “thoughts” which I find really useful. You write all the negative thoughts that crowd your mind in a particular situation and then you have to identify in what way they are negative (e.g. overgeneralizing, “catastrophising”, ” mind-reading”) and then rewrite them to frame them less negatively.
    I’m not dealing with depression myself, only mild anxiety, but I found the thought reframing really helpful. Reading this post it looks like you are already noticing your negative thoughts, so maybe it would help to label them and reframe them.
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

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