Yesterday I took a small road trip with my son out to visit my parents. It’s about a two hour drive each way and this is the first time I felt that I had sufficient stamina and concentration to manage it since my breakdown in June. The countryside is beautiful but the journey did not really offer me more than time to sit and fret behind the steering wheel. I thought about how I used to need a road map to navigate the back highways when my 86 year-old father’s ongoing retreat from civilization first drew them out there a few years back. I no longer need a map and know the route well.
I could, however, use a personal map or trail of bread crumbs to follow back to make sense of the past year or two of my life. A mood disorder can wreak havoc on one’s internal compass. In the hazy debris of an extended period of hypomanic energy sliding into manic, I am finding it impossible to make sense of where I was or where I go from here.
At a deeper, more fundamental sense I have lost faith in myself. Or rather my ability to make sense of my self.
It is likely that this is the affect of depression. It’s hard for me to know because I have rarely ever experienced the sort of black dog depression that many others describe. I tend toward anxiety and a bone weariness that weighs me down, but I do not crawl into bed and pull the covers up. I don’t sleep well, in fact I tend to insomnia. But I don’t recall experiencing the all pervasive lack of physical energy that haunts me now. I find it hard to remember how I ever managed to accomplish all of the projects, personal and professional, that I tackled during the many years of relative stability I experienced over the past ten to fifteen years.
At the moment, the fact that’s really eating away at me is that the last impression I left at work was of a manager who was increasingly high strung and finally quite stressed and obnoxiously concerned that he alone had the skills and perspective to resolve the challenges facing the agency. The manic Mr Hyde side. But how long was he showing his face? And now that I am living with a shy, anxious shadow of my Dr Jekyll self (assuming I even have one) I wish I had GPS system of some kind to help me retrace my steps.
A good therapist would help, and I do have one, but at $180/hour I won’t be seeing her much and if I am going to spend that much I would rather wait until I have figured out where I have been so she can help me figure out where I go from here.
Or maybe it’s better to accept what cannot be changed and look forward instead…
2 thoughts on “Draw me a map to my self”
I love the clouds in that photo. And I think you’re brave to look back. Hope you can try asking your therapist exactly what you’ve asked in this post (and report back, I’m curious).
I wonder if part of the 12 step programme applies:
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
(I’ve been wondering it gently for some months.)
Your words about your internal compass and loss of faith are hauntingly accurate for me too. I’m guessing you are one of those people who has a tough time processing, because you are hard on yourself, but that once you’ve processed the stuff it stays processed, because you looked clearly and didn’t make excuses.
I want you to feel better.
There are various depression diagnosis tools online, but idk how useful they are.
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Thanks for your thoughts. Making amends is complicated. I have apologized for my behaviour to those I worked with, but of course no one will respond or speak to me. I was not in my right mind or able to control the intensity or agitation. It is only as I have slowed down that I have been able to appreciate how intense I was, by which time apologies sound hollow to all of those who do not understand mental illness. In the end I am the one who will pay the price career wise and it was the job that pushed me into that state.
The core of my real sense of feeling lost is wondering how much mild hypomania made me successful at the job in the first place. After my first mania I had time to ease myself into the workplace and I had other financial resources (and much less debt). I had the kids to focus on and my transition. By this point my job was a huge source of self worth but I am not sure that I can return to anything like that … or if I want to.
It’s a loss and an opportunity to remake myself. Or to just crawl into a hole and hide. That’s why I would like to have that road map to follow but I realize the future is not knowable and looking back just enhances guilt and shame.