I just finished reading my first journal. The one I wrote when I started into depression. It began at the end of March 2008, and went to mid-October. From my first appointment with my therapist, to the diagnosis of adjustment disorder, through my first panic attack, my subsequent climb out of depressive symptoms in the summer, and the beginning of my descent into full-blown Major Depressive Disorder.
I’m reading to refresh my memory of what I felt at my worst. I’m reading to see God’s faithfulness to me in my angst. I’m reading to discover my symptoms and how I behaved in my depressed state.
I had forgotten that my sleep schedule was all messed up. During the beginning of my experience, I repeatedly woke at 4:30 or 5:00am each morning. That is not me; I sleep until 7:30am most mornings. But I didn’t see that sleep disruption at the time – I just went with it. Looking back on it now, I recognize it as a classic symptom of depression – a change in sleep patterns.
I remembered that I used to drive to a boat landing to be alone with my loud music and the thoughts that made it past the beat-beat-beat in my earbuds. I didn’t realize that the pattern had started all the way back in the beginning; my memory told me that I didn’t develop that habit until I was severely clinically depressed. But my journal tells another story – I found respite at the water’s edge early on in my journey.
I learned in re-reading my journal that several of my distinct memories of depression actually occurred during that first stint – when I was diagnosed with “adjustment disorder with anxiety and depressive symptoms.” Many of the encounters that I read about were early-on, not much later in my experience, as I had previously thought. Funny how vivid those first memories are.
I’m glad I’ve waited until now to read through the journal. And I intend to read all of them from the first seven years of my depression – that’s 12.5 books of writing. But waiting was a good idea – I’m emotionally stable enough – mentally healthy enough – to go back to those memories without getting sucked into the emotion of them. I can handle them.