There are times when I seem to be challenged with spells of very low moods. Times when most of my thoughts seem to be of fear and despair for a future that has not yet happened and a future that may never happen, except for in my thoughts.
At times I have some clue as to what causes these moods but at other times their arrival is unexpected and with no apparent explanation.
My usual response or approach to handling these moods is to start searching for a way out of the fog. I never have to search for long before I am presented with a smorgasbord of advice, suggestions, tips and endless how to’s. The problem for me however, is the fact that, while the advice is mostly very good (with some exceptions) sometimes I am so lost in that fog that what’s on offer has the opposite effect, at least for a while. I have come to understand and accept that during those times the only option is to simply ride out the storm until the fog lifts on its own without my trying to control or change anything. I understand this sounds like a defeatist attitude and perhaps it is, but when I am in that space being offered practical advice just doesn’t cut it.
I have also come to accept that my condition (however you choose to define it) is something I will have to live with. I know I could visit my doctor who will no doubt diagnose me with the label of mild depression or something equivalent but how is that going to change anything? Would that kind of diagnosis make it easier to cope with? Would medication keep the feelings at bay? Perhaps, but I am not a fan of medication, which in my view never solves the problem anyway, it merely numbs the symptoms as long as one keeps taking the medication. I prefer to find a way of accepting the feelings for what they are and learn how to live with them.
As mentioned earlier, I don’t always understand what triggers these feelings. Sometimes it can be as a result of tiredness and lack of sleep, at other times it can be a result of the food I eat or the amount of alcohol I drink. It could be a deficiency of certain brain chemicals or a combination of all of them or something entirely different.
I have tried herbal remedies such as St John’s Wort and 5-htp in the hope that it would help. In truth, I have no idea whether or not taking these helped or not. I had a problem with St John’s Wort in that the instructions were to take them three times a day with a meal. This was a problem as I rarely eat three times a day (which could be part of the problem) so I can’t really comment on whether or not it works as I never really tried it properly. A point worth remembering is the fact that I was looking for a quick fix! A magic pill that would take all the pain away! 5-htp had some effect on me. It enhanced my dreams quite dramatically (in a good way) and I found that I woke up feeling rested and refreshed more than I do now. I haven’t taken it for a few months now. As for reducing the spells of low mood, I didn’t experience any real noticeable effects. It may be worth trying again and actually journal how I feel in comparison to now.
However, even if it does work, it is still just numbing the symptoms and not actually getting to the root of the problem. At this point I have no idea what the root of the problem is. I have some ideas that relate to a lack of self love or self esteem but the ideas aren’t clear at the moment. I also keep thinking that I need to somehow go back and remember more about my childhood as this could contain clues. I had a very safe and caring upbringing and did not experience any traumas that could help explain how I feel. I don’t think that I have some deep buried memories of abuse that needs unravelling. On the other hand I do know that I never felt as loved as my younger brother. I often felt he was the son they really wanted and that I never lived up to their expectations. This is a feeling that has stayed with me all my life and something that is worth exploring further.
I am not coming from a point of blame although my favourite poem may suggest otherwise;
Philip Larkin – This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.