There’s nothing like a holiday. For me, the anticipation starts building months in advance, really kicking into gear a few weeks before I actually depart. During periods of stress, the planned departure date is there to daydream about – acting almost like a “finishing line” I push myself to reach.
Then there’s the holiday itself: days filled with swimming, BBQs and nature walks melting into one another, time to spend with family and friends – and (in my case) plenty of time to read a few good books.
But holidays can’t last forever and so, last month I found myself walking back into my workplace. After greeting my colleagues, and clearing away the clutter left from 2014, I sat staring at the computer screen. Normally one to enjoy my work, I had to force myself to turn on the computer and start answering emails.
Days later, my apathy still hadn’t lifted. My husband assured me that experiencing post-holiday blues was quite normal, but I couldn’t help feeling like a shadow had come over me.
In the weeks that followed, my mood continued to plummet. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but some of the joy seemed to have gone out of life. The thought of having to summon the energy to get through another year, seemed beyond me. Things that I could usually cope with triggered anxiety attacks.
Unspoken between my hubby and I was the thought that I might be entering another depressive episode. Neither of us had a desire to return to that dark place. And so we told ourselves that everything would be better after another short break – this time a week camping in a national park a couple of hours away.
Unlike our last holiday, when I had everything packed a week in advance, this time I left it to my poor hubby to get everything organised. On the morning of our departure, I dragged myself into the car and we started our journey.
As the kilometres passed, the weight that had been hanging over me seemed to lift. I listened to the kids’ chatter in the back seat and looked out at the road stretching before us. I felt like I was running away from everything that had been worrying me – which was exactly what I felt like doing.
By the time we got there, I had a smile on my face again. Every time a negative thought crept into my head, I pushed it away – telling myself I would deal with it after the holiday. I was desperately trying to recreate the “mountain top” experience of our last holiday.
And it worked. At least until I returned home and real life started up again.
As the weeks passed – and my anxiety kept building – I had to admit that I need more than just another holiday to alleviate my low mood. As a mum I can’t afford to not get help when I need it.
And so I went to see my psychiatrist – and walked away clutching a new prescription to help even things out. Now, I’m waiting for them to kick in.
The me I see in the mirror today is a far cry from the carefree me from a few months ago. But I guess that, having Bipolar Disorder, these tough times are part of the package. Along with the “mountain top” experiences, there’s going to be valleys of despair.
But when I’m struggling to follow others’ advice and “look on the bright side”, one thing I can do is look back at times like family holidays and realise that life does get better. And there’s plenty to look forward to.
PS. Is anyone else struggling with anxiety or depression at the moment? What do you do to help cope during down times? I’m sure all us mums would love to hear your advice.
8 thoughts on “From beach to “blah””
Stay strong Mariska . I find some cbt or tackling problematic ways of thinking can help.xxxoo
Thanks Mel… I agree that challenging some of the anxious thoughts I’ve been having is helpful. I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist – especially at work – and can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself. As mums, we can be way harder on ourselves than we ever would be on our children. If it was one of my kids struggling with anxiety, I would reassure them that no matter what happened, it would all turn out ok in the end. Seems I need to be telling myself the same thing a bit more! Mariska xx
Thank you so much, Mariska, for your honesty in yet another excellent blog post. It’s really refreshing to read, and it’s why I always want to read your posts right away.
However, I’m so sorry you’re going through a tough time & believe me (I know you will!!!) I understand!
Good for you for making that phone call to your doctor, and recognizing you needed to take care of yourself. You asked about us – if we are suffering with anxiety and/or depression and what helps us. At the moment I’m dealing with social and generalized anxiety.
I’ve kept a depressive episode at bay with daily (yes, daily) exercise, per the guidelines of Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan who “prescribes” exercise to his patients with mood disorders and who has observed impressed results. It’s *not* easy to work out daily, & I couldn’t do it without the help of my husband, but I take it very, very seriously based on listening to the doctor’s webinar and reading his blog.
Below are the links leading to Dr. Alsuwaidan’s specifics. Read Dr. Alsuwaidan’s brief post – it only takes a few minutes. Then, I strongly encourage you to listen to his International Society of Bipolar Disorders webinar; the second half is the most convincing. I know it’s a pain to do it,but you can fold laundry etc. while you listen! :))) I’ve referred other friends to this webinar and they’ve told me it has helped them profoundly!
His blog article explains his “dosing” suggestions for exercise for bipolar disorder.
Dr. Alsuwaidan considers exercise (per his guidelines, i.e. 30 min.day & vigorous, i.e. you can’t have a conversation while doing it) to be THE missing link to achieve recovery/reduce depression for bipolar apart from meds – he even calls exercise a “panacea”. Please read his post & if you have time for his webinar, even better; his advice is different than the standard exercise advice that you hear all the time! I believe that the 2nd half of the webinar is the most important & convincing part…
Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan with the International Society for Bipolar Disorder Webinar Exercise Treatment for Mood Disorders – A Neurobiological Rationale:
take care and you’ll be in my thoughts!!!
Thanks so much for this suggestion Dyane – I really appreciate the time and effort you put into your response. I’m about to click on your link and read his post. I remember you writing something about this on your blog a while ago, so when I felt my mood starting to plummet I started trying to do a walk/run most mornings for 20 minutes before work. Despite feeling down, I felt a bit better after exercising. Now that my medication’s starting to kick in, I’m going to keep up the exercise – because I believe it’s good for relieving stress AND I’ll need it to avoid gaining weight with the higher dose of medication Thanks again! Mariska xx
Sweet M, I always wrote novella comments on your blog, but I don’t do that much anywhere else, ha ha!
Your writing INSPIRES me! It’s a compliment to you! 🙂
I’m SO glad your med is kicking in!
I guess the most important thing that I neglected to make clear in my epic comment is that it’s the long-term cumulative effect that matters. When doing “Dr. Alsuwaidan”-type exercise for our mood disorders, even if we don’t feel great post-workouts (for a while) justkeep your eye on the prize! 🙂 That will shift. He noticed that with his patients, and called it a “light switch” effect. He discusses that more in the 2nd half of his webinar, which is the juicy part.
Lastly, I’m super-impressed you did those work-outs before going to work – that’s not easy!
You are AMAZING!
p.s. sorry for all the typos! :0 🙂
Praying for the valleys to grow into mountain tops for you Mariska xoxo Just one day at a time is enough – always here for you too………….xoxo di
Thanks so much Di… I really appreciate all your encouragement. Your words of wisdom last Sunday helped me get through the week. xx