Daily Archives: May 21, 2002

Dysthymia

Someone told me there was a name for this last summer. It’s taken me this long to look it up.

Dysthymia (aka Dysthemia (sp)): Chronic low-level (of lesser intensity) depressive episodes.

American Description:

A) Depressed mood for most of the day, for more days than not, as indicated either by subjective account or observation by others, for at least 2 years. Note: In children and adolescents, mood can be irritable and duration must be at least 1 year.

B) Presence, while depressed, of two (or more) of the following: poor appetite or overeating; insomnia or hypersomnia; low energy or fatigue; low self-esteem: poor concentration or difficulty making decisions; feelings of hopelessness.

C) During the 2-year period (1 year for children or adolescents) of the disturbance, the person has never been without the symptoms in Criteria A and B for more than 2 months at a time.

European Description:

A chronic depression of mood which does not currently fulfil the criteria for recurrent depressive disorder, mild or moderate severity, in terms of either severity or duration of individual episodes, although the criteria for mild depressive episode may have been fulfilled in the past, particularly at the onset of the disorder. (Ed. note: Well, gosh, that makes me feel better already!)

The balance between individual phases of mild depression and intervening periods of comparative normality is very variable. Sufferers usually have periods of days or weeks when they describe themselves as well, but most of the time (often for months at a time) they feel tired and depressed; everything is an effort and nothing is enjoyed. They brood and complain, sleep badly and feel inadequate, but are usually able to cope with the basic demands of everyday life. Dysthymia therefore has much in common with the concepts of depressive neurosis and neurotic depression. If required, age of onset may be specified as early (in late teenage or the twenties) or late.

Me again. Now, I’m not the kind to dash off and self-diagnose. My osteopath has already told me that there are plenty of nice people out there who can help me with my mental and emotional balance just like she’s helping me with my back. (Speaking of which, I’m spending most of today lying on the living room floor working on the laptop because sitting at the desktop is too painful. Back pain is not helping general moodliness.) I’ve just been brushed off by my GP so often now that I don’t know where to go next, really. A close friend worked with an excellent therapist a couple of years ago and has her name and contact info, but as usual, their time requires money.

Or maybe I don’t need to go that route at all. Maybe all I need is a month or so off, and see if that lets my mind unkink a bit. Perhaps life’s tossing me about in an effort to get me to stop for a while and re-evaluate things. I need to rediscover what’s important. What I like, what I dislike. What’s fun, what’s not fun. Having no opinion for so long, just doing things because it’s on my list of things to do, means I really have nothing to compare my current life with any more.

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My horoscope for the day:

There is a powerful, abrasive force that is urging you to act, dear Cancer. You will find that someone may be working counter to your aims, and rubbing you the wrong way. Don’t let people outwit you. You have just as much right to express your opinion as anyone else. Use the power of your mind to come out on top of any situation. Freedom is a state of mind. Do something that makes you want to dance.”

Not much makes me want to dance these days. Focusing on the near future, I just have to get through the next three days until the weekend, where I play Star Wars, go to a costume party (and exactly *when* am I going to finish the last 75% of my costume?), see Episode 2, and possibly Fellowship of the Ring again.

If it would just get a little warmer and if the sun came out, it would make dealing with all the overwhelming crap so much easier…

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Life never gets any easier.

Why is it that just when things start to go wrong again, everything caves in? I’m now stuck between a rock and a hard place that even rockier and harder than before, right when I’m feeling more fragile than I’ve felt in a couple of months. Every once in a while, I really feel like someone else is captaining the ship of my life, and not only do I have no say in how she’s handled, I’m chained in the hold and can’t even see where we are.

No doubt, years from now, I’ll look back and say wisely, “Ah, yes, the evolution was clear; from point A to point Q there is a definite shift in states of consciousness and the methods of interfacing with reality.” Right now, though, I’m back to feeling panicky, constantly nauseous, and wildly grabbing for any sort of solid achor to cling to.

I feel tossed around, as if there truly is no land anywhere. I feel like the cosmos has a gigantic secret plan and I’m currently the bug heading for that plan’s windshield. What does the world want from me? What’s my thread in that colossal tapestry? What am I, a billiard ball? A superball? A croquet ball that gets whacked with mallets and other balls? A tennis ball, being chewed by the neighbour’s dog?

No the all-at-sea metaphor works better. You get the added bonus of sea-sickness with the forty-foot waves.