I haven't done much of anything for KyleCast in about 6 months, maybe more.
A good friend told me that I should update my blog, if nothing else. He was right. So I dug up my old email and password and logged in to my abandoned website. I went back and read my blog. Reading my own thoughts from months and years ago is strange and oddly trippy. My younger selves, the people responsible for writing those posts, are almost strangers to me now. All of my selves and I share one thing in common, though: we're all whiny bitches.
- I received Unemployment benefits from March to October of 2016. I consider those months easily some of the happiest of my life. If you can ever go on Unemployment, I highly recommend it.
- Unemployment ended and "reality" hit me. I began worrying about money again.
- I started doing freelance writing jobs on Upwork.com. Although I was pessimistic at first, I quickly found work and began freelancing full-time.
- My mood dropped as the weather got colder and I worked longer hours. I gradually discontinued all of my good habits. My life consisted of working, sleeping excessively, and not much else.
OK, hardcore complaining time.
I'm probably mentally ill. I fell into a deep depression from August of 2016 and I'm only feeling a bit better right now. During the lowest lows of this winter, I started asking myself if I ever really understood depression. Well, looking back over my previous blog posts, it's clear that I did. It's amazing how easy it is to forget.
Memory is state dependent. When we feel good, we remember all the times we felt good. When we feel bad, we can only remember the times we felt bad.
When I feel good, I have a tendency to congratulate myself for coming out of depressions. I like to attribute my newfound good mood to my habits and actions. One time, I thought I beat depression with exercise. Another time, I thought I beat it by dating successfully. Last year, I was absolutely convinced that meditation was a cure for depression.
In August 2016, I was in the best shape of my life. I couldn't have asked for a better dating life. I was meditating 2-3 times a day. And I still fell. And I fell hard.
So what's wrong with me?
I still don't know. My best guess is that a psychiatrist would diagnose me with Bipolar II, which consists of long depressive episodes and briefer stints of hypomania, which are periods of unusually elevated mood. A friend of mine and the best source of info I have on this disorder is Dr. D L Shaw. Doug appeared on an episode of my podcast last year.
But I'm not a psychiatrist. So why haven't I seen one? Avoidance of treatment is actually quite common for people with Bipolar. During the depressive episodes, they lack energy and courage to seek help. During the brighter times, they don't want help because they feel so good.
I actually did begin to seek help about a month ago. I was unable to get out of bed for the majority of each day. I could still work (from home), but I couldn't really do anything else. So I paid for health insurance and called therapists and psychiatrists near me.
Dialing each number was a trial and speaking with each receptionist was a tribulation. One after another, they told me they couldn't help me. My insurance wasn't accepted at some and the rest had no available appointments. Defeated and depleted, I gave up and waited for my depression to lift on its own.
Eventually, it started to. Like a bear waking from hibernation, I'm climbing out from a cave. An expert on depression, Andrew Solomon, wrote, “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.” This idea is important to understand what depression does to the mind. It's not that I feel happier now. It's that I'm now starting to have the energy, the vitality, the LIFE and desire to do things.
So what will I do? I'll save that for my next blog post, which will contain much less misery. I promise.