And the good news is….

I remember distinctly a few months ago pulling out of a department store, crossing the road with the kids in the back seat and I realised I was feeling happy!

My first thought was “that’s novel. I like it. I actually feel happy”. It was fleeting – it lasted about a block until one child started bickering with another and my emotions fell back to earth. But it was great. Feeling happy was like finding an old friend again.

Over the last few months that feeling has become virtually the new norm. The listless, dull, low mood that was the tidemark has slowly and gradually been replaced.

In the leadup to Christmas we travelled across two states to the coast to join my sisters and their families. I came down with a virus which then morphed into an evil sinus infection and I spent four days in the motel bedroom without food. I dragged my sorry carcass off to the doctor and came away with some antiobiotics and came good on Xmas day, only to leave the seaside resort the next day. But there was good that came out of it. I didn’t slide back to the low mood. Emotionally I was able to maintain my good spirits. So it turns out that it was a good test.

My wife asked me what the reasons were for the turn around, but there aren’t any. I think it was just the slow trajectory of improvement and the final change from negative back to positive.

Even though I’m feeling a lot more contented and positive, I’m not my old me again. I never wanted to be my old self when I thought about recovery. Some things are not like they used to be.

I still have trouble making simple decisions. Yesterday I took the kids for a bike ride and couldn’t decide what to wear. It was warm enough but a cool breeze made me think I should wear something more than a T-Shirt. I couldn’t figure out what and went without and ended up feeling cold. I have trouble figuring out small change so it’s easier to just use a note and get change back than paying for things with loose change. The brain is just a bit fuzzy.

I’m not very ambitious. I don’t have great plans. It’s school holidays, but I don’t plan much. I’m not hoping to achieve much with the kids. We take each day as it comes. I don’t look ahead very far – that takes too much computing power.

I do things a lot slower. I drive slower, I walk slower, I talk slower. Part of it is because my brain works slower, but most of it because I just want to move through life slower. Going slower allows one to lower anxiety and experience more. If you haven’t done it before, google the slow movement. It’s fascinating.

I don’t try and exercise much control over others or situations. I used to be type A, so I used to be quite good at imposing myself, but I don’t bother now. I think I’m much more “live and let live”. Control takes a lot of energy and is largely ineffective anyway. I’ve realized I’m responsible for myself (and the kids because they’re dependents) but not for anyone else.

I haven’t allowed work to take over – partly because I’m only doing two days per week in the mental health support service. It doesn’t consume much of my thoughts when I’m away from work. I do think having the right kind and amount of work has been instrumental to getting well.

I was interviewed recently by a researcher from a leading university on depression. I told her than my brain function had dropped, but luckily I was a genius prior to burning out…. you had to be there.

Oh, by the way, the guy who invented the smiley face Harvey Ball, never trademarked it. He received $45 for it. Sucks to be him!