Friday, 4 July 2008

Bad Days and Worse Days

Like anyone who suffers from depression, my life isn't always a bowl of cherries. I don't have good days and bad days, rather it's bad days and worse days, but every now and again something happens that lifts my spirits and I feel as though life is worth living after all. And the strange thing is, it can be very little things that make the difference.

I've been going through a really bad period just recently, and while I'm not out of the woods yet, I am managing to hang on in there and I am aware that this feeling won't go on forever. Trying to find things to do that allow me to keep my mind active, but that don't require too high a degree of concentration is always a bit of a problem, and when I can get back to studying is always an indicator that things are improving. And I am just getting to that stage at the moment. After a couple of weeks where I have been wanting to write an essay for the TMA for the Open University course that I am doing at the moment, but have been totally incapable of doing anything about it, I am finally feeling as though I can have a go and hopefully write something of which I can be reasonably proud.

I first started studying with the Open University just over a year after my husband died. His death was very sudden, and somewhat unsurprisingly I started to suffer from depression. A year after my husband died I had to go into hospital for major surgery, and it was about this time that two very important people in my life, my GP, and a very old friend and work colleague, both suggested that I ought to find something to fill the empty hours in my life. Now I'm not sure what these two splendid chaps had in mind (probably flower arranging or learning a language perhaps) when they made their suggestions (they both spoke to me within a couple of days of each other) but doing a degree with the Open University was not quite what they envisaged. For some reason while I was lying in my hospital bed it seemed to me that this was the most obvious thing in the world.

The OU proved to be a lifesaver for me. I had a demanding job with a lot of responsibility and having something that I could turn to for a change of pace helped me to get through the empty evenings. Forcing myself to get into a routine of coming home from work, quickly getting myself an evening meal, and then sitting down for a couple of hours with the books became a way of life, and one that I shall never regret. Sometimes the completion of the TMAs (tutor marked assignments) was a problem and I had to ask for a deferment of the submission date from my tutor, but I usually managed to complete them on time. At about the time that I completed my BSc (Hons) I had to give up work on medical grounds as my depression had got much worse, I was suffering increasingly from severe anxiety attacks, and I had lost all confidence in my ability to do anything and everything.

So you can probably understand why I am so concerned that now that I am not working I am having so much of a problem answering a reasonably simple question in approximately 1000 words including references (no chance of me being accused of plagiarism). Writing detailed reports of a technical nature was what I did when I was working, and being acknowledged as having a good command of the English Language, both orally and in writing, I seem to be making a mountain out of a molehill over this particular TMA. And what makes it all the more strange is that this is one of the OU's Openings courses, the simplest that they do, and I have previously done some studying at Master's level and got good marks for it.

So, as I said earlier, after a month or so of feeling absolutely desperate and having very little sleep, I am starting to feel a little more human again, and actually keen to get back to the essay writing and the book reading. So tomorrow is going to be a day of sitting in a comfortable chair (I think better that way) with pad and pencil and hopefully enough of my previous reading will still be in my memory and the essay will flow onto the page. After all these years I still like to sit down with a pad to write my first draft because I find that it suits me; I also find that I can write at the same speed that I think whereas I can type faster than my brain seems to put the words together.

And what has allowed me to turn the corner? I managed to have a full night's sleep. Yes, a full eight hours. No problems dropping off, no waking after a couple of hours sleep and then being unable to get back to sleep.

To paraphrase a song, "What a difference a night makes".

No comments: