Signs and symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Irritability, restlessness, anxiety
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, waking up during the night, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment*
I sleep a lot. I once described it to someone, that I sleep probably about 12 out of every 24 hours, and he goes, "So you sleep half of your life?" I had never thought of it that way, but he's absolutely right. I know that one of the reasons I sleep so much is that it's a major symptom of clinical depression, but it's also because I like being asleep. I always dream, and I always remember my dreams, and I can in all honesty say that I never ever feel the same way I feel in real life, in my dreams. There's no sense of this ever-present annoyance with each part of my life that isn't going the way I had hoped it would by now. In my dreams, I am living in the moment, I'm never worried about the future or the past. It never occurs to me that I haven't finished college yet, or that I'm nowhere near married or having kids. The only thing that seems to happen the way it really is, is that I dream very often about wanting to move into a new place. I dream most frequently about my two ex-boyfriends, Brian and Aaron. When I dream about Aaron, I dream that I'm frustrated with not being able to reach him via text or phone, and I often dream that I'm in Hawaii either looking for him or with him. When I dream about Brian, I dream that he and I are back together, and I've never been so happy, and I wake up feeling disappointed. I don't need to see a professional to analyze these dreams, I know exactly what they mean. Another dream I have just about every night, is that I'm driving someone else's car and I can't reach the brake pedal, or I can't find the brake pedal. I know what that means, too - that I am scared and frustrated by the fact that I can't stop time from passing, and can't control it.
Just thinking about it and writing about it makes me sort of wish I were asleep already. I get a sense of calm when I recall the dreams I have, as though the dream me is what I wish the real me were.
I spent most of today thinking about what I would write about tonight, and sleeping and dreaming was not even a consideration, earlier. I have so many thoughts swirling around in my brain that I can't even begin to organize them into a coherent order so that I can write about them. Sleeping and dreaming would be at the top of the list were I to ever make it, though.
When I live with my parents, I always feel massive amounts of guilt when I sleep. I think my parents have come to the conclusion that there's nothing that they can do to stop me from sleeping, ever. So my mom makes a big effort to make me feel as badly as possible about sleeping so much, in hopes that I'll stop doing it if I feel badly enough. To that I say HA! I'm lucky we're not Jewish, because then she might be able to guilt me into not sleeping as much. Something else my mom likes to tell me, as a backdoor guilt-trip, is anytime I complain that I'm having trouble sleeping - falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping very lightly - it's because I sleep too much, and that my body is saying it's had enough! I love this one. She used to prevent me from napping back in high school by telling me that if I napped, I wouldn't be able to fall asleep that night, and that always stuck with me. I think that might have been one of those things that parents tell their kids to get them to eat. She told my sisters and me that if we ate the crusts of our sandwiches and toast, we'd all have curly hair when we grew up! Obviously there is no correlation between genetics and eating the darker outsides of the slice of bread, which didn't really occur to me until about 18, and it didn't hit me til about 23 that other parents didn't say that same thing to their kids. What can I say, I'm extremely intelligent, though still blond.
There are definitely times that I have trouble sleeping. Those are nights when I can't shut my brain off, and I keep thinking and thinking and thinking. I'm beginning to find that if I can get myself to accept that there's nothing I can do right AT THAT MOMENT to solve or begin to solve any of the problems I'm ruminating on, I will eventually fall asleep. I like to fall asleep with the TV on, watching Friends or Scrubs or a movie that I love and don't mind watching over and over and over. I think that listening to something else helps to occupy my busy mind and I eventually get bored with whatever I'm watching and fall asleep. I love LOVE ambien, to the point where I worry about becoming addicted to it, so I try to avoid it if I can. I mostly use Tylenol PM or Advil PM or Unisom to help me fall asleep if I find that I can't do it on my own. I know a few people who use Nyquil, but Nyquil gives me this goofy feeling when I wake up that sticks with me most of the next day and I'm not okay with it unless I'm also hopped up on Dayquil or equivalent cold meds. Sometimes I'll have an alcoholic drink before bed because that helps quiet my brain and makes me sleepy. Lately my drink of choice has been a chocolate White Russian. You might be asking if that shouldn't be called a Black Russian, which I think it probably is, but I don't think that's politically correct. I think it should be called a Mulatto Russian.
*"NIMH · What Are the Basic Signs and Symptoms of Depression?" NIMH · Home. Web. 07 Oct. 2010. <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/women-and-depression-discovering-hope/what-are-the-basic-signs-and-symptoms-of-depression.shtml>.