Ups and downs

If you read this blog more often, you might have noticed that it went silent in March 2019. I’ve taken breaks from blogging before, but no break was quite like this, and in this post I explain why.

Although I never wrote about it in detail, I also never made a secret out of the fact that I have been struggling with depression since my postdoc. I had therapy for some of the time and was in general managing things quite well – doing my job, blogging, doing sports, having a social life. The current me almost can’t believe I was able to do all those things. 

In the second half of 2018 things started getting worse. After my cat Buffy passed away in October 2018, I was at an extremely low point and finally decided therapy alone wouldn’t do. My GP prescribed me antidepressants and I started a period of sick leave (full-time at first, part-time later) to adjust.

The antidepressants seemed to be doing an amazing job – the start was slow, but then I started feeling better and better. I soon went back to working full-time, was getting a lot done and had a lot of fresh ideas. I realized I was probably depressed for longer than I thought, and that I was now returning to the “normal” me. This was exciting for me, but somewhat confusing for many people around me, many of whom had not known me that long. 

Eventually – around March – I started feeling a bit too good. The ideas were coming at me so fast I couldn’t keep up, and neither could people interacting with me. My partner recognized this as hypomania, and following a GP visit I was told to stop the antidepressants. The GP also gave me a referral to the psychiatrist, but I ended up on a waiting list. Meanwhile, I was getting more and more out of balance.

The grand finale was a psychotic episode, during which I was convinced that people I’ve never met were giving me clues I had to follow. To top it off, this happened while I was travelling alone. After a few days in a psychiatric facility in France, I was able to return home again, going back on sick leave full-time. The bright side of this episode is that I could see a psychiatrist immediately, who diagnosed me with bipolar disorder.

Now I am getting used to the new medication to stabilize my mood. Although the effects were noticeable straight away and I feel “normal” again, it has been difficult to go back to my regular life with work, blogging, sports, etc, feeling like an impostor in everything. I’m trying to accept that this is normal, and slowly building things up again. I am therefore not sure when the next post might be – but I’ll celebrate that this post is a win.

7 thoughts on “Ups and downs”

  1. It’s great to see you again in the blogosphere!

    One of the many things I really like about blogging, is that every single post contributes to the patiently developing whole. 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks! I think I often want to go back and delete/update posts that don’t “fit” anymore – from the viewpoint of a patiently developing whole perhaps that’s not done? ?

      Reply
  2. I’ve just come across your blog, and found many of your posts encouraging and helpful! I’m glad to hear you’re doing better, and hope this will be a good & steady year for you.

    Reply
  3. Hi Veronika,

    I’ve never looked at this way, but many things you describe I think I experienced in a somewhat lesser degree. I was wondering if you have any coping techniques you follow atm to make sure you stay on the right track? Or are there any things you can do to prevent getting back into a “bad” state? By how much you think what happened to you is related to doing research and/ or workload?

    Best,
    Jaap

    Reply
    • Not sure about strategies yet next to taking my medication and in general trying to have a structured day to day life. There was of course structure already, except when things were getting out of control. However I am not sure about the causality of it, since my episode was probably set off by the antidepressants. Same with research – I was not sleeping a lot and there were indeed deadlines during that time, but not sleeping is a symptom by itself, I never stay up to work at night.

      Reply
      • Oh having a structured life is probably a good idea. I have never been sure how you achieve that though. And yes I think having structured sleeping patterns is good too, but sometimes it is difficult.

        Reply

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