As bleak as this one may read, I've written it out of frustration, not because I'm giving up. Tomorrow's another day.
"Those long, long days of no escaping."
-- If Only, Queens of the Stone Age
I have been alive for 15,597 days.
If I had to guess how many of those days I have been completely symptom free, it would be a very small number.
There have been hours I have been symptom free.
But never a day.
I can honestly never remember a day when I woke up, made it through the day and went to bed without experiencing at least one symptom.
Each and every day I experience at least some negative self-talk, low self-esteem, low energy, feelings of guilt, hopelessness and despair, anxiety or depression.
Sometimes a combination of these, sometimes all of them.
Contrary to what many may think about depression and anxiety, they do not start and stop like a cold or a broken limb.
They are always there, sometimes raging through mind and body, sometimes fading into the background so as to be almost silent and invisible.
Tonight has been a difficult night because of the frustration I am feeling knowing I will never be cured, never made whole.
I started thinking about this after hearing former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk on the radio this week. For those who don't know, he played most of his career in the 1980s and came within a hair of dying on the ice during a game when a skate cut his throat.
Quick action by the training staff saved his life that night. However, he ended up becoming seriously mentally ill, attempting suicide later on.
He has just released a book on his career and subsequent mental illness.
During the interview he repeatedly spoke about how there is no cure for his condition and that he has experienced serious relapses.
I'm not fond of using the term relapse because it implies the person is symptom-free before becoming ill again.
That's never been my experience. For my entire adult life -- and as far back as I can remember of my childhood -- I don't think I've had a symptom-free day.
Each and every day I experience some aspect of my illness, some days more strongly than others.
Today, for example, was the first time since Sept. 7 I've run 10K. Rather than be happy with my result, I immediately started to beat myself up for going so long between 10K runs (never-minding that I've done three 100K bike rides and several short runs in that time).
This leads me to thinking things like, "Big deal. So you ran 10K. How about getting a job? How's that going?"
That leads me to thinking about how I haven't been in an office for three years and the fear I'll break down under the pressure of a new job.
And all of this happens in less time than it took you to read about it.
So then I have to start the process of positive self-talk to try to redirect my thoughts.
I wish just one day my brain would work like it should.
Just one day.
I've tried everything -- medication, one-on-one therapy, group therapy, in-patient treatment, out-patient treatment, cognitive behaviour therapy, dialectic behaviour therapy, endurance training. Just about everything short of electroshock therapy.
Most days I feel like Sisyphus, rolling that rock to the top of the hill only to watch it roll back again.
So what keeps me pushing it up that hill day after day?
A good book, a long run, a snowstorm, a day by the water.