My worries mentioned in the last post were not signalling an approaching depression, they were a symptom of an already manifest depression coupled with anxiety. It’s more anxiety, really, than depression.
I realized what it really is more or less by accident. I was walking through the grocery store with my wife looking for something and I by chance saw a box of valerian. I’ve used valerian in the past, and once in a while I take it just because I have really cool dreams when I take it. I grabbed it because I hadn’t been sleeping very soundly for a while. I took one that night, and I noticed that the next day I was more relaxed than usual. It really surprised me, because valerian has not had that effect on me in the past. I’ve used it only for sleep and to have weird dreams. I’ve been using it regularly since then, and it really does help.
The funny thing is, I’ve never really thought of what I have as anxiety. Even though I’ve gone through periods in my life when I literally could not leave my house because of the thought that someone might see me. Even though I constantly (!) worry that someone is going to criticize me, even when I know I’ve done nothing wrong. When I have actually done something wrong (which is not often at all) it’s a hundred times worse.
The best I can do now is to quote a previous blog entry
as to the origins of all this:
I grew up in a family where the only time people talked to me was to tell me shut up and go away, or to humiliate and demean me. This is not an exaggeration. I was totally isolated socially both at home and in school. I learned to trust no one, not even those who meant me well, because as I was growing up there was no one who meant me well.
The problem is that anxiety has been such a part of my life for so long that I have no idea what an anxiety free life is like, and it’s hard for me recognize gradations, hard to see when it’s getting worse, until I start making mistakes. I can’t recognize that it’s getting worse just by looking at how I feel.