Just A Bad Mood Or Are You Coming Unglued?

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"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." ~Albert Camus

About ten years ago, I stopped sleeping. It started on a vacation. The first night in this lovely beach rental, I couldn't fall asleep and stayed wide awake all night. Of course I was a mess the next day, and the following night I was panicky that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep again.

This was the start of a spiral of insomnia, that led to anxiety about not sleeping, that led to total exhaustion, that led to strange physical symptoms, that caused more anxiety and worry. I had no idea what was wrong. I thought it might be hormones. I thought I was dying. I feared I might never feel normal again. I went to my internist, my gynecologist, and a sleep specialist.

Finally, someone said to me, "I think you might be depressed. You better do something before you come completely unglued." Completely unglued?! Depressed? I didn't feel depressed. I felt exhausted, achy, frightened and anxious. But I didn't feel sad. In fact, I wanted to feel better, to be happy and energetic. I was wired and tired, like I had an intravenous feeding tube serving me high test espressos 24-7. But depressed? No way.

The idea that depression would manifest as a constant feeling of fight or flight never occurred to me. I thought depression meant that you were sad, hopeless, lethargic, slept too much.  But I subsequently learned that depression and anxiety are fraternal twins, and they can waltz into your life wearing a myriad of costumes. If you don't know how to recognize the symptoms, you might come unglued before you know what's happening.

So how do you know if it's just temporary mood changes or a bad mood that will pass?

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