Recognizing Signs of Relapse
By Rick Qualls
Winter is a bummer for me. I dislike the cold, snow, gray shortened days.
But most of all I hate sliding into my winter depressive cycle. For years the darkness of bi-polar depression struck with fury, from November through February.
This year my depression has been mild. I even enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time in many years. A slight adjustment in my medication, exercise, reduced stress, and meditation helped level my mood.
But over the last few weeks I have noticed “early warning signs” of a dip in my mood. Here were some of my “early warning signs”.
First, I realized I was blankly staring into space. My mind was empty. I have been doing that recently with increasing frequency. From past experience this is one of my behaviors of the onset of depressive episode.
Another sign I have noticed is that I “sigh” more than usual, as though I don’t have the energy to get up from a chair. It was irritating my wife, who thought the sighs were because I didn’t want to help her. We talked about it and realized is one of my behavioral signs of my mood dropping.
I have had a persistent sadness over the last week, without reason. This slight dip in mood is like a “check engine” light on my car. It is time find out what is going on.
Prayer and Bible reading are not giving me satisfaction or enjoyment. This is unusual and is another sign to check.
Brain fog has settled in on occasion. I have had some times of troubling confusion.
I have learned over the years these are all precursors to a depressive episode.
What to do? I have had an uptick in my medicines that is a mood stabilizer. I purchased and used a sunlamp for light therapy.
My psychiatrist recently retired and so I am searching for someone to do med checks. I have visited with a counselor who has screened me for a new psychiatrist.
I have begun listening to gospel music which positively impacts my mood and spirit.
Why share my story? For two important reasons. First, we need to be able to recognize our unique that are precursors to a mood change. And then we need to have a plan in place to manage any relapse.
Relapse is an ugly word. But it does happen.
But there is one greater than our circumstances.
“Therefore, we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalms 46:2)
The psalmist describes his world falling apart. All that has provided stability for him is gone. The mountains and seas, his very foundation is disappearing.
There is a reality beyond what we see. Depression shrinks our world. It turns us inward isolating us from others. Peace of mind shatters. Our thinking processes are confused. And convinces us that lies are truth, and truth are lies. Our world becomes a lonely place.
But the psalmist chooses to Look up!
David worships. In his state of depression he worships when it seems impossible.
It doesn’t matter how shattered his world, David places his confidence in God the Creator, of heaven and earth, and who will create all things new.
He has faith greater than his circumstances.
David has a place to go when his world has lost its moorings. God is his shelter and refuge.