These beautiful mandalas come to us from Carmen in New York for the Mandalas for Marinke remembrance project. Enjoy the beauty and then scroll down for some depression awareness information.
The depression piece I want to discuss today is sleep and how it is so wound up with depression. Madeline Wilkerson wrote a piece for HuffPo called The Sleepless Cycle of Depression that is well worth a read; it certainly mirrors much of my own experience. She writes, in part:
“Sleep, I think, is not addressed enough in the context of mental illness. People talk about the emotional symptoms of mental illness, but often they ignore the physical symptoms, too – the fatigue, the lack of sleep, or the oversleeping. There were days when all I wanted to do was sleep, but I’d hit the bed and be unable to. It was torture. And yet, the doctors could not do anything for me.
Sleep helps the brain to restore and replenish. The more sleep I’ve been getting, the better I feel. And so I think it is important to emphasize the importance of sleep and sleep deprivation, especially among the mental illness community. Sleep can be a blessing, but it can also be scary for those that have struggled with it like me.”
Sleep has always been an issue for me, as long as I can remember. I need tons of it to feel even moderately “okay”. When I don’t get sleep, my depression comes more quickly and with more impact. And the rub is that I often can’t sleep well when depressed. I spent YEARS hating 3am, the time when I would inevitably awaken, too tired to do anything, mind racing too much to fall back asleep.
I have been lucky in the sense that for most of my life I’ve been able to create a working situation that allows me to wake up and sleep as needed, to nap as needed. Without that, I’m not sure what I would have done. I’m not sure what I would do even today. On busy days, when I’m too tired and can’t nap, I struggle to maintain a positive attitude, constantly having to remind myself that the negativity I’m feeling is just lack of sleep, it’s not “real”. Years and years of depression treatment and personal growth and this still happens.
Related recommended fun read that encourages being gentle with yourself about needing to nap: Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed: The Ultimate Nap Book by SARK.