I haven’t blogged for a while as I have had a major bout of depression and didn’t want it to be a distraction for my students (though I did record it in my research journal). But EMAs are done so it is time to talk about it.
I always have a bout of depression in February and have recorded about it previously in my blog. Like many people with bipolar disorder, I also get seasonal affective disorder and this usually means a couple of weeks when I am down followed by a seasonal burst of mania in March (mad March amongst manic depressives is a common phenomenon). But this year my depression hit the same week as war broke out in Ukraine and I already had a sort of post-pandemic malaise. Consequently, my depression was deeper than normal and accompanied by a severe worsening of my generalised anxiety, ranging from being convinced that my office floor would give way due to the heavy shelves, to an overwhelming fear of my sons being sent to war and our world being destroyed by imminent nuclear strikes. For the first time in over 20 years, I made contact with my GP to discuss my mental health. The GP clearly knew less than me about mental health and appropriate treatments (she spoke to a psychiatrist who recommended fluoxetine, which the GP didn’t know was Prozac. Prozac is not an appropriate medication for someone who has mania). I still haven’t got an appointment to see the psychiatrist. But I also contacted NHS psychological and wellbeing services who were quick to assess me for low grade CBT, which I will start next week.
My depression lasted nearly 3 months and has gradually improved over the last few weeks. During that time, I have kept up with a heavy marking load and teaching commitments but this has meant increased tiredness and my research has been a bit neglected, though obviously the practice part of my action research has continued. I had wanted to start data analysis in February but that was not possible with my mental state which continued into March and April, when I also had my methodology chapter assignment and NVivo training to do. April is, of course, an intensive marking month. So here I am in May, familiarising myself with my transcripts ready to start coding next week.
I have felt ‘normal’ for a couple of weeks now, though normal is a somewhat loose concept for a manic depressive.