Hey readers—you may have noticed my news roundup didn’t go out on Saturday as promised. I’m very sorry about that.
This was due to a combination of incompetence and sickness; if you missed it, a couple weeks ago I explained how my frequent migraines might lead to situations like this. On Saturday I was just depressed; I spent a lot of the day asleep, felt upset when I was awake, and was afraid of and defeated by small tasks. I intended to send the newsletter out Sunday morning instead, but by the time I went to bed on Saturday night I had developed an awful pounding headache all over my head, neck, and shoulders. Despite 20 years of experience of this type of headache becoming a huge migraine, I went to bed without medicating it properly, thinking it would go away in the morning (??). It didn’t; I woke up at 6.30am with a full-blown migraine, the type where I take a horrible Migranal nasal spray and have to stay in bed for most of the day. I got through most of a season of The Great British Bake Off.
It’s hard to untangle the relationship between depression and migraines—does the depression cause the migraines, or are people just depressed because they have migraines and it fucks up their lives?—but they’re strongly associated, and many people experience mood changes and depression as part of the “prodrome” phase before the migraine happens. Depression is also often part of the “postdrome,” the phase after most of the pain has gone. It’s even harder to untangle when these symptoms coincide with menstruation, which is a guaranteed migraine trigger for me—is that PMS you’re feeling, or prodrome for a coming migraine?
Anyway, I am going to try and move past this bad weekend that made me feel like a total failure. I’ll try to send out more content than usual this week to make up for it. (I still have a headache, hence the hedging.)
Here’s a few good links that are on the top of my mind:
A story about vaccine prioritization and how it can be done right, by Natalie Shure in The Nation.
The emptiness of mental health ‘awareness’ campaigns in a society without adequate mental health care and where inequality truly does make life hard, by Alex Press, also in The Nation.
A doctor’s insurance company was charged $10,984 for a Covid-19 antibody test performed at the very chain he worked for, leading him to quit his job. The chain’s website lists the cost of the test as $75.
A thoughtful piece about “long Covid,” and poor media handling of the issue, by Dr. Adam Gaffney.
And, because I know it’s why some of you subscribed, a picture of Digby. She stayed in bed with me pretty much all day yesterday. She’s a good girl, although she might just think I was in her bed.
See you tomorrow for our regularly scheduled programming. And, once again, I am sorry.
Sorry to hear how heavy a load you carry. Hope all resolves and that you feel better ASAP. thought you might find this helpful if you haven't already seen it?
I was talking to a friend today who is struggling with feelings of depression and at one point in the conversation she said, "I know what I should be doing: focusing on my therapy, eating better, exercising..."
She expected me to say, "yeah, that's a good idea. What do you think might help you get there?" but instead I told her I actually didn't think so.
Because I realized in the moment that there is an important step we often skip between "being depressed" and "doing something about it."
That is: being depressed with acceptance.
In other words, I think there's roughly three stages - well, actually four:
1️⃣ Being depressed but not acknowledging it (this can be because we're high functioning so we don't realize it at first or because it's just hard to admit to for so many possible reasons)
2️⃣ Being depressed and acknowledging it but feeling guilty and/or ashamed about it, judging and/or blaming ourselves for it.
3️⃣ Being depressed but making space for it, holding it with some measure of compassion and understanding, validating that it's a normal part of being human in a world with so much suffering and hardship, and overall accepting ourselves as still worthy in spite of the darkness we are feeling.
4️⃣ Then...and only then...figuring out what might help us get through to some light and warmth.
I think we often try to skip Step #3 and jump from blaming/shaming/judging ourselves for being depressed to trying to make some tangible moves to ameliorate it.
But while it may work sometimes, I think being intentional about Step #3—which is difficult and takes it's own kind of work—can be really helpful 🤷♀️