Nup, not peddally things… I’m thinking now of cycles within life. Life is full of them: from time cycles, the progression of the seasons, weeks, months, days.. routines, and the monthly womanly cycle – just to name a few. But its not so much these I’m thinking of as the cycle that is quite personal to me – the one i watch like a hawk for. The beginning of a depressive cycle.

I know the warning signs. I start to feel down. I don’t want to do anything. Nothing seems interesting, all the colours of life are muted – and i don’t mean that literally. I feel lethargic, i can’t be bothered to do anything. I feel tired a lot, sleep for longer and longer each night. I don’t want to blog, take photographs, anything. for anything i have to do, its always.. “oh.. i’ll do it tomorrow”. It progresses. Things start to slide, and i get to the end of the day and realise i’ve done none of the things i wanted to do. At first i care.. but eventually, i stop caring. I stop making my “to do” lists. I sit on the sofa and stare out of the window and nothing, absolutely nothing, gets done. That’s when i hit rock bottom.

I never used to think  i had depression. I’d read the list of symptoms and it never seemed to fit me.. until one day when i stumbled across the wikipedia entry for atypical depression. It was like a lightbulb flicking on above my head. Although i’ve not been medically diagnosed as such (the medical profession’s answer for depression seems to be anti-depressants and i will NOT go down that path) i do firmly believe that this is what i struggle with – and recognising, too, that its cyclical in nature, has been a big realisation for me too, and since then i’ve watched, carefully, for anything that could be the start of a downwards cycle. Its far far easier to fight it at the top of the cycle, before the depression has you firmly in its grip, than it is to fight it from the bottom of the cycle, and half the time, that awareness that you’re slipping down is half the battle.

The last few days.. well.. the last week or so, has been difficult. I’ve stopped blogging so regularly, the PADs have stopped. Its not even that i’ve got nothing to blog, cos i have – I’ve got some photos from the day i took loads in Manchester, and photos from yesterday’s work in the garden. Sign number one right there. After working in the garden yesterday, i slumped onto the sofa to watch time team, and apart from doing dinner, i didn’t really move from the sofa for the rest of the night, even though the film i was watching was kind of depressing in mood, and not what i really fancied watching right then (“Proof“). I could’ve put a DVD in, but i couldn’t be bothered. Sign number two.

I’ve been sleeping a lot more. This might strike some as being a bit OCD, but i write down in my notebook the times i went to bed, and the time i got up. And how many hours sleep i had. This is invaluable when it comes to keeping an eye on things like the depressive cycle. As an example, when i was working on the garden just about every day a couple of weeks ago, when we had that lovely clear week, i was getting about 7 hours of sleep a night. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, but the average was about 7 hours sleep. The last week my average has been 8 hours. Not a great deal of difference – until you consider that last night i was asleep by 1.30am… and didn’t get up till 10.30am this morning. That’s 9 hours of sleep.. which would’ve been okay, (I could’ve just been very tired, or not had much sleep the night before) but for the fact that i got 8.5 hours the night before. I’m also having strange dreams – I woke up this morning having had one where i was a freedom fighter, when i woke up, i was attending dinner in our main bunker, a formal dinner, with the leader of the other side, who had poisoned the sorbet he had brought with him for pudding, a cucumber-lime sorbet (yes, i know), making all the others at the table fall asleep, but i didn’t eat it cos i didn’t fancy it – and when i realised i had to fight him. I woke up from the fight (which i was winning, just in case you wanted to know). Wieeeeeeerd. Anyway. Sign number three.

And lastly, sign number four, last night i also had a powerful urge to comfort eat. if it hadn’t been 11pm i probably would’ve gone to get chocolate. Which is probably PMT (I’m due tomorrow), and also, i think, why i’m picking up on this. The whole thing may just be PMT, but it may also be a double whammy.

Either way… I’m alert to it now, and i’ve got to battle through it. In a minute i’m going to go and work in the garden – the sides of bed 1 are looking a bit dodgy and wonky and could do with being redug and sorted out – despite the fact that its cold and overcast and not a very nice day. Gardening and being outside works wonders for me, especially when i’m heading downwards. I’ve got to make bread too, and go to the shop later to get some spuds for dinner. I think when i’m there i’m going to get some chocolate, as a reward for having worked through it, and because.. well.. PMT… chocolate.. they go together, yes? And i’m going to keep writing. I’m going to beat this thing.