Today and tomorrow I’m on sick leave, staying home with a sinus infection. The timing is inconvenient and at first I still meant to go because I have two mandatory classes today with only a limited number of “allowed absences” (2 – 3 times), which naturally I don’t want to use up that early in the semester already. But ultimately I felt like crap and I also am going on a palaeontology excursion on Saturday, about which I’ll have to write a report and thus earn my first grade in geosciences, so I figured it was even more important to be in a proper shape for that.
Perhaps my sad mood earlier this week already foreshadowed the sickness, maybe I got sick because I was stressed out – there’s no way of knowing. Fact is that even though my throat is sore and my nose stuffed, I feel a lot better right now, with two full days of free time at my disposal. I’ve been conversing with my therapist via email since Tuesday and he reminded me of strategies we had figured out for maintaining a healthy balance: admittedly, without even noticing I had neglected some important points, like making sure that I did enough recreational activities. If nothing else, this relapse was a warning that even though I’ve been free of depressive symptoms for a few months now, I’m still walking on thin ice and that only a relatively short period of stress can throw me right back.
Back in February, I had come down with influenza (the real one, not what people commonly call the flu). It lasted for five weeks and was quite possibly the sickest I have ever been. My boyfriend was my saviour during that time, getting up at night for fetching me something to drink or preparing a hot water bottle, because I was too weak to get up. Night after night high fever alternated with cold shivers, I could not breathe properly because my entire respiratory system was “blocked” and sleep was only possible when sitting up… my boyfriend would afterwards confess to lying awake, worrying I might stop breathing. To make a long story short, it was utterly horrible and made me get flu shots as soon as the vaccination was available this autumn.
The recovery took a long time; only by the end of May I had returned to the pre-flu physical state. During all this time, I had already been in therapy and my therapist had expressed worries more than once and strictly ordered me to not do any kind of physical exercise for at least six weeks after recovering (he became a therapist via the medical route) because it might possibly damage my heart.
The reason why I mention this is because my therapist had highlighted before that mentally, I am in a similar state as my body was when recovering from the influenza: doing better, but still weak. I have had chronic depression for 18 years, with the latest episode being especially severe and lasting almost a year and a half. I cannot expect to have the same capacities as a person who never experienced depression, not nearly, and it will be a long while until I get there.
And now I really need to go (back) to bed. 😉