Over the past few weeks, my mood has been nothing but down, but it has taken on many forms. I’ve used this experience (oh, and it has given me time to think!) to contemplate the variety of types of down moods I’ve experienced over the years to try to get a better understanding of mood disorders in general.
I also like listing things.
Now, I’m one to sit quietly and brood over my mood—as my OCD wants to change it into a good mood by any means possible. While I don’t have the keys to that mechanism in my brain, I do often find myself replying to the question of how I feel, during these times, with a curt “not good.” But it is all much more than that. Here’s what I’ve come up with for myself.
1. OCD Episode (immediate)
I’ve detailed my immediate OCD Episodes on this site (example, example, example) in live form. These are immediate episodes where my OCD wants to attack a specific external event of some sort. It could be a stain on a shirt that I’ll try to wash out five times, it could be the horror of the lack of control I have over my surroundings (loud music or television being played by others.) My Pure-O OCD makes this extremely difficult as I don’t have coping compulsions at all. I want to not have these things happening, and I can’t get them to stop. What is really happening here is I cannot get my brain to stop obsessing over these external things to the point where I cannot move forward with life at all. Not being able to move forward is a down mood.
2. OCD Episode (longer-term)
My OCD can often manifest itself long-term as well. This differs from the immediate episodes that are about a single thing that I feel (irrationally) should stop right then and there. This is more existential, as I look at my life and see nothing but mess. This could be a physical mess, as well as a creative mess, mental mess, just any mess in general. I want to live in a tidy place mentally (and physically.) This is sometimes confused with stereotypes that someone with OCD, like me, needs everything in containers and labeled. Ok, that stereotype isn’t fully wrong, but it goes a heck of a lot deeper than the $50 and 5-hour investment that alludes to. No, this is still a mess I cannot control and something that hinders me from moving forward in life. I am a wiz at getting things in containers and labeling them. However, that doesn’t work with thought. And my thoughts of all of my existence are—at these times—messy and unable to be cleaned.
3. Pure Anxiety Fog
I lived in this state for years. This often contains the OCD episodes mentioned above, but is far longer-term, and involves far more anxiety than the above. The type of anxiety here is the problem: the roots of such are often unknown. I am living in pure fear and I do not know what I am afraid of. Now as I try to live my life, I am so on the edge of generalized anxiety that every action becomes a fight with every eventuality of said action. I fear everything in front of me, but most importantly I am living—every second—in fear of something I don’t know. Quite literally I am afraid, anxious about something that may or may not exist and certainly does not have any sort of name. It not only goes without saying what this does for my mood, but this is often—for me—experienced in up to years-long time periods. Sometimes months, sometimes years, sometimes I can get out of it (I don’t know how it just snaps) in days. This is hell. This has all of my mood and OCD disorders rolled up into one, and rolling along and growing.
This is a down mood that is quite odd, but something I have been experiencing more of. Maybe because my medication is taking care of some of the above mood disorders. This is somewhat the antithesis of the anxiety fog. But it is not a lack of anxiety. Rather, I wake up feeling like I don’t want to face the world. That is anxiety. That is generalized anxiety because it often has nothing to do with anything I am aware of. However, once I get my day going, my mood suddenly is rid of anxiety. Until the next morning when I try to wake up, and it is back again. This wave continues for weeks at a time. I am functional during these paradoxical anxiety episodes, but they are their own hell. Different. Longer-term. Still down, but in waves. The knowledge of how I will feel when I wake the next day weighs on me in terms of the consistent energy I need to be my fully productive self. Being a paradox, it goes without saying that I really can’t explain it. I’d like to say I’d rather have this than any of the above mood issues—but I’d rather not have this.
A generic term, “depression,” most likely means different things for different people. I don’t find myself depressed often. My brain’s issues are OCD and anxiety. Depression is different. I don’t like when depression is lumped in with mental disorders in general. Almost every mental health issue I’ve brought to doctors have—at the least—ended up with an anti-depressant prescription. Now, for me, I feel these medications work well with my other heavier-lifting medications for OCD and anxiety. However, there are times when my mood just bottoms out and I just don’t feel the acuteness of the above issues. Where it is just… down and nothing else. Luckily this is rare, but it is something I experience. Just not at all as often as the ones above this.
So that’s my list of down moods. I’m not always in a down mood, but because I have been lately a lot I felt it was at least calling me to focus just on the downers.
I suppose an article opposite to this is in order? Possibly. Unfortunately, with my OCD, I don’t trust my good moods. So, well, that I suppose is what they describe as “for another day.”