Am I depressed or just exhausted? Learning the difference. 

Just over two weeks ago I flew from Sydney to Paris, caught the fast train to Bordeaux and spent the next 12 days in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. After two more days whirling around Paris to see The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Musèe de Orsay, Notre Dame and the Gardens at The Versailles Cheateau (palace, actually!), I left Paris and flew back home to Australia. 


Just a portion of Saint Andres Cathedral in Bordeaux. Magnificent Gothic architecture inside and out. The bell tower in front is not located within the church because it resontes so strongly that it makes the church structure vibrate, causing potential damage to this centuries old place of worship. One of my fave spots on the trip. 


In the Louvre square. The whole building surrounding the fountain is the museum. It’s insanely huge! When we arrived, I just started to weep. I had no idea I would feel this way and it took me a good half hour of walking around the museum to let all my emotions out. 


The Eiffel Tower. Too big to get into the shot property! Took us 45 minutes to walk from The Louvre to see it but it was worth it. Monstrous structure and very imposing. 

My first favourite artist, Vincent Van Gogh. The Musėe de Orsay had a good dozen of his works and I just cried as I wandered around taking them all in. 


Notre Dame. Took over 800 years to complete and was begun in the mid 1100’s. We didn’t take picture inside as per the church’s request but the stained glass is breathtaking there. 


Just one panorama of the extensive Royal gardens in Versailles. We Walked down to the water fountain and back and it took us more than an hour. We didn’t even get close to seeing Marie Antoinettes Estate or inside the palace itself. Next time 😊

To call it a whirlwind tour would be accurate. It was a twofold trip. One, to spend time with my hubby who was working in Bordeaux for the soccer Euros, and two, to give our youngest son the experience of a lifetime, seeing fine to modern art with his own eyes and to inspire his own work. The trip was overall a success despite some personal challenges with panic attacks and some sleep issues that inevitably come with overseas travel. 

We’ve been home three days and I did think I would be feeling a bit better than I am. But I still feel groggy, down and tired. Although at 4 am this morning, I was bright as a button. And the night before it was 1 am until I was tired enough to go to sleep. 

Today I have binge watched tv, as I did yesterday and have been wondering if I am feeling depressed. But I’m not sure that’s the case, so I’ve done a bit of a diagnostic on myself. My body is exhausted. I put it through a great deal of pressure over a short period of time. 

Add to this between 13-20 kms walking a day, consistent exposure to visual and aural stimuli through art, architecture, food, music and nature and a special time with my son and hubby, I think it is fair to say that my energy, both physical and mental, are depleted. Significantly. 

I’ve never been brilliant at recovery time, and yet often still expect myself to be able to reengage quickly like others do. And when I don’t, I get flustered and down about it. These feelings can easily turn into sadness and then depression and I’ve started to worry about that today. 

But this is the thing: I don’t think I am getting depressed. I don’t have the same foggy blank brain feelings I get. I don’t feel sad or angry. I don’t feel any noticeable anxiety. 

So after some self analysis, I have determine that I am decompressing and not depressed. I may need more days like this. I may need the rest of the week. I don’t know yet. But I do know that I am okay with that. And I also know that this feels different to depression. My mind isn’t cloudy. My thoughts aren’t racing and I feel no anxiety. Just fatigue.

And it leads me to think that it just takes me longer to recover than it might take others. And recognising and accepting that this is part of my normal biological response to intense activity is integral to determining whether I just need a significant proportion of rest or if I need to implement my mental health plan strategies to reduce the onset of depression.  

My diagnostic, or self analysis strategy helps me to determine the difference between the need to decompress and rest, and having a depressive episode, and this is vital to developing my mental health and keeping my self care on track. This self analysis is really just a fancy way of saying I am practicing mindfulness – being intentionally aware of how my mind and body operate and what they are doing ‘in the moment’. 

I also believe that it is a key to not only improving my overall physical and mental health, but to reducing anxiety and manic episodes and managing energy supplies when depleted to decrease the resurgence of depressive episodes. 

It’s taken me years to work out how to analyse myself like this. I’ve gotten it wrong on a number of occasions and paid the price for expecting more from myself than is realistic for me. 

My suggested treatment for myself? Just run with it for now. Take one day at a time. If it continues longer than a few more days, dig deeper and maybe contact my psychologist to talk things through. I don’t believe in going things alone when it comes to mental health and they are able to pick up on signals that I miss, just because of their in depth training. 

I realise that not everyone can take the amount of time to recouperate as I can but I hope that at the very least, you’re able to schedule down time to do so while getting back into the swing of daily life. 

Being free to work through my personal needs is a privilege I don’t take lightly and is something I receive from a husband who often provides more for me than I think I deserve. Having this time is a gift, in and of itself, so my intention is to ensure I learn as much as I can about how my body and mind operate to improve outcomes in the future as well as encourage and maybe even help others in their journey too. 

My last thoughts for tonight are this: whether you’re travelling, working, have just come out from being physically unwell or have been experiencing current mental health issues, be kind to yourself. Don’t play down what you’re going through. It’s tough. Jet lag is tough for some of us who are seriously healthy, so jetlag for someone like me feels like I’ve stepped through the looking glass and am struggling to find my way back! 

Work on things one day at a time if you can, or one hour at a time if that’s all you’ve got. Reach out to a friend and let go of things that can wait. Leave the washing for another day. Forget about the dishes tonight. Nobody really cares if they don’t get done today. Or if they do care about them more than you, they’ve got some serious rethinking to do 🙂

Good night dear friends, 

Miriam 

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