For several years now (4-5-ish, but hard to pin down when it started), I have been stuck in a cycle of enervation/depression. I don't really like to use the word 'depression' to describe this,...
For several years now (4-5-ish, but hard to pin down when it started), I have been stuck in a cycle of enervation/depression. I don't really like to use the word 'depression' to describe this, because in my youth (I'm in my early 50s now), I suffered from serious bouts of extreme depression, and by comparison, this is a walk in the park ... so I've gotten into the habit of colloquially referring to is as "ennui".
The duration varies (a lot), but the cycle is most often roughly 7-14 days long, where 60-70% of the time, my energy, motivation, my ability to focus on and accomplish tasks ... all goes into the toilet, and I spend most of my day reading news, surfing the 'Net, playing video games, watching re-runs, walking about town with my dog, or even just sleeping. The other 30-40% of my time, I feel good -- clear-headed, focused, motivated and energized -- and I spend most of this time catching up on all the stuff I neglected during the ennui phase, and making Grand Plans for the future.
It is hard to tell, objectively, whether I am getting better, worse, or just treading water ... in part, because the cycle varies enough that it's hard to see any clear trends over anything less than 6-8 month time frame ... but more so because my ability to objectively assess my status is so colored by the cycle itself ... when I am in one of my ennui phases, it feels like I am getting worse or, at best, maintaining. When I am in the manic-ish phase, I feel like I will never feel unmotivated again, and I must often remind myself that it is temporary, and in another day or 3, I will be back in a funk. As objectively as I can be, however, I think I am actually treading water or, possibly, getting gradually worse at a very glacial pace.
I know the "up" phase of my cycle sounds a lot like the manic- part of a manic-depressive bipolar thing. Maybe it is; as I said, it is hard to be objective. That said, though, I am really, really confident that, prior to the beginning of this, ~5-ish years ago ... that "manic" phase was my normal state of mind. I used to be a very focused, productive individual.
So ... I've tried many different things to address this. Assorted doctor visits have mostly concluded that either they don't know what the problem is, and/or, I'm exaggerating/imagining it (no doctor has explicitly said this -- it is my interpretation of "we can't find anything wrong with you"). I've tried increased exercise, more time outdoors, more sleep, less sleep, meditation, a wide variety of changes in diet, vitamins/minerals/supplements, etc. I've lost over 40 lbs. I'm currently trying (for a 2nd time) large daily doses of turmeric, and contemplating trying (also for a 2nd time) a round of tDCS self-treatment.
For context, I am right now on an upswing, coming out of my latest "ennui" phase and feeling optimistic and productive.
I should also add that I have another issue ... one that I believe is unrelated, but sounds similar when I describe it. This dates back to about 15-16 years ago, and is another thing I have seen many doctors for, and tried various things to remedy. In a nutshell, about 15 years ago, I got dumber. Prior to that, my ability to learn and remember, my executive functions, my ability to deduce, my ability to focus and prioritize and plan ... were all much better.
Over the course of 12-18 months, I lost a lot of my mental functions. For anyone who has read it, it felt a lot like the tail-end of the book "Flowers For Algernon". The simplest quantifiable example I can give of this is the notion of ... how many things are on your mental shopping list (stuff you need to get at the grocery store) before you realize you better write it down? For me, prior to this loss, my magic "I'm gonna forget stuff if I don't write it down" number was around 12-13 items, that I could fairly confidently remember. Afterwards, that number dropped to around 3.
At that time, my doctor found a (benign) lump in my throat (a goiter), and ultimately, they removed half of my thyroid. After they removed it, over the course of 6-12 months, my mental faculties improved again, but I feel to this day, that they never returned to anything close to what they were before. My mental "shopping list" number today is around 5.
Multiple tests since then have repeatedly confirmed that my half-of-a-thyroid is fully getting the job done, and I do not need any kind of supplemental hormone treatment -- with the possible exception of testosterone (ps: I'm a guy), which I tried for a little while -- and dammit, it helped, too -- but then I freaked out and quit once I started reading about side-effects.
I am writing this explicitly looking for suggestions and advice. Keep in mind, though, that (I'm guessing here), 80-90% of my responses will be "already tried it, didn't help".
In advance, danke y gracias.