I was talking to someone recently about my old friend depression, and was reminded of this post. Funny thing – when I went looking for it, I realized I’d written it at the end of February 2011. Something about this time of year…
While I’m happy to say I’m feeling tons better these days, my dark friend still has a way of whispering in my ear. Staying aware, and taking steps to shush her, helps keep me centered.
Depression sucks. It’s like this picture, but not as pretty –
After feeling like I’ve been in a deep freeze for the better (or worse) part of a year, I think I’m beginning to thaw…
I’ve learned very few people (myself included) understand depression. I’ve had very well-intentioned people tell me that I just need to snap out of it, that with all the blessings I have (great husband and amazing kids being the top two) I have no reason to be sad. Depression doesn’t just express itself in tears – I slid down the slope into the arms of my dark friend at the end of 2009, but didn’t recognize it until the spring of 2010 when my family gently suggested to me that maybe I should live somewhere by myself for a while, until I got in a better space in my head (and thankfully, that was enough of a wake-up call, so leaving wasn’t necessary).
At first, when my husband pointed out all the tell tale signs that I wasn’t myself (not showering for sometimes a week at a time; not noticing mess and clutter; falling behind on usual chores because I was *too tired* to deal with them; fobbing off making dinner on the eldest; having hubby stop by the grocery store on the way home from for “a few” things on a regular basis, because I couldn’t handle being around people that particular day), I scoffed and said that if I were depressed, why had I been able to get my book on the Ed Desk of Harper Collins, and almost single-handedly upload all the content to a local political information website? He said I was using those projects as excuses to hide from the family and from my feelings… and he was right.
I had some people question why it was then necessary for me to retreat from things that I once spent so much time on (Authonomy, social networks, book club, andmy writing group), saying my happiness was important too. While they were absolutely correct (which was something my husband and kids agreed with) when I find myself doing it to the extreme, and neglecting my family in the process, I know my depression has gotten the better of me.
In the year since, I’ve exchanged those obsessions for a somewhat healthier one – while getting my Draenei Pally on World of Warcraft to level 85 hasn’t necessarily helped the family, it’s been something I can distract myself with without shutting myself away. For example, I can farm for Fel Iron ore in Hellfire Peninsula while on the laptop in the living room, watching TV or hanging with the family. It’s also something the younger two and hubby had been asking me to join in with for the past few years, so now we can do dungeons and quests together. Plus, since I’m pretty good with the auction house, I’m keeping the family guild flush with gold.
For a while, I kept a journal, writing like a mad woman about my struggles, until I realized I was spending more time cataloging them than actually solving anything. After that, I stopped, and have barely written anything since (other than a brief attempt at NaNoWriMo 2010). My youngest said recently, “but you’re the writer in the family mommy” and I cringed. I still don’t feel worthy of calling myself a writer, but it gave me such hope that she was able to without hesitation. Nice to know some people in the world view me that way, even if I haven’t given myself permission yet.
I’ve been super busy in my head, coming up with to do lists, and goals and ambitions, writing emails to people and thinking about what to say during phone conversations. But I haven’t gotten to the point that all of that happens outside of my head. When I looked at my desk, piled high with papers and clutter, I wonder how that could be, given how many times I’ve organized it in my brain.
Today I sat at my messy desk, freezing as usual (stupid drafty apartment), and thought, “I should light a candle. Even though it’s not a great heat source, it will still *feel* warmer in the room.” Usually, I end up talking myself out of it – it’s been forever since I’ve even done the simplest candle ritual, and I feel like I don’t deserve to just jump back in if I haven’t prepared for it. I need to clean things first, and smudge, and vacuum the floor, and make the space sacred so that I honor my intentions in lighting the candle… and I get so bound up and overwhelmed by such a huge project that I end up simply shivering at my keyboard, promising myself that I’ll get an early start on it the next day.
Earlier, I had a discussion with my eldest, who hopes to make a name for herself on Youtube, about how she hadn’t posted new videos lately, and how her fan base would be disappointed. She said something to the effect of the videos hadn’t been coming out the way she’d hoped, so even though she had enough content, she didn’t post them because they weren’t good enough. Funny how kids can shine a mirror on things you’ve said without even realizing they’re doing it.
So, back to being at my desk – today I decided to stop stalling, picked up enough of the clutter to make a clean safe spot for a candle, and lit one up. There’s still dust everywhere, and I didn’t even bother to wipe down the clean spot, but the sight of that tiny flame warms my spirit to no end. And after telling my daughter that she’s over thinking things, and gave her all the reasons why she shouldn’t let that perfectionist penchant stop her from posting, I started working seriously on this entry. Hopefully her inspiration can inspire me to inspire her….or something like that. Baby steps are still forward momentum, right? Time to trade my frozen existence for passionate living…