I’m still madly in love with my planning journal. The problem I’m having during the days of depression is that I feel a constant stream of shame over how fitfully unproductive I am. I look back on all those beautiful pages of ass-kicking and I can’t help but feel like a loser. Self-competition is the easiest form of competition to justify, and the hardest to stop. “I should be able to do everything I did yesterday and more, because I improve every day!”
If you’ve ever wondered what depression feels like, or if you need someone to relate to…
The words aren’t coming. I know I want to write, but I feel dry. I’m far from bored. I’m not tired. I’m just stuck. Typing with my eyes closed helps. Like feeling the words instead of picturing them. It probably helps to not be able to read and re-read and edit and second-guess everything you think of, especially on a first draft. That’s what they always say, but how can you possibly do that if you can see all the words you write? It’s natural to want to revise and refine your own thoughts. But it does get in the way of the goal; which is to communicate.
Paralyzed. I don’t know how else to describe the days I’ve spent this past week after declaring my plans to branch out with my own business. It feels like failure before I’ve even begun! I know exactly what steps I need to take, and I haven’t even leaned in those directions. Every reason I have is an excuse… and they’re all full of fear.
This post is literally a month in the making, so please bear with the random turns it takes…
My dad paid good money awhile back for a series of audio recordings and a workbook to help someone setup a blog. The problem with his plan was that he never listened to the recordings or went through the workbook.
At the end of my four-day Thanksgiving vacation, mentally well-armed with having washed, dried, folded, and put away every article of dirty clothing in the house, I cracked the workbook.
Wednesday night I browsed my computer to dust off my resume. It’s not the first time in the last five years. Apparently I’ve updated that resume three or four times, but nothing has ever come of it, except maybe a raise when I mentioned that I had other options. But I’m sick of coercion. It isn’t satisfying to get what you want by holding someone’s feet to the fire. And I’m probably stupid to think they would come back offering more later. They never intended to offer me what I have now, so they’re certainly never going to offer me more.
In the past five days I have yelled at both my kids, had a sobbing fight with my husband, reamed one of my best friends for her behavior toward one of her family members, got into one major and several smaller arguments with my manager, nearly took the head off one of my vendors at work, threatened to terminate every vendor working on my portfolio, sent an infuriated email to my school’s financial service office, and came unglued with an undertrained Target employee.
I may have made academic history. I just turned in the first of my three papers for this class two full days before the deadline. It’s probably too soon to make this claim, but I feel like I’m growing. I have completed 40, yes forty, classes in my career as a student and I don’t think I’ve ever turned in a paper early. Granted, I still have 66 pages to read and a 300-word forum post to write before Wednesday, but let’s focus on the fact that I don’t also have a six-page paper looming over my head.
I’m afraid. Seeing myself react to different situations the last couple weeks, I wish I could see something other than what seems obvious. I’m explosive and numb. I’m irritable and unfocused. And all I want to do at the end of the day is tune out the world and not speak to anyone. All I can do is sit and wait to sleep, because I don’t care, and I don’t want to.
Depression isn’t a problem I once had. It isn’t something I’m only going to have to beat once. I only beat it for the first time, and now I can see it won’t be the last time. It’s part of my nature and my nurture. It’s something that will always be there, waiting for me to think it’s not still hanging over my head.
It doesn’t matter what my successes are. It doesn’t matter if I gain everything I hoped for. This cloud is going to ruin it. It will suck the joy out of everything.
I went off my supplements a couple months ago. I wanted to know if I was cured or if I was dependent. I guess now we know. I can’t be who I really am, who I was meant to be, without help. As a fiercely independent woman, I am devastated with staring that reality in the face. As the wife of the most intelligent, supportive man I’ve ever known… I am so grateful.
But grateful doesn’t quite describe it. I feel saved by the love I have, as if Someone knew I would need saving, and surrounded me with a fortress.
I’m not afraid of the future. I just wish the painful steps to get there weren’t so familiar.
There was a time, not six months ago, when I dreaded anyone asking me what my interests were. Depression was eating away at the marrow of my life, and I didn’t have the will to have interests. I watched TV shows and movies. I ate out a lot. Occasionally I would play the piano, just to have some semblance of living my life for more than work and sleep.
This morning I realized I’m developing interests! Natural, organic, true interests. I woke up at 5:00 yesterday morning and spent two hours browsing the Internet for all things “organizer.” I even blogged about my discoveries before I got ready for work.
This morning I’m up and at it again! It’s such an alien notion, I was sincerely confused as to why in the world my head was popping off the pillow with a mind for coffee and YouTube.
Then I realized, I like something. It doesn’t matter that it won’t change the world. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t a noble cause. It’s just something that gets my blood flowing. It’s enough to threaten tears! My life has me in it again. It’s like a welcome home party.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Mentor Me
In my third year of marriage my husband and I started going to a church that offered to match-up older couples with younger couples in the hope of sparking mentoring relationships between the wives and husbands. We met with the couple who were teachers and had three teenage kids. They were tall, both over six feet, and they towered over little five-foot-four me in stature and in wisdom. I was excited to get to know them. I’d never had a mentor before, and I was out of my depth to know how to be a good wife in the middle of dealing with infertility.
Vivian was a role model from the start. She cooked from scratch, she maintained a vegetable garden, and she kept chickens. She must have honed her no no-nonsense, get-to-the-point approach from her years in the classroom, but she was kind too. She lead much more than she pushed, but I didn’t find all that out until I moved in with her and her family.
My husband and I only met with our mentors once before a blind-siding day just before Christmas when the shit hit the fan and we separated. (Yes, this was my first husband.) Vivian’s family welcomed me with more than open arms. They asked me what color I liked and painted my room sage green to make it more my own. They invited me to eat dinner with them and watch “The Middle,” but they didn’t expect me to act like part of the family. They didn’t even ask me to pay rent.
I took care of their chickens while they were away one weekend, not very well. I didn’t “click” the door behind me when I went in to feed them and bunch of them got out. I swear, I was just like Link on Zelda’s Ocarina of Time trying to pick up chickens and throw them back in the pen. There I was, top of my class and I couldn’t figure out how to trap a bunch of flightless birds. It ended up being a lot more complicated than I though because, unlike Link, I couldn’t catch them!
The story of my chicken wrangling hour made everyone laugh. They needed to laugh, and I needed to hear it. I needed to know that I wouldn’t be a weepy wreck of a human being forever. And I wasn’t. Vivian and her family taught me that in the middle of a crisis, I could still be a functioning human being. I woke up early and went to the gym before work. I made pesto from scratch. I baked bread. And I cried as often as I needed to.
No one ever disturbed me when I was in my room. For three months it was my sanctuary. It was the time and place I needed to get a grip. Vivian taught me that sometimes people just need space to figure things out, and the most kind thing you can do for them is to invite them into a time and space that’s warm, welcoming, and nurturing.
Although they may not appreciate it at the time, that time and space should also have a light counter-weight of expectation. Notice I said counter-weight and not balance. Expectation is good for someone you’re caring for, but only as much as is needed to keep them from slipping away into depression. It should be enough to give them purpose, but not so much that they feel like they’re paying you back for your kindness.
I never felt indebted to Vivian and her family, which is possibly the greatest gift I ever received during that time of my life.