You know when you wake up from a night of partying, how everything’s a blur and your room’s a mess? Clothes thrown all over, a wine bottle lying on its side, a big Merlot stain bleeding out of the neck like a word cloud that I imagine would say something like “WTF PJ?” or “Really, girl?” That was my room this week. Except instead of one night it was one month, and instead of partying it was depression.
I didn’t wake up from depression, but rather, I woke up to it. The more aware of it I became, the more desperately I wanted it to vanish. To go back to where it had been hiding. To never bother me again. I scrunched up my face the way you do when you realize you have to face something you wish never existed in the first place. I rolled out of bed, put on a hat, and walked my butt to therapy. The appointment was long overdue. And it showed. As I sat there discussing medication, something I’d only flirted with as a concept, my mind started rolling through a list of common, but destructive, thoughts:
How did this happen? I take good care of myself. I quit drinking (more on this later). I do yoga, meditation, acupuncture. I exercise. Take vitamin D. And B12. And magnesium. I sit by a sunshine lamp. I drink smoothies and herbal tea. I journal, practice gratitude, pray, go to church. What am I doing wrong? What did I do to cause this? What went wrong?
The answer, of course, is nothing. What can I do better? is also a trap. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & all the self-care things are great, essential, but sometimes they aren’t enough. The last time I felt this bad, I left school. If you’ve been following along, you remember those weren’t the best of times. I had a cushion then; I had time then. I could take time now, too, I guess, but I don’t want to leave. I want to complete the next 112 days in this Institution. I told this to the doc lady, and told her, too, that I was terrified. And exhausted. Unable to do my work. When you’re depressed, she said, things that take two points of energy now take twenty. Yeah, I said, slumping down a bit, I feel that. And since I have no appetite whatsoever, I can’t fuel all the extra energy I need to get through one day, let alone one hundred and twelve. I told her that it’s been a particularly hard week, no, a hard month, and actually, now that I think about it, this has been creeping up for the better part of a year.
As someone who loves caring for herself and others, it’s been hellish being unable to do so. To do basic things. Recycle a milk container. Open my car door. Remove my eyeliner. Gather my tax papers. Schedule appointments. I have to ask for more help than I’m comfortable receiving. For forgiveness. Patience. Love.
I’ve been here before, and have dealt with it in different ways. When I was a teenager, I powered through. Destructive, but effective at the time. A few years ago, I didn’t have the capacity to do that again. I lowered or removed all expectations. I withdrew, hid, collapsed. I apologized for the time and space I was taking, time and space that were mine to take. I’m not doing that again. I’m trying new strategies to cope with this nasty disorder. I’m going the pharmaceutical route. The yoga-every-single-day route. The write-and-talk-it-out-even-when-there’s-nothing-I’d-rather-do-less route. The honest-conviction route. The hold-tight-and-wait-it-out route. The whatever-it-takes-to-graduate route.
I was driving home the other night and was behind a car that had a license plate frame that said: “With God, anything is possible.” I turned on this song, reached up to grab hold of the rosary I hang from the sun visor, and tuned out.