For months I have been locked into this depression, where the slightest deviation makes it a thousand times worse. It was as if I went off script, did one thing differently, the terror and darkness inside metastasized. I’d try to listen to music. Two songs in, I’d be so nervous and feel so out of sorts, I’d put back on a tv show. Because tv shows soothe me when I get this way.
The anxiety kept me inside, cringing at the noises from outdoors. My kid’s defiance seemed like an all out assault on my fragile senses and poor coping skills.
It was in a way like being paralyzed.
I’d love to say I am miraculously cured by eating squid ink or some shit but it’s not the case. I am just as broken today as I was yesterday.
BUT a couple of times this week I have dared to go off script, as in, standing up to the depression. It dictates everything and I usually fight it until I can’t anymore then wave the white flag. This week, for a couple of times, I defied the depression.
First, I took my kid across the street, in broad daylight with others around, and taught her to fly a kite. This held her interest about five minutes before she preferred picking dandelions but…
For five minutes I was doing the fun mom thing. It felt good. Then it felt strange. Then it felt like if I didn’t get back inside my bubble the world might just implode.
And yeah, I know it’s irrational and silly. But mental illness often is.
I still let my kid play outside. I still kept checking on her every two minutes. I would take five minute breaks to sit on the step and eat her rock/dirt concoctions. I was forcing interaction and it was hard and scary and the wide open outdoors with all the noisy neighbors really did petrify me…
But I did it. It was exhausting.
My kid is exhausting because nothing holds her attention more than five minutes so even if I were the posterchild for sanity she’d still make it hard for me to keep her entertained.
The point is, after two days of basically praying for an end to it all…I stood up to my depression, flipped it off, and basically told it that it was taking a backseat even if only for a few minutes.
Did I win the battle?
But I put up a fight and sometimes still having fight left in you is highly motivating.
In the second instance of defiance against depression and anxiety…I read a book. Yes, this seems trivial. But for the last year or two, I’ve barely been able to focus enough to read a chapter every two days.Not my norm because I am generally a voracious reader.
Not two weeks after starting the Focalin, my brain has slowed down enough to draw me into a story. I kept reading that book from 2 pm until the last page at 9:30 p.m. I didn’t turn on the tv shows or any background noise. I read. I enjoyed.
My kid played outside, then inside. We had breakfast pizza for supper. She got to take a bath with her Dora body paints. I finally showered. She was so well behaved, it was like I’d brought home the wrong kid.
And I didn’t go to bed until almost ten and because I wasn’t sleepy yet, I was awake until nearly 11.
Of course, the depression tugged away, the anxiety, chipped away…
Three weeks ago I didn’t have any fight left in me, just autopilot.
I guess that pulled muscle and subsequent crippling pain motivated me to embrace not feeling that way physically, enough that I could battle my mental demons adequately.
And that’s what it really boils down to. It’s never a case of being lazy or using a mental illness as an excuse to not do anything. Much like a sick body, its healing power affects functionality. Some days are good, some days are bad, some days are just survival.
There are days when your mind is too sick to do battle and that’s okay. No matter what the mundanes tell you, it’s okay to be sick and it’s okay to be too exhausted to fight it at times.
But the times when you have that little bit of oomph, be it a burst of hypomanic energy, or just getting good and pissed off…Those are the days you take that fuel, throw it on the fire, and run with the flames. Run until the depression douses them. It’s no cure. It may not even cheer you up.
But I feel less shitty knowing I am attempting to fight it. It’s not that it knocks me down.
It’s that no matter how many times it knocks me down…I keep getting back up.