On Wednesdays, I get toothpaste in my eye. I’m not sure why this occurs every week without fail. It’s not intentional. Wednesdays are not good days for me in general.
There’s a pattern.
Sundays, I forget to do everything and wind up frantic at 10:00 at night, wondering how I’m going to do it all with no time.
Mondays are like New Years Day. I’m bright and shiny with intention and purpose. It will be a phenomenal day. I will exercise, plow through my pending work, clean the house, volunteer for a charity, and find a cure for the common cold. I wait until about 3:00 to admit none of that happened, but the dream has not yet died.
Tuesdays, I take another stab at it, but it’s like January 2nd. You can’t recapture the magic of that electric determination. By lunchtime, I stop even pretending to be a productive member of society.
Wednesdays are toothpaste. There’s often an afternoon nap involved, too.
Thursdays, I don’t give a damn about anything. I do what needs doing, but it takes effort. If someone asks me to participate in some event or activity on Thursday, it ain’t happening.
Fridays, it’s a toss-up whether I’m even going to get dressed.
On Saturdays, my resolutions come back, only this time I swear to go out and enjoy the world, see art, watch a play, and enjoy life. It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing… I’ll just finish this chapter in my book, and then I’ll get going. Yep.
Then I keep reading straight through to Sunday evening.
The pattern of my life is one I would love to change. My therapist would love for me to change it, too. If nothing else, I would get more work done, which would enable me to afford my therapy sessions. It’s a vicious circle.
Every night, I lie in bed and imagine worlds and adventures and people, forming them into stories in my head. Everyone tells me to write them down. I don’t.
When you talk to people about depression, this is not what they would imagine, I think. How it wears you down, dragging at you in whispers that hold you back with subtle force. I’m not sad. Like I said, it’s a beautiful day, the sun, the birds, etc. My mind is just not under my complete control. And yes, it’s frustrating as hell.
There are rare days when I am hypo-manic and can take on the world. Those are the days when work gets done, stuff gets cleaned, and I am the mistress of all I survey. Brimming with focus, burning to explore the world. It doesn’t last, though. I pay the price afterward with an unusual low. This is kind of like a kid on a sugar high passing out when they come back down.
So low is bad, high is bad, and I have to learn to ride the line between the two. My pattern allows this, but I need to change my pattern. How to stay balanced while doing this is a conundrum.
My friends and family want wonderful things for me. That’s great. I want wonderful things, too. And I understand it’s hard to watch from the outside while I continue with the same old behaviors and making the same old mistakes. It’s impressive these people stick around, really. I’m annoying.
There are these voices in my head. (No, not like that. I’m not schizophrenic.)The encouragement, faith, love, and admiration I receive from the people in my life is a quiet chorus, whispering at me over and over to remind me that there is something more, and that I can have it. These soothing voices join together against the loud clamor of my own inner voice telling me I suck in every possible way. It’s hard to hear past that barrage of negativity.
I hear everyone, though. I do. No one should ever think that their words have no effect on me. Often those words are the only weapons I have in the fight to do SOMETHING today, even if it’s brushing my teeth. Without those voices in my mind, it would be a fight I couldn’t win.
Mental illness is invisible. Sure, you can see someone flake out and do some weird shit. You can see cuts, scars, weight gained or lost, mood swings, seizures and meltdowns. It’s below the surface that the true symptoms do their damage, however. Each depressive person’s experience is unique to them, but there are many near-constant similarities. The biggest is that depression has the potential to tear apart everything they care about and want to build for themselves. It’s impossible to do your taxes, wash the dishes, or manage your workload when you’re fighting a sumo wrestler in your head. Your hands are already full.
I’m not sure where this is going, but here it is anyway.
In my case, depression is a fact of life. I’ve never been without it, even as a toddler. There is no “me” without depression. I’d be a completely different person. That means that there is no clear way to unravel its effects from the rest of who I am. It feeds my creativity, informs my decisions, and influences my relationships. So I have no frame of reference for what “normal” would mean for me. I don’t think I’d like it.
My imagination walks hand in hand with my illness, giving me words and images and characters to bring to life in my writing. The books I read come alive, dynamic and immersed in detail. That would be hard to give up.
Having been judged and marginalized all my life, I am much more accepting and accommodating in my interactions with others. I embrace the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. (Metaphorically. I’m not a hugger.)
It makes me want to help others, support those who are suffering, particularly when their circumstances are more heartbreaking or perilous than mine. I want to fix all the problems in the world, even though I can’t fix mine.
Depression gives me those gifts, but it keeps me from using them. And that’s a dilemma that makes me run around in mental circles day and night. I want to use the talents and strengths. I want to achieve my potential. I want to tap into the creative spring inside me. If only I manage to be strong enough to fight the ogre who lives in my thoughts and tears apart my confidence.
My ability to feel any self-worth is significantly impaired. I can’t accept that it’s not my fault, because I’d get past it if I didn’t suck. I can’t defend myself against criticism, because it’s true that I suck. It’s hard to believe that anyone really loves me because I suck. There’s no point in working to become healthier, since I’d suck regardless. Every time I meet someone new, they can tell right away that I suck. No one will ever read my books because they suck. I will never, ever be good enough, because I’m not good at all.
This is the ogre that lives in my head. This is the voice that I hear ALL the time. It’s constant. It’s there right now, telling me to stop typing and just go back to bed with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and a spoon to mourn the loss of my dignity.
I may not be dignified, but I did write this. The quiet voices of hope helped me write this, and so even this small step is an accomplishment.
Suck it, mind ogre.