“Some days, 24 hours is too much to stay put in, so I take the day hour by hour, moment by moment. I break the task, the challenge, the fear into small, bite-size pieces. I can handle a piece of fear, depression, anger, pain, sadness, loneliness, illness. I actually put my hands up to my face, one next to each eye, like blinders on a horse.” ~ Regina Brett
Thursday was one of those days where to pull myself out of bed, was a huge challenge. I am not sure what it was whether it was the fact sun has been in short supply the last few weeks, the dreaded arrival of the polar vortex or a combination, but the ghastly seasonal affective disorder (sad) was hitting me hard. And early. It usually waits until January.
It is something I have struggled with since childhood. As a kid, I would curl up on my parents couch whether with a book or to take nap while Mother Nature decided to cry her eyes out or freeze the world into a blustering winter wonderland. Now that I am older I understand part of it was compounded by the depression and anxiety I didn’t realize I had and my moods that were very definitely at the weather’s mercy. In fact as I got older, I had doctors suggest I would do better in a warmer sunnier climate.
For the most part I hide it well. I have most of my life. It isn’t something until now that I have talked or written about. Due in part because I have felt like a failure. When you are a Type A perfectionist and depressed it doesn’t really fit together. In fact it tends to drag you down and make you feel even more worthless then you are.
Yet, it is also because I am such an over achiever that I can hide it so well.
With a to-do list a mile long with several impending trips, including one with a four AM wake up call the next morning, it was not the day to be “struck down” by this. No matter how hard I tried to rally, I just couldn’t. The added effects of the clock ticking as the day went on just added to my lethargic and feelings of being a failure.
People who have never dealt with depression or anxiety have no idea. It isn’t as easy as just pulling yourself up by your big girl pants and trudging through. Believe me as a former athlete where I got up at five in the morning whether I felt like it or not, this is nothing to do with being lazy or just not wanting too. You literally feel like your body is full of cement and your stuck in place and you have no idea why. Unable to move, despite knowing you really should. Eventually you do trudge through, but it takes reserves of energy that you save up for days like this.
It is what I did. I had last minute preparations to finish up, but it felt more like an out of body experience, like someone else was going through the motions and I was just the vessel being used for it. Yet, when I woke up the next day. I was fine. Ready to seize the day even BEFORE my alarm.
Only a handful of close friends and family know what I go through daily because it isn’t an injury I can wear like a badge but an affliction I try to hide in the bowels of a pyramid where no one will find or dare open for fear of unleashing the imperfections that compose me.
Oh I smile and act exuberant, but the tears threatening my eyes and the feelings of inadequacy always feel like they are going to bubble to the surface any moment, breaking through that facade I have put in place.
It is worse in the winter, though usually it roars its villainous little head in January, not now. With the spirit of the most wonderful time of the year, All the joyful decorations and the hustle and bustle of the city, it makes it better. Traveling and staying busy make it better.
And then that wall comes and I can’t get out of bed. I don’t even want to shower. I want to stay stuck in dreamland, hoping the Z’s will eradicate any and all negative feelings and emotions I have about myself and life.
Because the fact of the matter is, I do feel weaker. I do feel like a failure. I do feel unworthy. I know it is my body’s chemicals and hormones which the latter definitely doesn’t help as they fluctuate like a crazy rollercoaster every two weeks. Factually I know this.
Rationally, as much as I try to tell myself I am not, it doesn’t help. And other people telling me? Forget about it!
Yet days like Thursday come upon me with no rhyme or reason. Feeling like a puddle of skin with no bones to support myself. Where I am at war with my body and mind and I had no idea why. Where pulling myself up isn’t possible because I will just flop down even more broken. Even more unsupported.
So I crawl like a baby who takes its first steps. Because that is how you get through this. By taking a shower. By making your bed. By stepping out your door. By going to Starbucks. Then the post office. Then the store. And by the time you finish each step, you have accomplished your goals.
Baby steps. One goal at a time creating a chain of them. Utterly simplistic, but for me a gold medal worthy attempt. Until the dark storm passes and I see the light. And I know I will be okay.
Slowly but surely. Until the next time. And even then, I survive that too.