I’m not going to offer an explanation as to why I haven’t written anything in a month; no, I’m going to tell you a story.
My depression starts at the back of my esophagus. It begins as a small hole, only noticeable at three in the morning when I trace shapes with my eyes on the ceiling of my new house. Slowly, the hole gets bigger. Soon enough it feels like the size of my fist.
Now, in case you are a literal reader, there isn’t actually a hole in my throat. I haven’t burned away a fist-sized hole in my esophagus because of heartburn, puking, or eating acidic food. This hole is metaphysical. I have no proof that it is there or not other than the way I feel. Consider it Schrodinger’s Hole (that’s what she said): it is both there and not there at all times.
And, to add insult to metaphysical injury, it is a black hole. It is a vacuum of the space-time continuum (and boy, does it suck).
The first thing that the hole obliterates is my motivation. I haven’t written anything in a month. Not because I’m too busy or because there aren’t stories floating around in this apathetic noggin of mine, but because the act of writing takes more energy (ie–little to semi-little) than I am willing to expend.
Then my confidence goes: I convince myself that you, my audience, doesn’t actually read what I write, or want to read what I write. I tell myself (even though I know, logically, that it doesn’t make any sense) that you are all too busy and follow much more entertaining writers who post on a daily basis and don’t disappoint you with a lack of stories.
Next, the hole gobbles up my logic and self-worth simultaneously. I am now convinced that anything I write will not be up to your standards or mine, so, combining that with a lack of confidence and motivation, I stopped writing completely. I stop because I convince myself that I, as a writer, am not good enough for you, as a reader, so why bother.
For the past month, the only thing really getting me out of bed is my dog, Atreyu. If I let this depression take control like I want it to, I would stay in bed all day watching the Olympics, Say Yes to the Dress, and True Blood (there’s no accounting for taste, but at least I didn’t say Toddlers and Tiaras… I only watch that show when I’m too happy and need to be reminded how shitty the world is).
I would also refuse to spend time with people. I would eat entire bags of chocolate chips in one sitting. I would wear my PJs all day every day and I would cry into toilet paper (I am too pathetic to have tissues). But, fortunately, my dog needs to eat, and go to the bathroom, and stretch his legs. So I force myself out of bed, feed him, sleep for an hour more, and then I make myself take him for a two-mile walk, rejecting excuses for why I should turn back early (the most common being, “he has pooped and I’m pooped“).
The other night a friend came over to keep me company. We snuggled in my bed, and at about one in the morning, I started sobbing. I haven’t sobbed, full-on chest-wracking, hiccup-inducing sobbed for years. But I let it all out. I wailed and talked about how I feel like everything I do is wrong, that I don’t really feel attracted to wonderful people and I don’t feel attractive to anyone, that I’m constantly disappointing everyone, that I’m not worth my friends’ time or effort, and that I’m a terrible person.
My friend laughed and said, of course those things aren’t true. His laughter, while well-spirited and kind, only made me angry and cry harder. A tiny voice in the back of my head says he’s right, of course he’s right, but as that voice protested, I also heard it scream its way into the black hole.
I am depressed. But I am fighting it, not because I’m against upping my medication. But because I know, with enough effort, I can defeat it myself. I’m not afraid of calling my doctor, but I am afraid of not trying myself.
So what do I do?
Step one: Get out of bed every morning before noon. That may be easy for you, but my entire body feels exhausted when I’m depressed. Getting out of bed feels like climbing what we Coloradans affectionately call “fourteeners” (a 14,000+ ft mountain).
Step two: Shower–forcing myself into cleanliness makes me feel a teensy-bit better, and also helps alleviate my disgust towards myself.
Step three: Take Atreyu for an extra-long walk. Sunlight helps ease depression symptoms, so I’m not afraid to look like the loner Iam and sit on the bench by the park and soak it all in.
Step four: Exercise. This is the most important step. Setting a routine helps you not only get in shape, but provides endorphins which will break you out of a depression faster than you can bulge out of your fat pants. I am, unfortunately, at a point where I know that’s what I have to do, but I don’t care. (I’ll get over that once I hate myself enough. Probably)
Step five: Be social. Other people have the uncanny ability to lift my spirits and make me feel loved. This is the 2nd most important step. Isolating yourself only makes depressions escalate. I feel like staying in bed all day, but I always feel better after hanging out with friends.
Finally, step six: Write more, constantly, all the time, whenever I can. This is as much for my depression as it is my craft. I am probably a good writer, but holding back out of fear doesn’t help me improve, and it also lends credence to my “I-suck-balls” thought process. So, while I don’t believe that my writing is any good right now, and it’s kind of upsetting just to write this post, it is more upsetting to wallow and know that I’m not living up to my expectations simply because I gave up.
And I’m a fighter, don’t you forget that.