You sometimes read articles trying to help people navigate the difference between regular sadness and depression. Or how to determine when a situational “depression” (for lack of a better word) is no longer applicable. When a trigger of grief or trauma or emotional upheaval has transcended into something chemical, something that has crossed a line.
There are lists that reference appetite (eating too much? eating too little?), sleep (sleeping too much? sleeping too little?), overwhelming thoughts (obvi the ones about wanting to hurt yourself or others, not being able to stop thinking negatively), having activities which once brought you pleasure no longer doing so, etc. But honestly, these lists and checkboxes can often seem sterile and hard to understand. Let me illustrate:
I have not left the house in four days. I’ll be honest, it’s been easy, since it’s been fucking cold out, but truthfully, all that’s done is assuage the guilt. I’d be doing the same thing if it were 70. I’ve gone from couch to bed to couch to bed.
Everything hurts. My neck, back, shoulders. My legs, ankles, knees. Every joint. Every muscle. Once or twice, I’ve gathered up my wits and laid on the floor and stretched out. This has been helpful, but also furthered the negative self-talk: “You used to be more flexible. There was a time you used to do yoga. You’re never going to lose these last 20 pounds. If you had a job with insurance, you’d be able to go to physical therapy, see a rheumatologist. Why don’t you do this every day? Why don’t you at least do calisthenics? Why does everything hurt? Will this ever change? Not if you never do anything about it.” I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.
It’s hard to wake up from sleep and already ache. But then again, I don’t know what kind of rest I’m getting — I dream and dream and dream all night. I can tell you my dreams; they’re vivid and detailed and I remember some of the ones I had three nights ago. The cast of characters is long and varied. People from my current life, people from my past. My dad often makes appearances — I don’t even think a thing of it, really. I’m used to it, it doesn’t shock me or make me surprised or sad. It’s like I expect him to be there, so he is. But I have to think if I dream that much, I can’t be getting that much rest.
Then again, maybe I am. I sleep — I wake up periodically at 4, 6, 8 am when my cat wants to eat, but then I sleep until noon. And when I realize how pathetic I am, I sleep some more. Until 1, until 2. Or maybe I get up at 11 and then try to do some work, but by 2 or 3, I feel SO tired. I need a nap. Don’t you need a nap? I need a nap. And I fall asleep until 7 pm. Or something.
I have a TON of laundry to do. I have had this laundry to do for over a week. Maybe two? And I just can’t seem to do it. The thought of the physical effort I will have to put forth seems fucking impossible, to be honest. I know once the inertia is broken, and I’ve started the process, I will be so glad, and the process of doing laundry is quite pleasant. But the starting, the starting is so hard.
I eat — I eat so randomly. I eat whole cashews out of a bag. I might make a bag of rice or eat a chicken bratwurst. In the early morning or late night, I might sit and eat Trader Joe’s granola out of a bag. I drink cranberry juice and water. I have a few chocolates that I still have that a friend sent me from England. I eat some baby carrots. I really just want a fucking meal, but I don’t have the wherewithal to cook one. And I’m not leaving the house. Besides, I don’t really have the money to be spending out, anyway.
I FINALLY got in the shower today. God, that was fucking amazing. It had to be done, and I knew it was going to be a key to getting things turned around. I would have gladly stayed in there forever, but my bathroom window has a terrible breeze — I have a few garbage bags duct/duck taped up there, but there were a few holes I need to fix, and it was colder than I wanted it to be. I took a shorter shower than I would have — being that it’s been longer than I want it to be since I’ve taken one.
I need to re-apply for food stamps. I haven’t had a job or income for awhile. But I’m not sure what documentation they need, and the thought of getting it together OR going down to the office is SO huge. I need to get documentation from the unemployment office to send to my student loan people for a deferment application. Same same. I have some writing to do for some freelance work. God, if only my brain was working — I can’t believe I’m actually able to write this. I think I am because I’m so fucking pissed about being depressed, so my adrenaline is up a little. And I’m going to have to move at the end of March, and I’m worried about that, too.
So, yeah. That’s what depression really looks like. Yeah, I’m sleeping more, checklist. Yeah, I’m eating like a fucking weirdo. Yeah, the things which used to bring me pleasure — I can’t even remember when I listened to music. But it’s more than a list. I’m more than a list. I’m a person doing and not doing things. You can’t just check me off.
This will be a book one day — don’t you want to say you knew me way back when? Subscribe to my email — my list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.