Sunday 16 February 2020

Laying low

When I was a kid I loved comic books. Mickey Mouse and Asterix and Obelix were my favourites. At my parents' store we had the regular comic books that were the size of a magazine, but we also had extra-thick comic books with hundreds of pages, and I read every single one of them. I loved the big ones the best. 
There was one story that I loved so much, I still think about it regularly, even 30 years later.

It's summer, and everybody goes on vacation. For some reason Mickey and Minnie Mouse can't go away and have to stay in the city. But instead of moping around they make the best of it, and the best part of the story features them having the time of their lives: Mickey and Minnie at romantic candle-lit dinners, going dancing, visiting museums, having picnics, lying in the grass hand-in-hand gazing up at the stars, cruising around in a convertible with Minnie's scarf jauntily flying behind her, eating ice cream.
I loved that story. As a tween who was beginning to get intimately acquainted with FOMO (back-to-school included everybody bragging about their vacations, and I'd only ever been on camping trips), this story reminded me that you could have a great time anywhere, not just in exotic locations.
These days I don't have FOMO anymore. I feel extremely fortunate for having ended up in an area that features so much sunshine and little rain; for having a husband who understands me better than I understand myself; for living with my dogs and cats and all the other animals; for having a healthy body; and for doing what I love: writing and earning a living as an x-ray tech.
But I have an annual passenger that attaches itself to me every January, and usually hangs on for at least 8 weeks: my depression.

Every New Year's I'm hopeful (=foolish) enough that I believe that this is the year where it won't find me.
But every year I'm wrong.
My depression always wins in the winter. No matter how hard I try, how determined I am, how much I count my blessings - it gets me every winter.
A weight settles over me. It makes moving about hard. Getting out of bed difficult.  Attempting new things nearly impossible. 
It dims the light. The world looks grey. People look hostile. I believe that everybody is out to get me. That everything I do will be wrong and just the excuse people have been waiting for to get rid of me. I'm scared of making mistakes at work because I believe that when I do everybody will at last realize what a failure I am. 
I feel lonely.
At the same time, I also avoid people. As soon as I'm done with work I head home, eager to be alone. All I want to do is hide from the world. I crave community, but can't bring myself to go out and join other people.
My brain knows that I'm loved, but I still feel alone. There's a barrier keeping me from reaching out  for help to my loved ones.
My depression does its best to keep me isolated; it's much more powerful when I'm alone instead of having other people by my side.
I can't focus.
I try to write but I have no energy, no creative spark, no concentration. I feel like a failure, a fraud, a silly idiot.
My depression makes me feel like the biggest loser. I'm useless.
I remind myself of my job, of my income. It helps a little, but not much.
My husband reminds me daily of how much he loves me. How important I am to him. It helps a little.
I'm scared.
Scared of losing Rich. I'm always scared of losing him, but never more so than when I'm in the grip of a depressive episode.
I'm scared of not making enough money in the future.
I'm scared of getting sick.
I'm scared of my loved ones getting sick.
I'm scared of people confronting me.
I'm scared all the fucking time.
So I lay low. I go to work, stick to myself as much as possible to save my energy for my patients, and then go straight home. I hide on the sofa and in my bed. I take Lily for long walks. I do yoga. I live in the world of wizards and muggles, and in the 60s amongst the brave and strong midwives of the Call the Midwife world.
I sleep as much as I can.
I remind myself that depression lies. I know that this heaviness will pass.
My husband reminds me daily that he loves me.
I take my antidepressants and my fish-oil capsules.
I eat my greens and fruit.
And an (un?)healthy amount of sour candy and chocolate.

I smile every day until it becomes real.
Because even in the midst of my depression, I have learnt to find a reason to smile. I have taught myself to find joy, even if it's fleeting.
I find joy in every sunny day.
Every blue sky.
Every strong feat my body can accomplish.
But everything is exhausting. It's hard to get out of bed when you're in a depression.
Every day stretches out endlessly, an obstacle so high it seems impossible to conquer.
Depression makes you very tired.

But I know it will pass.
So for now, I take my joy and pleasure where I can find it. And there is lots to be found; I live a very happy and full life.
But most of the time I rest a lot.
And I lay low.
Just like nature, I will bloom again soon.



  1. Replies
    1. ❤❤❤ Thank you! It helps SO much to get the words out of my head and onto the screen. I can breathe so much easier once they're out, it's a weight lifted off me.

  2. Grow those roots so you emerge stronger than ever.

    1. Hibernation is a saving grace. I can feel new life stirring inside me 🌱


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