Depression Is An Asshole
If Depression was one of the X-Men, it would be Magneto, but instead of having control over metal objects, it controls your mental and physical energy. It’s a magical force that robs your ability to complete even the simplest and mundane of tasks.
Stuff, when your brain is healthy and not trying to destroy the building it’s housed in, that you wouldn’t even give a second thought. All those life skills you’re supposed to have mastered by the time you’re an adolescent go rocketing out the fucking window when Depression meanders in and sits on your chest, sticking its fingers in your eyes while roaring obscenities in your ears and calls you a hopeless piece of shit that needs to do everyone a favour and die. Like I said before, it’s an asshole.
You know that level of hyper-concentration and awareness you need in order to learn a new set of skills like those involved in say, riding a bike, or driving a car? Imagine applying that level of thinking to simply getting up in the morning. It’s EXHAUSTING. When you first learn to drive, it’s not a case of ‘getting into the car and driving’. It’s a bucketload of smaller tasks that you master in order to become a safe driver. In time and with lots of practice, all those tiny skills combine into the act of driving. They have to, otherwise you’d be a shitty nervous driver, too busy worrying about brake/clutch/mirror/gears/ to pay attention to the road and those others around you. Imagine a city that’s 90% brand new drivers freaking out all over the gaff? Fucking madness, Ted. The noise, the chaos, the terror, the carnage, the screaming and the sirens. And THAT, dear readers who are unfamiliar, is what it’s like for someone suffering with Depression who has to simply get up and get out of the house. Letter-posting not included.
Depression Is Not Laziness
I love when I read or hear suggestions or criticism from folks who don’t get it. When they say “Have you tried maybe going for a walk to clear the head?” This is what I hear:
That goddamn Fellowship don’t know what an epic journey is. At least there were nine of them starting out. You asking me to complete any simple task when my brain is in the Vulcan death-grip of Depression is at best laughable; and at worst, it makes me feel like you think I’m lazy. Lazy has fuck-all to do with it, and this whole letter-posting epic Herculean journey will illustrate just that.
That letter sat on my nightstand for weeks and weeks on end. I’d put it there so that it was the first thing I’d see when I woke up in the morning, the theory being that I’d pop it right into my bag and then chuck it into the post office on my way to work. See? Not lazy. I was up and out of the house 4 days a week, so I had ample opportunity to post that fecking thing. Even worse? I lived across the road from the Post Office, so it wasn’t even out of my way. See? Not lazy. By now I’m sure anyone reading this who is lucky enough to not live with depression is shaking their head in disbelief. I get it. It makes no sense. That’s the whole point. If it was a logical problem, it would have a logical solution. If I was lazy, then I certainly wouldn’t make my way into work as required, it’s less work to make it to the post office than to head down to the bus and go to work. I can’t explain it with a logical brain. I can only tell you that it just didn’t happen. I failed to get my shit done day in, day out. One day, I worked out why. I didn’t think I was worth it. I never do.
Depression Is A Big Fat Bully
You see, the letter was to help me get all my medical care stuff sorted. Once I’d sent that off, I’d have access to the affordable healthcare I was entitled to under my circumstances. I was already eligible, I just had to post the fucking letter. But my Depression tells me that I’m not worth saving. I don’t deserve to be well. I don’t deserve a life where there is hope for the future. Most people seek to rise above and achieve a level of happiness in their lives, I desire simply to come up from the bottom of the well and turn my face upward to the sky again. My Depression tells me not to bother; that nobody wants to see me anyway. That letter was a symbol of hope. It was me wading through a swamp of mental Superglue and taking some serious steps to get my mental health back on track, and my Depression wanted none of that carry-on at all. Why would it? It thrives in the darkness, the fear, the shitty brain chemistry. How dare I make a move to control it?
I read a post on Facebook a few weeks back which made me go into the Ugly Cry, because it home so hard. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this piece. I’ve written before about how micro-managing the everyday things in life can help when living with Depression and anxiety, but the flipside to that coin is that these things can seem so insurmountable when you’re down in the bunker. Read Katelyn Marie Lesho‘s post below to see what we mean when we talk about how fucking paralysing depression can be:
Well, eventually, I did it. I posted the letter six weeks ago (and I’m still waiting after sending on more info they requested but that’s the Irish healthcare system for you) so I’m on the cusp of re-starting some class of a treatment programme to try and put a leash and a muzzle on that Black Dog of mine. I’ve a lot of dialogue in my mind, most of it is violent and abusive, and it tells me not to bother with such luxurious frivolities as self-care or physical and mental well-being. Every now and again, from the bottom of the well, a little voice cuts through the noise and begs for some light and a helping hand to reach down. So when I hear it, and it’s one of my better days, I hang on for dear life and run around like a mad yoke; making appointments, returning phone calls, replying to emails….and posting fucking letters like a boss.
Here’s to posting another one in the next four months. I’m off for a lie-down and a cry now.