It’s been a rough week.
I’m doing everything right. I’ve been drinking lots of water, eating lots of fruits and veggies, and spending at least seven hours in bed every night. I’ve even gone to the gym a few times. I’ve been spending time with friends, going to therapy, and taking my meds. I still feel terrible.
People talk about depression like it’s just about feeling sad. But for me, depression has always been more about feeling empty. I start to feel like I’m moving through molasses. Everyday chores like laundry and cooking become a huge struggle. It’s hard to get out of bed or off the couch. It’s hard to leave my apartment. There’s so much to do, but I’m so anxious about everything that I get paralyzed, stuck, and it all just keeps piling up. Everything seems so hopeless. I can’t stop telling myself sad stories. I start to wonder why I should even try. I always think that King Solomon must have been depressed when he wrote Ecclesiastes. “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless.”
On bad days, it becomes a struggle just to take care of myself. My appetite is weird, and I’m so apathetic that I’m usually dizzy before I really start to think about getting something to eat. I’ll get thirsty or cold, but I won’t do anything about it until I have to get up for something else. I find myself thinking about razor blades as a coping mechanism. It gets ugly sometimes.
When I first started struggling with depression, my parents treated it like a major moral failure. They acted like I’d gotten addicted to drugs or been sleeping around and picked up an STD. They still talk about that period that way, and I’ve internalized the idea that my mental illness is a character flaw. Deep down, I still feel like I wouldn’t be dealing with this if I were an intrinsically better person.
In reality, I’m doing everything that I can. I’m going to therapy, taking my meds, and doing the best self-care I am capable of. Most days are just one foot in front of the other. Monday and Tuesday were brutal, and I didn’t leave the house or put on real clothes. Tuesday I took a shower and ran two loads of laundry. Yesterday, I ate three meals, showered, and went to work. Every night, I remind myself that I get another chance tomorrow. Every morning, I try to make today a better day. If it’s a bad day, I make my goals “eat something” and “take a shower.” If it’s a good day, I’ll try to get to the gym, do a little cleaning, and spend some time with my guitar. If I’m somewhere in the middle, I prioritize a healthy diet, good sleep, and overall improvement. I’m getting better at rolling with the punches.
Maybe someday my brain won’t be my worst enemy, but in the meantime I’m learning not to be so hard on myself. Bad days happen, but life goes on afterwards. Missing a few checks on the to-do-list on those bad days won’t ruin my life. My life is going to happen, no matter what, and I’m going to make it the best I can. It’s going to be alright.