I woke up today, and didn’t feel like writing. I have been looking forward to the day when I would not feel compelled to exorcise my demons through writing, but that’s not what was going on. Believe it or not, I don’t usually write every day, not even every other day. Sometimes I go for weeks without posting a new piece. Never from lack of ideas. I’ve got at least five essays roaming through my mind at any given time. But most of the time, I am busy living life and do not have the luxury of writing. I’ve only been writing so much recently because it is one of the things that brings me peace, and I have been in desperate need of peace.
Last night, the doom began to settle in. I could see it coming, like one might look out a window and notice dark clouds and anticipate rain later in the day.
Of course I have reason to be down. My brother has passed away, and I’m still working through that. I know this depression is normal, and is going to take time to heal, and I just need to be patient. I know that, and repeat those words often, like a mantra of protection.
As a person with chronic depression, this doom brings up its own set of questions. Has my medication stopped working? Do I need to go back to the doctor? Is this a depression that is going to settle in and affect my life, or am I just having an off day?
The questions do not have easy answers, and even though I have gained experience in treating my depression over the years, each occurrence brings about its own unique symptoms, issues, and coping strategies.
I have a friend who has a similar condition. As a writer, I want to use some sort of action verb in this sentence- she battles a similar conditions, struggles with, etc. But I kind of hate those words, maybe because it is a battle, maybe because those words don’t seem to accurately describe the feeling.
In her younger days, I would notice she would sometimes cut herself and cover the evidence with bracelets. I would become enraged with her, which is of course the exact opposite of what I should have done. I would tell her things like “You know when you feel like this to get to a doctor. You know you have to take care of yourself.” Having lived it myself, I understand that knowing what you should do, and having the gumption to do it are two very different things.
The cuts scared me. My love for her made me want to “fix” her, yell at her, give her the wake up call. I cared for her and was terrified of losing her. Maybe the cuts were her way of saying “I’m hurting and I don’t want to hurt anymore.”
I end up writing because I think people do not vocalize enough what they are in need of. Our society tends to look down on someone who says “I’m insecure. I need others to lift me up. I can’t handle this myself.” We pride ourselves on being self reliant and confident. We get annoyed by people who are weak.
One of my all time favorite movies is Chasing Amy. Janeane Garafalo had a bit in her standup about this film, how if a guy in real life said “I love you and I’m a better man for having loved you,” the woman receiving those words would not be so receptive. She’d saying something like “I don’t respect you at all anymore. Be a man! God! Be aloof! What’s your problem? Don’t call- You want me to like you? Don’t pick up that damn phone!”
Maybe it’s that when we say something as real as “I’m hurting. I need help,” it puts it on the other person to respond and makes us feel better. We all have our own shit to deal with. We don’t need more piled on top.
Last night around 10pm, I starting painting rocks. I should have been in bed already, as I have little ones that get up before it is even light outside. But ten o’clock came, and I was wide awake and my mind was racing. I knew I had a choice. I could go to bed and lay there with my eyes wide open. I could drink a couple of beers and hope to pass out. Or I could use the time productively, even if it caused me to be even more awake.
I chose to paint the rocks in preparation for today. The same way you might close the windows and pack an umbrella when you see a storm coming, I too, have a checklist when the doom begins to settle. I know I will need something to do with my hands, something sort of mindless and repetitive. I have been wanting to paint mandelas on rocks, but haven’t had the time. I decided to lay down the base coat of paint so I would be ready for the practice of repetitive dotting today. I started a new doodle to leave on the counter so I could grab five minutes of sketch time as needed.
I woke up today, and did not want to write. But I know that writing brings catharsis. It helps me to let go of the thoughts that fester in my mind and move on with my day. I also notice people are more receptive to connection through writing. It is too scary for someone to stand in front of you and say “I’m hurting.” It’s too real. Writing creates enough of a space for people to open up and say “I’ve been through that, and this helped me,” or “I’m here for you.” Sometimes just knowing you are not the only one makes the doom a little less powerful.
Ok, I have done my duty. I’ve pushed back the doom, at least a little, for now. There is Spanish homework to be done, and a forced workout before preschool pickup, time permitting. I allowed myself 30 minutes for doom. In reality, I took 45. But now it is time to move on.