anecdotes and reflections on living with depression and anxiety
Hey, hi, hello.
If you haven’t been here before, then hi (with an exclamation point)! I’m excited about you! You can learn about me and this blog here and, if you want to, you can start at the beginning of my delightful mental health story here. Or you can just read this. Or you can skip around and read what you want. Really, it’s up to you. Obviously.
If you’ve been here before, let’s start with the obvious: it’s been awhile. Thanks for coming back. I’m glad you’re here, and will readily acknowledge that I disappeared from this blog the way an introvert ghosts a crowded party. (Oh wait -- I sometimes do that too. Whoops.)
So, formalities aside -- here we go. I want to tell you about why it’s been a while.
It’s been awhile because in the past, words have strung themselves together in my brain with a pressing need to be expressed and received immediately, and I would have full paragraphs in my head before I even sat down to type. I could write blog post after blog post, editing on the fly, often struggling to wait even a day between posts. And then, suddenly, it all stopped. The words just bunched all up in my head and refused to form meaningful sentences. They boycotted -- or mutinied -- or went on vacation. What had been so easy, so available to me, had vanished.
And so: silence.
I think one reason my writing slowed down at first was that I wrote a post about how easy it was to get pulled down into the spiral of depression: how you can tiptoe around it and give it a wide berth and still manage to get sucked into a vortex of aloneness and worthlessness and hopelessness.
Then, in all my wisdom, I promised a part two that would explain what it actually feels like inside that place. And hell if I could bring myself to sit down and write about that experience in any way, let alone in a cogent and articulate way that would be accessible to readers. I just couldn’t go there.
At first I couldn’t write about the dark spirally depression place because I wasn’t in it. Thank the Lord, hallelujah, I wasn’t in it. I was doing more than just getting through life: not just working and eating and sleeping, feeling bored and useless and drained, but actually finding time for the things that constitute living. I was doing things like nurturing friendships, and exercising, and cooking, and volunteering. I was sometimes enjoying my job. I had purpose. I felt like I was actually living life a little bit, and why would anyone who is thriving (or has even allowed herself to think that she might feel like she’s thriving) want to willingly put herself in that familiar, treacherous place of misery? Just for the sake of writing a few words?
And the longer I was unwilling to write about that place, for fear of venturing into it again, the more stubbornly I held back from writing at all. I’m a people pleaser, my therapist says -- always worried about what others will think, trying to anticipate how I can best live up to their expectations instead of my own -- and so having promised a part two about “the spiral,” I thought that I couldn’t write, let alone post, anything else until I wrote about that. And now, as I check the date on that last entry, I am startled to see that it has been almost 17 months since I published anything on here.
I’ve certainly thought about writing something and posting it. To be perfectly honest, I’ve thought about it almost every day. My website subscription came due and I renewed it, promising myself that it would be good motivation to actually start writing. That was months ago. It took weeks and weeks of mentally prepping myself, of talking myself up, of reminding myself that I have valid thoughts and decent words with which to articulate them. But I was afraid to come back without the content I had teased in my last post.
Finally, after months of hemming and hawing and not writing, I realized -- in the words of my wonderful therapist -- “Who cares?” (That’s her code for, “You’re a grown woman and you can do what you want and live how you want and who cares what anyone else has to say about that?” She probably says it at least once a session, and I love her for it.)
Who cares what I said I would write back then? Who cares that I took an unplanned hiatus from blogging? Who cares that now I’m back and I’m writing something different from what I said I would, a year and a half ago?
Who cares? If you’re reading this (and seriously, God bless you if you are) then you obviously have found a way to be okay with this lapse of mine. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that others, whether they’re close friends and family or Internet strangers, are often capable of offering more grace and acceptance than we are willing to offer ourselves. I think you’re probably that kind of person. I’m pretty glad about it.
(Did I really think someone would come at me for not writing what I said I’d write? No. Do I really tend to make decisions based on what I think people want me to do? Yes. Do I still roll my eyes every time my therapist says that I should stop doing that? Yes. But only because she’s right.)
So here we are. I have some things to say and some stories to tell about living with depression and anxiety, and if you’ve made it to the end of this rambly bit of writing then you must be at least a little interested in whatever that might turn out to be. For that I’m thankful. As for the epiphany that I can write what my soul needs to write, and not what those grumpy depression thoughts tell me I “should” be writing -- for that, I’m optimistic.