anecdotes and reflections on life with depression and anxiety
A few months ago, when it was still summer and the days were still warm, I sat in a grassy nook just above a sandy beach, staring at the waves and the moored boats bobbing in place over the dark blue ocean. No one had settled in near me, so I was quietly reading and often looking up at the waves, feeling simple gratitude for living in such a beautiful place.
This local spot is one of my happiest, most peaceful places, and yet -- in the midst of being in a favorite place with a favorite companion (a book, obviously) -- my bed called out for me. I had worked a full eight hours indoors on this perfect June day, itching for three o'clock to arrive so I could fly out the door and down the road to be here, in the sunshine and gentle breeze. And yet -- the tousled covers of my unmade bed, the scrunched up pillows and twisted top sheet were calling to me. Even from here.
Why? Why does my old, sagging mattress reach out for me, even on a good mental health day, a gorgeous summer afternoon, after a productive work day and with the whole evening at my disposal? Why can't I get the idea out of my mind that I would rather be in bed?
It's not that I'm sleepy and just want to close my eyes -- I have no qualms about doing that here in the park, where the sun warms my skin and the waves lapping nearby make a perfect naptime soundtrack. I want to be here, at the beach, in the summertime, just like everyone else.
I've even intentionally set myself up with an early work schedule so that I can have the afternoons and evenings free. I like to read, to have time for a walk or the gym, to do summery recreational things, you know, like going to the beach. As I wake up in the mornings I anticipate all the things I can accomplish after work -- the farmer's market!! Coffee with a friend! The book waiting on my Kindle! -- and yet, as soon as the three o'clock hour rolls around (and sometimes even sooner than that), I can't help but feel drawn to the comfort and safety of my bed.
Not my couch. Not my dining room table. Not the warmth and familiarity of just being home. I long entirely, and specifically, for my bed.
The answer, I think, is simple: it's depression. It makes me tired, and unmotivated, and sometimes, it teams up with its ugly friend anxiety to make me hesitant to leave the house. It doesn't have to be a bad day or even a so-so day. It can be a good day, a productive day, and yet still I will be tired, still I will be tempted to crawl into my bed and read, or cuddle my cat, or just lay there until I fall asleep. Even while I'm doing things I love, there is often -- if not always -- a sense that it would be better just to be home in bed.
Is bed my happy place? Do I just like naps? Should I accept laziness and complacency as foundations of who I am, and embrace all the time I like to spend horizontal, particularly in this one very specific (and isolating) place?
Or is this the force of mental illness, even on the decent days making me believe I need to stick to what's safe and known, rather than venture out to even the most ordinary activities? Making me feel that nothing in the outside world is as fulfilling, or as worthy of my time and energy, than sinking into a pile of blankets and shutting out everything else? Making me feel that I might not deserve to be out in the world doing normal human things, because in my bed, alone, is where I belong?
I choose to believe the latter. Because depression lies, and daily it tells me that I don't deserve to do the fun stuff of life. It tells me I'd rather be in bed, and I have to challenge that distorted thinking every day, so that I don't miss out on life.
Depression will always tell me lies, but some days the sunshine and sea breeze can carry them away, just for a little while. Some days, can be enough.
oh, hey --
My name is Lauren. I'm thirty-something, and I like to take naps and read good books and watch bad television. I love my husband and I love my cat, and I live with depression and anxiety, which is mostly what you'll read about here.