Here’s a run down of things I’ve cried over the past week: baby cows and when I’m getting to see them, a bin bag splitting because I didn’t get “the good bags” and lest we forget – the god damn global pandemic. Good afternoon folks, it’s your friend on the internet – and I don’t know about you but eh – let’s say things have certainly been better.
I know the world doesn’t need another angsty white women pedaling her trauma into the void and I’m not quite sure I want to continue giving away slivers of my sadness to try feel whole. It is a zero sums game and I’ve long checked out of the emotional devastation Olympics that come with being online and very publicly talking about mental health. And I’m not here to suggest going for a walk because “nature is the only drug you need” or that yoga is going to miraculously set my soul alight when getting out of bed and washing my hair feels like the height of effort. I write because it’s how I’ve always made sense of how I was feeling and my own thought processes. And among the conversations online about mental health I don’t want to be reminded that it’s okay to not be okay because while intellectually I know that, of course I do – it quite frankly makes me feel pathetic and angry and impossibly more alone. All in all – very light, very frothy – very standard scream in the abyss stuff right?
Everyone you’ve ever met has a different impression of you – coward, confidante, old romantic, cynic and for me “someone who used to be depressed” has become so intwined with my online identity (Christ – I didn’t just get the t-shirt, I designed it) that the idea of backsliding in to the big bad feels like it comes with additional baggage. You know the whole “she got better.” The victory lap kind of rings hollow if you’re finding yourself staring at the ceiling again. For the last few years the story I’ve told has hit all the familiar beats; I was depressed and then I wasn’t, I took medication, I went to therapy. It was a thing that happened and I got out the other side. If I kept repeating the same gentle thrum then it would eventually ring true. That if I kept time the steady rhythm my own mythology would become incontestable, unquestionable fact. And it worked for a while. And then it didn’t.
Depression isn’t a definer but it’s certainly something I’m prone to which feels – I’m not sure? Disappointing? Like a failure? Familiar enough to have a sense of déjà vu even if the sensation of it isn’t quite exactly the same. Less the siren song that is the call of the void and more akin to quicksand. Or maybe like a really sad fun house mirror. Whatever over eked out metaphor you like – it might not be like the last bout but not distorted enough to not be identifiable. I was (am) apathetic, angry and tired and feel so betrayed by my own mind when this emotional deadening some how feels unearned. It’s good that some things remain the same isn’t it?
I mean if you want a nice soundbite – “healing isn’t linear” – is probably far more concise than an emotional stream of consciousness. But as uncomfortable as I am with the whole “mental health” thing I also think it’s important to talk about it not always looking the same. The wolf can be at your door or in your bed, it still has teeth. And depression doesn’t have to mean that I’m lying in an unmade bed for weeks on end (that was fun) or going out to avoid being in my own head (a real whistle stop tour of not coping over here) – it can also mean going to work and doing the “things” in your adult check list (because your fine, see you did the thing – could a depressed person do this?) So how do you deal with the old familiar scratch?
I like lists. Without lists and plans and structure there’s me staring into the ether, yet another episode of “This is Us” starting to play in the background. When I feel like I’m bsinking I set very small goals – stick a load of washing on, brush your teeth, take the bins out – and get to work. This regimented approach isn’t exactly glamourous and look there’s nothing less sexy than having to set reminders on how to cross the basic bar for functioning but quite frankly it’s setting up scaffolding. It doesn’t make it better over night but when I feel betrayed by my own mind finding any source of systems and control helps me find the rhythm once more. And it’s hard. Like, really hard. It’s difficult to reach out when there’s a bit of well – everything going on and you don’t want to be a burden right? And like, you can’t be that bad cause you’re alright right? Totally. Fine.
What’s the take away here then folks? We’re going through a mental health crisis? Check. That your mental health isn’t always going to look or feel the same? Sure thing. To invest in a decent biro and notepad? If that’s your thing. We all have different ways of processing. There’s some incredible online resources out there – whether you want to talk or type. If you are in the incredibly fortunate position to be able to privately fund your own therapy I thoroughly recommend councelling-direcotry.org.uk for finding someone that offers the kind of therapy you like with transparent pricing for both remote and in person sessions. Small actions can sometimes be like learning to breathe again after being under water for too long, or clumsily trying to find the beat to an old forgotten song. You’re bound to hit a few bum notes but you’ll find your way back or create a new rhythm to keep time to.