January 18, 2011

Today was almost a total waste. I spent most of the day lying on the floor and watching TV while my son played around me. I didn't even have the presence of mind to actually look for a show that would spark my interest, so I zoned out to The Cat in the Hat. I struggled to do anything. By the time my husband came home at 5:30, I had managed to wash one load of clothes--pitiful for someone who stays home all day.

So I decided not to let the evening go to waste, too. After cooking dinner and washing the dishes, I decided to mop the kitchen floor. And then I realized I hadn't mopped the kitchen floor since we moved into our house. In October. And, boy, did it show. There were sticky bits of food everywhere. I had to scrape most of it up by hand. I was embarrassed to realize I had let it get so bad. I am normally a clean person.

And then, right as I finished, I magically felt better. Looking at the gleaming floor filled me with an amazing sense of accomplishment--not that I had earned a Ph.D. or a Pulitzer, but that I had finally stopped procrastinating and done something that directly benefited myself and my family. I could walk across the floor without crumbs sticking to my socks or feeling lumps under my feet. I could let William crawl on it. The kitchen looked brighter, smelled fresher. I felt more energized than I had in weeks.

It seems odd that something so small and insignificant could make such a difference, but it does. Looking around and seeing things dirty and disorganized takes a toll on a person's psyche. A clean, beautiful space soothes and inspires. I've learned that depression often operates on a negative feedback cycle: a person feels depressed and procrastinates, tasks are left undone, person feels bad about undone tasks, depression worsens, person procrastinates further, and so on. After a while, a person becomes a prisoner in her own mind, crippled, hardly able to function. At that point, breaking the cycle can seem overwhelming and impossible. But once a person takes the first step, the weight can lift quickly.

So if anyone out there can relate, mop a dirty floor and see how you feel afterward. It might just be the simplest thing you can do to help yourself.

Thanks, dear readers, for all of the wonderful comments and support you have given me in the past two weeks. It is appreciated.

10 Things I Hate about Depression

January 10, 2011

10. Nothing's happening.

At least, it feels like nothing's happening, because I don't want to do anything. Even when I manage to accomplish something, like washing the dishes or straightening the house, all I seem to see are the dozen other tasks that are left undone.

9. You suck.

I can't handle other people's problems or grouchiness. I just don't have the empathy.

8. I don't understand.

I don't understand how I can be on the verge of manic one minute, and practically crying in my soup the next. I don't understand how screwing up a simple meatball dinner can nearly send me over the edge. I don't understand how feeling sad can make me obnoxious and vengeful.

7. These walls are getting old.

I've almost forgotten what outside looks like. I'd love to go somewhere on my own, but I can't muster the effort.

6. Sleep is for the sane.

Even when I do get a full night's sleep, I still crave more.

5. Every song is a sad song.

I just want to listen to the radio without wanting to put my fist through a window. Is that too much to ask?

4. Here we go again.

It's always the same crap: same issues, same thoughts, same emotions--the ones I always think I have dealt with weeks/months/years before.

3. Emotional constipation.

I feel like crying at all the wrong times, and then don't. I've spent entire days feeling weepy and getting nowhere.

2. Everybody suffers.

You, me, my son. His first birthday is in three days, and I haven't done anything to plan a party. I feel like a terrible mother.

1. Entire years of my life have possibly drained away at this point.

I'm 28 and feel like I have little to show for it. Sometimes I think I've spent my entire life this way. I have to get help.

An Eve of Mourning

January 1, 2011

It is a new year. Normally, I would be celebrating. I like new things, including years. It's a chance to leave the past behind and make a fresh start. It's a time to make new goals and look forward to exciting possibilities.

I sorely wish that were true this year.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, the past came back to bite my family. The fallout has been devastating, and the situation continues to unravel, even if slowly. At times when I think it couldn't possibly get any worse, it does. Right now, I honestly don't know if I could be any more frustrated. Grief has me in a vise. All I want to do is sleep and stare at the walls. I'm lost in an anxious fog. I'm powerless, and I don't know how to cope. If it seems I have been remiss in my writerly duties, this is why. My mind can hardly form a thought.

The only bright spot has been my son, who knows no grief. He is getting close to his first birthday now, and he is rapidly transitioning from babyhood to boyhood. About a month ago, he came off the bottle completely and started taking liquids through a straw. He feeds himself with amazing dexterity, and will eat just about anything. He can play peek-a-boo with me by raising and lowering a blanket in front of his face. We can spend the day playing games, and he loves every minute. He is here, in this form, for such a time as this. I don't know how I'd stay sane any other way.

He simply embodies happiness.

Eventually, I will have to make a decision about my family as far as what my relationship with them will be. That decision will depend on what happens in the next few weeks and months--and what I work out in counseling. As of now, though, it is not a new year for me. It is just the turn of the calendar, a strike of the clock. The sense of newness has been tarnished. Forgive me.