Brain Weasels

Depression walloped me yesterday. I had a short case of the sad and lonelies on Sunday afternoon, but getting out of the apartment for a bit and being around other people helped. Monday night I was supposed to go to chorus rehearsal but instead I sat at home medicating the anxiety that popped up late morning. So when I woke up yesterday feeling that sense of doom hanging over me, the darkness enveloping my brain, all I could find the words to say was that I felt “bad” inside.

Because that’s how it feels inside my head and body. A sense of something dark deep inside me that is growing sinisterly. Last week when I saw my psychiatrist, I mentioned that my sleep had been really off for a bit, but I had just come back home from a trip to the west coast and we both kind of chocked it up to my brain having difficulty adjusting to the time change. And I was optimistic that things would improve soon, once I got over the jet lag, I would bounce back. Except that’s not what happened.

I went through the motions yesterday. I got exercise riding my bicycle seven and a half miles to my weekly therapy appointment. I went to therapy and was honest with my therapist about how I felt. I forced myself to eat three times. I went to Tai Chi. But every single step that day was forced. Nothing came easily. My therapist reminded me that depression does this, makes everything feel impossibly hard. I feel like I’m carrying a huge weight alone, uphill, in a blizzard. I can’t see where I’m going, I’m cold and lonely and tired, and every step feels harder than the last.

Today I met with a friend to get groceries for dinner. I took the bus a few miles into the next city over from mine, walked through the aisles of the grocery store trying to find ingredients for dinner tonight and tomorrow. I bought the box of dinosaur-shaped macaroni and cheese to eat someday when my appetite returns because it was cute and hey, dinosaurs! I paid for my groceries and got back on the bus to go home with my two light-ish bags and I felt a tiny bit better. The company helped and I was being productive. Then I realized I’d forgotten to do something minor yesterday when my brain was fuzzed from depression and immediately started to catastrophize. “You are a horrible person.” “Everyone hates you anyway.” “What’s the point in trying?” my brain told me on a loop. I unwisely got on the internet and looked at the state of the world and felt powerless and angry and bad. And then I apologized to a friend for my error and corrected it so it no longer existed. My friend was very kind and told me how not a horrible person I was. My cat sat in my lap. I lay on our beanbags under my weighted blanket. And you know, things still suck, but they suck a little bit less.

And that’s the way life goes. I’m trying to practice radical acceptance that as a person with recurring severe depression, this is just a part of my life. To acknowledge that the dark times are going to come and eventually fade away and brighter days will come. And even though I may not want my life to exist this way, I don’t have total control over this and my life is still worth living. I have people who care about me. I am loved. And even if I didn’t manage to get my laundry done today, I did enough and that counts.

(Image Description: Me lying reclined on two brightly colored beanbag chairs, under a weighted blanket with polka dots on it. I’m reading a book – So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo – with my cat lying near me)

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