I don’t want to jinx it.
As I build my life with the depression, I know the path is not straight. Yet for most of this past week, I have felt human. I have felt almost in control. I have felt a lot like me.
That is exciting and frightening at the same time. I know that in the past I have had days, months, even years without any visible signs of depression. There have been day to day hurdles, but I was able to leap them without the depression.
And then there have been weeks, months, yes even years, where the depression has been in control. 1977 was my “lost year.” And there have been other long stretches where I concealed the depression, but it was clearly in control.
So, as I recover from this “mother of all depressions,” I am painfully aware that it is not over. There will be challenges waged by the depression. Unhelpful thinking will rear its ugly head and try to get me on board. It will try to suck me back into the secret hidden world of depression.
How do I live my life knowing depression is still there?
I will not spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. There must be ways that I can keep this under control without spending all my time worrying about when I will start to crash. That way of living feels like not really living.
I have been told that this takes time. I shouldn’t expect everything to be figured out right now. And I do understand that. Looking back at what I wrote the first week I was out of the hospital, I can see how far I have come.
I did not get this far to surrender to depression.
As I learn how to live after acknowledging the depression, my goal is to really live. To be in control, to ask better questions, to understand the impulsive behaviors I have exhibited and do better. This makes me feel happy. Knowing that I am learning the tools to do that for myself, that is the definition of self-care.
I have balked at using that word. It seems to be selfish. But then, it is. And that’s the point. Whatever I call it, taking care of myself needs to be a focus. I must allow myself to see that as valuable. I need to make it a habit, just like brushing my teeth.
Self-care is the new normal.
I need to embrace this, not think of it as an after-thought. So far, I am using self-care as a when I get around to it activity. I am not focused on it as a daily, must do type of program. Incorporating this into my daily routine will accelerate my recovery and accelerate my ability to keep depression from being my boss.
Why is this hard to think about?
I know I have activities that I enjoy. Yesterday, I spent time putting up my grape arbor. I had gotten the plants last fall. I put them in the ground with the idea I would build an arbor over them, using the local wineries designs as a model.
Last fall, depression decided I wasn’t going to do that.
So, my newest plantings were on their own. I did finally put tomato cages around the grape vines this spring, so they would have something to climb until I built the arbor. And that was all they had until yesterday when I felt up to doing the work, I had planned out in my head months ago.
I think it came out well. And the time I took to dig the holes, level the posts, drill the holes for the wire, and string it through was well worth it. It was fun. It was, for me, self-care.
I have always enjoyed working in the yard. Whether we had a tiny lot or the five acres we have now, getting outside has always been invigorating. It helps me recharge my batteries. I know that it is healthy for me on several levels. The sun, the fresh air, the physical work, along with getting my mind cleared are some of the benefits I enjoy.
Getting back to doing things is exhilarating.
But why am I still thinking that it won’t last? Is it too soon to be over this episode? Is that even the best way to think about depression? I have started a list of questions I want to ask at my next appointment with my therapist. Perhaps he can help me better frame how I should think about this.
I am adamant that I don’t want my new normal to be looking over my shoulder. I want it to be open, transparent, full of life. I want to do, but not in a secret, impulsive way. I want to be full of life and enjoy smelling the roses. After all, I do grow roses. And other flowers. So, the least I can do is stop and smell them, to cut some for the table, to enjoy how they brighten up the yard.
So, the question of the day is, how can I not jinx it?
How can I frame my life so that I am doing things in a healthy way, while still staying vigilant against the depression? I am sure that as I learn more skills, more tools, I will have a clearer idea of how to do this.
I am encouraged by the progress I have made.
Up against the wall is fading. The anticipation of the coming day is replacing it. While I am still white-knuckled about the outcome, I see where I have been and where I can go. This leaves me moving forward, doing things again. I want this to be my new normal.
What does your day look like? Your comments are appreciated.