I didn’t anticipate writing this post and I’ve only put in about two minutes of forethought before opening my computer and pounding it out on the keyboard. I’m thinking as I write.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I briefly faded out of the mental health advocacy scene for about a month and a half. The distance from a cause I care deeply about wasn’t intentional, but after graduating and no longer being a part of any of my university’s mental health orgs that had kept me so busy, I felt like I had less of a platform to speak about mental health issues.
Additionally, the task of constantly learning about, defending, and advocating for things so closely connected to my own personal struggle was exhausting. The work that I did was gratifying in a lot of ways, but also triggering and defeating at times, and on a very personal level.
But tonight, I have things to say. Tonight, I am depressed.
Major Depressive Disorder – one of my diagnoses – is chronic, meaning it never truly goes away, even when I’m happy. Still, there are days when it barely affects me and I all but forget I have it. Then there are times, like now, when it practically takes over.
I felt okay throughout the day, but I attribute that feeling namely to how busy I was at work; jam-packing my schedule makes it easy for me to overlook changes in my own mental health because I spend my time so focused on other things. However, when I have a moment to myself, the net struggle of the day catches up and spills down on me like an avalanche. That’s what happened when I got off work today.
First, I felt anxious and hyperactive; my mind was going a mile a minute and I couldn’t focus on anything more more than a few minutes at a time. My day post-work was sporadic and disjointed. My impulses were clear and quick, but my thoughts were scrambled and slow.
The driving force behind the irregularities in behavior appeared in the form of anxiety. It wasn’t until I took note of my out-of-character thoughts and actions and consciously told myself to slow down and stay in control that I noticed the anxiety welling up from my core. With it came depression.
I crashed rapidly. My mind continued racing, but my body no longer had the capacity to move and work as it should. I lacked energy, but I wasn’t tired; I simply couldn’t command my body to do the simple things I needed it to do: eat something healthy, take a shower.
I finally willed myself out of bed and managed to slice and eat a peach. The sweet yellow fruit awakened my body enough for me to throw on a pair of flip-flops and hop in the shower. Initially, the warm water felt good on my back and neck, but my energy depleted halfway through. I walked back to my room, damp and worn out.
Yet, after many years of fighting this familiar battle, I forced myself to do what I knew would be “good” for me. I peeled a clementine and returned a missed call to my mom. I grabbed a water bottle and climbed in bed.
Sometimes, I don’t have the energy to do any of the above, so I was proud of myself for recognizing the need for self-care and administering it with patience and realistic expectations of what I could and couldn’t handle. Tonight’s self-care did not come in the form of yoga or coloring books or bath bombs – it was simple and unglamorous and not Instagram-perfect – but it was everything I needed in the moment.