I suffered through a small depressive episode last night.
I think I felt over-exposed, after sharing some of my internal creative dialogue here, after this guest post (on depression and suicidal ideation) was published on The Mighty, and after The Videoblogs received a few bumps in attention.
On the surface, these are all good things. They also represent sincere efforts at helping others. Still, it is the curse of those so afflicted that even good things can kick up old fears and insecurities.
Except now I have a base of acceptance, understanding, and compassion that I can fall back on, when I’m having a tough night, or day, or week.
I’m still not feeling the best. It was tough to get out of bed this morning. I similarly didn’t feel like writing this.
But I have a lamp and my dog to help me. Let me explain.
I’m also, more importantly, married to someone who both understands mental illness and knows how to react compassionately when someone is struggling.
It started with some physical symptoms, that appeared on my way home. My body started to ache. I felt tired. I lost the energy to do much of anything. I eventually found myself standing, staring blankly, in the middle of the apartment.
My wife asked if I was okay. I talked to her. This is the first right thing I did — by telling the truth to someone I can trust.
I decided to lay down in bed. Sometimes, you just have to do that. It’s no different than if you have a cold.
Some time later, my wife came in and asked how I was feeling. Not much had changed. She gently suggested that lying alone in the dark might not be helping. I heard her, but didn’t want to move. She left to heat up dinner, and we talked about me joining her to eat and watch some TV.
After a few more minutes, the dog showed up.
It is well-documented how helpful a dog can be when you’re feeling down. I let her up into the bed. She seemed to want to play. It wasn’t long before we were playing a bit, and her joy lightened my mood.
I kept it up. During a lull, I thought about what my wife had said, and turned my bedside lamp on — at its dimmest setting. For the next several minutes, I continued to focus solely on the dog.
Eventually, it was time to eat, and I was able to get up and watch TV. I felt significantly better. Before bed, I journaled for a few minutes, as a means of (non-judgmentally) externalizing my feelings. I slept without too much trouble and had odd, but not entirely dark, dreams.
As I’ve mentioned, today has been less difficult, so far, though I’m still feeling somewhat…flat.
It helped that my wife gently nudged me this morning, when I was snoozing a bit, because she knew I wanted to get up and write. It furthered helped to turn on the living room lamp, to offset the predawn darkness, before I sit down to work. I do that every morning.
Finally, there’s the dog. Without fail, she settles in beside me while I write. She’s here right now.
These are touchstones of light and connection. It helps to turn to them when thoughts go dark and lonely. As for the rest of the day, I plan to take it easy. To stay in touch with people. To take care of myself.
Already, these things are working. Thanks for reading, and have a great day.
This is part twenty of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!
Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh
Day 05: On The Future of Labor
Day 07: The Word for World is Earth
Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder
Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo
Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit
Day 16: The Waiting Place
Day 18: How to Decide What to Make Next