(I wrote this article in November of last year. At the time, I was experiencing SSRI withdrawal and realizing that my mind is much better on medication. I thought I would share these thoughts, as they were written in a more vulnerable time in my journey and might help others who are as well. I’ve picked up where I left off, and I will let you know when it switches to present day.)
For everyone who struggles with depression, anxiety, or any form of mental illness, you know what it’s like. Things hurt mentally and emotionally and it often turns physical. We find ourselves curled up in bed and on couches for what could be days on end. The seemingly simple activities, such as showering or eating, seem as daunting as climbing a tall mountain. I know what it’s like. When things get hard for me, I seek solace in blanket upon blanket (the more weight to get lost under, the better) and as many mindless TV shows and movies I can get my hands on to distract myself.
I know it must be the same, if not worse, for so many of you.
The frustrating thing is that we aren’t planning on this inactivity. We aren’t enthusiastically choosing this stagnant life. I will admit that there are days I am plenty happy to be lazy, to stay in pajamas for as long as I can, to watch Netflix marathons and get fast food or take out. That’s lazy to me. There’s still a planning to it. It might be a plan to do nothing, but you’ve chosen that course for the day. When I’m doing well, I get stir-crazy, and lazy doesn’t agree with me all day. I eventually need fresh air, to walk around (even if it’s just going to Target or something like that), to DO SOMETHING.
For those who don’t understand depression (or any form of mental illness that can’t be seen and, therefore, can’t be believed), us sufferers seem lazy. We don’t want to work. We don’t want to go out and be social. We don’t want to change our clothes for the fifth day in a row. We don’t care if our hair is greasy or we smell. We care about nothing and everything all at once, and it’s overwhelming. We just want to sit and sleep and be left alone.
It finally hit me that a lot of the times that I’ve been considered lazy were because of my depression and anxiety. As someone who lived with a mother who let these illnesses cripple her to the point of not leaving the house for years, I know how easy it is to fall into that pattern when things have crumbled. I work (sooo hard, I should add) on getting out of bed. I convince myself that a shower will feel good, that I will feel confident when I see myself clean. But I see how she allowed it to happen. When you are suffering, the things you need the most (medication, exercise, healthy diet, a support group or therapy) are the hardest things to get, to do, to understand. It is a vicious cycle.
All of this is already complicated. It’s hard enough to express the feelings and thoughts or the general weight of what you’re going through…but add the misunderstandings of those around you, the people who want to call you lazy? Talk about kicking someone when they are down.
When I go through these troublesome moments, trapped in the pit with very little upper body strength to dig my way up, I’m not happy about it. I’m not like “Yay! Bed again, because everything else seems so incredibly daunting that even a walk to the kitchen for fresh water sounds like the hardest thing to do!” From the outside, it’s all “What do you care? You just lay in bed all day? DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE!” So all of the things that were already bothering me are amplified by 1000x because I’m a miserable person and I’m seen as someone without motivation, goals, dreams, hopes, wishes. I am wasting my life. And why don’t I just fix it?
(The rest has been finished recently…)
I love my boyfriend. He is the one who first motivated me to get on medication when my anxiety went from nagging thoughts to crippling fears. He’s calmed me during some seriously scary times. He makes me laugh. Only recently, he has started to realize the difference between depression and laziness. He is still frustrated with me, though, when I can’t just shake a mood that comes on without rhyme or reason. I told him about this post idea and he was fine with me talking about his misunderstanding. I think that when I explained it to him, it helped open his mind a little more.
Since I first wrote this post, I have gone back on a smaller dose of a different SSRI. The improvements were quite sudden. The dark clouds lifted. My sudden fits of rage and hopelessness lessened. I felt stronger. Generally, I’m doing well. Still.
Lately, I’ve been having some anxiety. The change of seasons, even if it is seemingly good (from frigid and bare to warm and blooming), always seems to affect me. The thought of doing things got hard again. Full disclosure: I went without a shower from this past Thursday night to Monday afternoon. 3 whole days. Could be worse, but obviously it could be better. I just couldn’t do it. Brad gave me a pep talk. He suggested that we get out of the house a little bit, do some grocery shopping, enjoy the sunshine. I swayed back and forth, wanting to lay on the couch and binge-watch Community more than anything.
Today, I woke up from nightmares that touched on some anxiety-triggering fears of mine. Instead of wanting to wake up and start the day, to move away from that, I wanted to stay in bed, to fall back asleep, to have new dreams and run away from the ones that would torment me for most of the day. I didn’t want the anxiety to stand a chance, and sleep was the way to kill it. But I had a shower to take, work to get to…I had to try my best.
I’ve realized that I have thoughts lingering in my mind that need attention. In the madness and change of moving and settling into a new home, I had easily been able to distract myself. Now the thoughts are busting out. I decided to create two separate To-Do lists. One has things I want to do on it, such as weaving another finished piece on my lap loom, writing a blog post (because obviously that suffered a little), and painting my nails. The other had important things: Pay this bill, rewrite my budget, do the massive pile of laundry that has spilled onto the floor. I felt more in control after doing this.
There are still tasks to check off, but realizing what needed to be done made a huge difference.
Part of me is nervous about posting this because I probably sound like I’m making excuses for the times I’ve stayed home instead of going out, for sleeping in instead of rushing to start the day. I guess that’s the way it will always seem and that’s why it’s so unfortunate. Maybe I sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about. Each depression is different. Some worse, some more tolerable.
I’m just sharing what I’ve been through in the hopes that people can know they are never, ever alone and that those who want to know more gain some understanding.
Now I’m off to watch Community and lay down on the couch…because I want to. :)