I took a lot of time off the last week.
With P out of town, I hunkered down for the weekend and watched hours and hours of Netflix. I took naps. After my bad knee gave out on me Saturday, I even had a reason!
The outside-my-body-voice was monitoring the situation, asking if I was sliding back into a major depressive episode. I have felt nostalgic and a bit sad the past couple of weeks. Friends in my hometown are having babies, buying homes, and I want to be there for those things. I’ve had many days where all I can think is that I need my mom’s advice. The winter is coming, and I am hoping that my internship will let me pick up more hours when the semester ends, as I can’t have a month of down time without spiraling.
Am I already spiraling?
What I’ve learned about depression is that you have to be ever-vigilant. And I haven’t been exercising, which is key for my mental health. And I’ve spent a lot of time alone. An alcoholic does not go into bars, if they want to remain sober. Similarly, I need to commit to stay ahead of the spiral.
I think I needed this weekend off before the real craziness of the semester hits me. But then sometimes I wonder if I am just lazy. Or maybe I will always struggle with depression. And it’s scary because I see evidence throughout my life, starting around age 6, that this is the case. But when I have good stretches, it’s easy to think it’s over. But I have to believe that it never will be, in order to hold it at bay. It’s a strange thought experiment.
I’ve been weighing a big decision heavily during this weekend of solitude. I keep thinking, “Once I decide, then I’ll be happy.” But I know that isn’t true. I think of my clients, refugees, who can’t do much to change their circumstances. And yet, they find a way to rebuild. And my situation is nowhere as precarious and traumatic as theirs. I need to find a way to be happy today. And I backslid this past week.
At the end of one of my favorite plays, Our Town, Emily asks, “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?” The answer, actually, is tattooed on my arm. This struggle to appreciate the present has been a constant for me. My arm, and Thornton Wilder, respond to Emily with, “The saints and poets, maybe–they do some.”
I used to think that depression meant you could not “realize life.” But now I think that maybe, we realize it too much. Maybe that’s the trouble.
By Mary-Margaret Sweeney
SJS Student Liason
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