I went back and read my blogs. I went back and read my posts. I went back and read my intentions, texts, emails, notes, reminders, carrier pigeons...
... and I got angry.
Why do you continue to set yourself up for failure? I thought to myself. Why must you insist on being all or nothing, perfect or unconscious, all in or none at all?
"Do you like yourself?" My therapist asks me this almost every week. I sit. I think. I get uncomfortable. I squirm around in my seat at the question, suddenly realizing how stuck my legs are to the leather of the chair and how my necklace feels against my skin.
"Do you understand that this is your depression and not you?" He makes a point to draw attention to the delusions I'm allowing to run my life. I quickly dive into every reason that he's wrong. That my depression is me.
Look, I've been depressed and anxious for the better part of 26 years. Sleeping half the day, chronic pain, complete apathy, no desire to do anything besides scroll through my phone and watch Netflix, that is my reality.
He replies, "I've seen you healthy. I've seen you function. I've seen you motivated."
"That wasn't me. That was some part I was playing for 5 or 6 months. That isn't the majority of my life."
"This is your depression." He repeated for the umpteenth time.
I fought. I battled. I insisted. I lost.
The lie is this: I am my depression. I do not experience joy, desire, or self-worth. I don't like anyone, I want to be alone. I function best in isolation and that's where I will keep myself. I do not understand why my friends are my friends nor do I understand why in the hell my husband married me.
The truth is this: even though it has been my reality for over 20 years and I only knew the feeling of wellness for a few months doesn't mean that I am my illness. Those months of joy, health, progress, and desire (no matter how small in time they seem), are proof that I am not my illness. I'm not even going to acknowledge the lie of my husband and friends because it's absurd and of my depression.
I had another session this week. I had been implementing a few lessons and felt better. The funny thing about mental illness is that when we feel bad, we feel bad, and when we feel good, we don’t remember how bad we felt. I had no complaints. I didn’t feel bad. I wasn’t in bed. I wasn’t missing life.
“You have to stay moving. You have to keep going. I don’t mean you have to burn out; sleep + rest are still part of the equation. I want you to picture your depressed self always following behind you. The more progress you make, the further ahead you are, but she will always catch up if you stop.”
If you aren’t motivated by ominous visualizations of your depressed self trying to overtake you, please ignore the last bit of imagery from my therapist. However, it helped me so very much.
I am not done, nor will I ever be done with the work I need to do to maintain a healthy life of progress. However, I have the tools, the resources, the support, and the understanding to stay ahead of her.
Even when I fall, I know it’s just for a season and I can get moving soon. Healing is not linear.