I’ve had a rough few days, but you might not know that. The quote in the image above is something I’ve thought a lot about lately. The sentiment isn’t new to me, but I hadn’t seen it put that way until this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, when someone tweeted it. There were scores of wonderful tweets about mental health, but that’s the one that legitimately brought tears to my eyes.
Over the last couple days, I’ve gotten a lot done. I’ve been productive, active, and involved with those around me. I applied for jobs. I recorded podcasts. I exercised. I cooked and cleaned. I also spent some interesting time looking at myself from the outside (as much as that’s possible), and I realized I mostly looked like a happy-go-lucky contributing member of society.
And I was.
On the outside. Continue reading
I got some bad news today. I’m not going into detail because it’s not my news, but it’s health-related and regarding someone close to me. That gives enough context for the kind of helpless fear that’s got a hold of me right now.
In a weird way, the timing was excellent.* You see, last night Steven and I did something we hadn’t done in probably well over a year–we played a board game together.
I’d been having a so-so weekend (due to factors unrelated to the lousy news), and I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do on the eve of the work week. (That in itself was making me more anxious than I like.) I’d been listening to episode 24 of Unjustly Maligned, in which Cory Casoni defends the board game Monopoly. It made me nostalgic for the days when my siblings and I played board games all the time.
We played LOTS of board games. As a family with limited means, games were perfect. They were cheapish and provided hours of re-playable fun. When one of us was home sick from school, Mom often let one of the other kids stay home to keep the sickie company. And that always meant board games–endless rounds of Life, Sorry, Careers, Chutes and Ladders, and, of course, Monopoly.
So yeah, board games conjure up a sense of comfort and safety and being-cared-for. That’s a difficult feeling to capture these days. I’d forgotten just how good it felt. Last night I got a reminder.
I’ve talked before about some of my coping mechanisms for dealing with mental health issues: how I remind myself depression lies, how I use jigsaw puzzles to calm my anxious mind, how I focus on the good stuff. One other thing I do is try to harness my mental weirdness and use it for good when I can. I have more than a touch of obsessive-compulsiveness. Happily, it’s not enough to interfere much with my daily life. In fact, I’ve found a way to trick my compulsive brain into working for me instead of against me.
The key is randomness.
No. There are two keys: randomness and dice.
“Depression lies.” I’d never thought about depression in those terms until I started reading Wil Wheaton’s blog,* but it’s so true. It’s not just that the feelings (or lack thereof) that accompany a bout of depression (often with a healthy side-helping of anxiety) are temporary, it’s that they’re not true.
The awful patina of dread that accompanies pretty much every action when I’m depressed is real, yes. But it’s not true. There’s a subtle, yet important, difference. There’s no question the feeling is real. It exists. I can’t get around that. I’m stuck smack dab in the middle of it. And yet somewhere, deep inside where I can’t find it anymore, I really am happy about all the amazing stuff in my life.
I have the best, most supportive partner I can imagine, a family I love and can rely on, a group of friends who are second to none, a job I enjoy and am good at, and several podcasts I am incredibly proud of. I couldn’t be happier! Except that when depression comes calling, I’m not. Or at least, I can’t remember that I am. It’s crazy how knowing something and feeling it are two completely separate things.
So when I do hit a rough patch, Continue reading