I’m here to tell you that there is no end-all be-all fix to mental illness. In some ways, as I’ve been taking off and discarding old layers of myself, I find even more that I need to address.
It’s depressing, quite literally.
I only have so much time in a day, and so much energy to spend. It’s not infinite, and just because you get a hysterectomy and a new job and new title doesn’t mean you don’t still have the Sunday Scaries and anxiety and middle-of-the-night to-do lists running around in your mind.
This seemed a dreary and wasted life for a girl with fifteen years of straight A’s..”“The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath
It doesn’t mean that you get to just not adult, however awesome that sounds. Dishes still need to be done, laundry still needs washed, and the only thing I’m really comfortable hiring out is cleaning my floors and bathrooms once every six weeks. It helps, at least. (It was a present to myself when I got this new job.)
For some reason I thought I would have more “bandwidth” come last fall, and in some ways I did. But it was quickly taken up with learning a new job, continuing to upskill, and building relationships with literally hundreds of new people.
It all really just comes down to the human condition in America – work, cook dinner, sleep, repeat. Yes, cooking dinner doesn’t take eight hours like working and sleeping do, but with the ever-present question “What’s for dinner?” in my head it certainly feels like it.
Anyway, my mental health is not so great right now. I admit it. Something was switched off when our old dog Missy died in March. (She was 14 and went downhill quickly – unfortunately we had to make the decision to send her over Rainbow Bridge.)
But despite working through that grief and adopting another dog about a month ago, I’m depressed.
I’ve been trying to wrack my brain to figure out what the hell I can do to shake it. I’m working out as regularly as I can manage with a busy travel schedule. I’m eating a lot of protein. I’m drinking water. I’m avoiding alcohol. I’m still taking time to do my hobbies, like this blog, and journaling, and reading. I’m even taking Zoloft, prescribed by my doctor to see if it’ll help. (It is, I’m sleeping better at least, but I haven’t been on an antidepressant since my college days.)
What the heck is wrong?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit mad and frustrated with myself. A year ago I went through major surgery. I made a huge career shift from the work I’ve been doing since I graduated college 15 years ago. And I still feel like this. But I think partly that’s because the anticipation of big life events sometimes feels more like hope than the events themselves.
Dumpling’s dad taught her that the glass is half full; mine taught me that the glass is totally full—of whiskey.“The Smell of Other People’s Houses” by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Some days I have to tell myself to not take myself so seriously. I had the worst case of the Mondays this morning – just absolutely dismal thoughts. Of course, once I arrived at the office and got started with my day, I felt much better. It felt good to feel useful, I guess.
It creeps in when I want to be relaxing, and that is one of the most frustrating things. I cannot tell you how much having these horrible feelings feels when this is my time to relax. It robs me of the joy and contentment I want to have in these few hours between adulting and bed.
I’m spinning my wheels and spending energy to figure out how I can fix it, and I think I just need to let it be. Not that I will give in to every desire to sleep in and eat trash, but I need to just accept that this is what it is right now, and that I’ll come out of it.