You can’t do as much as everyone else, and you don’t understand why. You get tired. You can’t focus. You’re easily overwhelmed. You beat yourself up for being so lazy and immature.
You want, more than anything, to be like everyone else.
I’ve experienced normal. I know what it’s like to work when the sun is up and sleep when everyone else sleeps. I’ve made it to dinner without needing a nap. I’ve lived normal, and it is wonderful. Few things in life have left me quite as euphoric as normal.
And then the weariness begins to seep back in.
I find myself needing a nap and losing two to three hours in an afternoon. I lie awake at two in the morning, unable to stop my brain from whirring. I make lists and then remake them in an attempt to make up for the things I just couldn’t get done. I lose myself for hours in mindless distractions and the very idea of completing even the most simple tasks becomes both a crushing weight and muddling fog.
No, I plead with the darkness. No. I’m fixed now. No.
I have been clinging to normal for the last weeks, quietly, so as not to draw attention to my defect. I don’t know how to describe this internal fight to hold on to normal, except to say that is a delicate balancing act between refusing to acknowledge the monster that’s trying to break in and firing whatever tiny weapons you have at your disposal. Sleep when you’re tired to avoid fatigue. Lower your expectations. Drink more water today.
Half of you is holding on while the other half is trying not to get swallowed up, and you’re cheeks are sore from the forced smile that says I. am. normal.
I’ve already changed medications. Twice. I have been depressed, not depressed, and depressed again. If I am already broken again, then it is laziness and personality flaws and not chemical imbalances. It is my fault, then, and not something to be accepted and dealt with.
I cannot be depressed again.
You either snap or let go.
I let go.
Clean slate. Restart. Reboot.
- Follow up appointment with the doctor to discuss timing of doses, because I take two pills a day instead of one in order to save $100 a month. I resolve to set the alarm on my phone every. single. day. to ensure I’m taking my medication at the right time.
- Stop eating whatever, whenever. Pretty good is not good enough. Six balanced meals a day, just like I did for 12 weeks. Set another alarm on my phone to ensure I’m having that mid-morning snack I’ve been skipping.
- Move my ass. Alternate between morning cardio and morning strength training, even if I only have time for push ups, sits ups and other freebie calisthenics in my living room.
- Step away from the computer. After an hour of writing, find something else to do for a few minutes. Walk around the block, make the bed, meditate or call my husband to say hello. Anything that unplugs the brain from the matrix.
A few days pass without a nap, and the darkness slinks back into the closet.
This is not normal.
I know that. I know that there are people, lots of people, who don’t need to do a perfect dance with medication, food, exercise and rest. They don’t have to think about how they’re treating their bodies or their minds, and both just do what they are supposed to do. I am in awe of these people and their low maintenance bodies and I will probably always be jealous of the freedom they have, much like my envy of people who can smoke when they drink without becoming slaves to an addiction.
But I have to accept that I can’t function that way.
My body and brain are not, for whatever reason, that kind of normal. This is my normal. And every time I try to pretend that isn’t the case, I will slip down the rabbit hole.
This is what my depression looks like. It is real and constant and bigger than a pill. But it is, thank God, manageable – as long as I can accept it. You can’t manage what you’re trying to ignore.
This is my normal.
This is my acceptance.