During my most recent depressive episode, one of my hobbies involved sitting in front of a window on a rainy day while listening to a sad song, which forced me to confront how horrible and worthless I felt. Inevitably, the tears would flow and I’d trick myself into accepting this activity as a healthy form of purging and not at all as self-destructive as it sounds. Facing emotions head on and then releasing them by crying were both actions frequently touted as mature forms of *doing the work*, *self-care* or other trendy buzzwords used to describe the act of dealing with one’s shit. But now that I’m treating my depression with medication, I have zero interest in wallowing. And as a recovering pity party addict, it’s honestly the weirdest shit I’ve ever experienced.
The day I sat down to write this post, it was rainy and cold, which to me, is the most loathsome weather ever. Sure, I can wear all the cute BCBG sweaters I bought during an(other) emotional shopping trip, but aside from that, this gloomy season has routinely exacerbated my depression for the past decade. I’ve generally dealt with seasonal depression by exercising, eating healthy and keeping myself busy, among other tools I’ve picked up along the way, but surprise – none of those efforts at saving myself from myself proved foolproof. When September arrived, I was already struggling to cope with personal issues, dwindling income, freelancer burnout and a bunch of other pain-in-the-ass life events, and then, it happened: I started to feel that unwelcome familiar presence creeping in on me. By the time my birthday rolled around in October, I was a full-fledged disheveled mess, the upkeep of my house, my interest in working and socializing, my hygiene, my daily workouts and my will to live all completely abandoned and polluting the atmosphere like the pile of dirty dishes in my kitchen sink.
Two days after my birthday, I picked my sister up from the airport at 7:30 am and immediately pointed out how clean my car was, hoping it would help to distract from the fact that my house was in total disarray. The night before her arrival, I only managed three hours of sleep because depression maintains a white-knuckled grip on insomnia, much like a possessive kid clings to a beloved toy.
Ultimately, her candid assessment of my crumbling mental state and all the emotional shit that went down during her visit forced me to deal with the fact that I needed more help than workout routines and NutrilBullet shakes could offer. I laid all my issues out during my first psychiatrist visit and walked away with a prescription that I regarded as a potential life changer.
And so far, it hasn’t disappointed. I started a full-time job after freelancing for four years, something I had great anxiety over due to the possibility of re-entering a toxic work environment. But with a healthier mindset, I’m able to embrace it as a steady paycheck and a form of much-needed social interaction that I lacked when typing out articles in solitude was my sole revenue stream. My house isn’t spotless, but I attend to it more closely; I’m back to prioritizing hygiene and I’m utterly grateful that I let go of my anti-medication attitude because it’s held me back from mental stability for far too long.
This isn’t an attempt to convince anyone that medication is the route to go, or that things in my life are picture perfect thanks to a daily pill because that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, today is another gloomy, wet day, the some of the same issues I had before are still around and to top it off, I’m sick as a dog – another horrible byproduct of starting a job outside of the home during this winter season.
After years of struggling to deal with overcast skies, brisk temps and rain-soaked streets, the fact that I’m alive and relatively OK is good enough for me. Sometimes, it just has to be.