I’ve been depressed for the past four months, and I only realized it yesterday. Sure, there’s been warning signs. But the connective tissue wasn’t obvious. In fact, it still isn’t. I still don’t know what catalyzed my depression to rear it’s head on me once again.
Maybe it was that I let my guard down. About a year ago, the last time I had felt this low, I saw it coming. I watched it approach, a Persian army to my 300. I’ve gone through this song and dance a time or two, I knew the warning signs. I thought I had basically guarded against any possibility of my depression getting further than skin deep. Because there is no stopping it getting inside. It WILL get inside you. But if you’re prepared, ready for the attack, you can sometimes minimize the damage. A stick of dynamite instead of the atom bomb.
I thought about my depression when I was at my low point in a job that was sucking every bit of soul out of my body. Only the Ghostbusters could have done a better job. But I left the job. I got out. The road to recovery could begin.
And I was, mostly, happy. I thought. I had fun with friends and transitioned to a much healthier (lower-paying) job, and I was getting to live my life. But in between, the cracks were there. I wasn’t responding emotionally to things how I normally responded. I hadn’t picked back up with my writing, despite me essentially taking a break because I felt depressed and overwhelmed in my other job. Why didn’t that urge to write come back once I left? The question I never asked myself.
Another thing I never questioned: food. I haven’t enjoyed a meal in months. It never dawned on me that I was mindlessly eating, usually shit food, without appreciating what I was doing. It’s easy to see these issues now. But in the moment, each day and each moment seemed like its own individual oddity.
Depression built one hell of a Trojan horse, knocked on my door and I let it in. I didn’t see it coming because there was nothing to see. The devil itself didn’t reveal itself until he was already on the inside.
So, what was the trigger? What magical moment, what awe-inspiring sign from above was the wake-up call I needed yesterday? Lunch. I wanted a pizza. I drove to my favorite pizza place and they were closed. Yelp said they should be open, but here I was, pulling on a locked door, barstools and chairs flipped onto tables on the inside. Where the pizza was. Whatever, I don’t know what to get now and the caffeine from my morning coffee was starting to make me nauseous.
I drove to a busy street, the kind where there are bars and restaurants only separated by a different kind of bar or restaurant. Tons of great food options all around. I ended up at a Chipotle. It’s nothing against Chipotle, they are one of my favorite fast-er food restaurants. But it wasn’t really what I wanted.
So I sat in my car. For twenty minutes. Wanting to eat, nausea slowly consuming my body the way that I should, by this point, be consuming a burrito. But refusing to get up. Why was I never in the mood for anything? Why haven’t I enjoyed eating food for the past week? The past month? Wait, when was the last time I enjoyed eating? What’s going on?
Starting in January of this year, I’ve been journaling every day for the first time in my life. I went back through my journal entries since late April and found…something. Nothing specific that I can point to, but seeing my apathy and frustration day after day, in a short span of time, highlights how miserable I’ve been.
And to be honest, at this point, I don’t know that I need a moment. A specific thing that sent me spiraling. I’m here now. Would I have liked a warning of the months to come? Absolutely. But I didn’t get it. And I’m too far down the road now to worry about the wrong turn I took. Like any good explorer, I need to reorient myself to the correct path, find it, and get back on track.
Mental health isn’t easy to upkeep, especially in 2019. It’s important to have a plan and know that you’re never really in the clear. It is an illness. Mental illness. But even when we are in our lowest, most vulnerable state, we have the power. It won’t feel like it, and it won’t be easy to reclaim, but we have it.
I never got my pizza. Or a burrito. I ended up eating junk from the Taco Bell next door. And I didn’t enjoy it. But maybe I’ll enjoy the next meal. Maybe.
Photo by Brunel Johnson on Unsplash