Don’t worry: I’m still swimming.

I’ve been having quite a time of it lately. I don’t know how it works for you, but when I’m wrestling with something – an idea, a problem, demons, ghosts, tweenagers, break-ups, and the worst of them all, feelings – well, I shut down. I go into power-save mode so I can ensure that I have energy for the most important things. I feed the kids. Supervise homework. Buy groceries. Go to Beauty in the Beast. Force myself to go to work. The girls know I’ve been…not my best. They think I’m sick. [And, honestly, on top of everything else, I have been sick. I made them draw blood to see if I had listeria because of the constant stomach issues and the fact that I’d eaten some of the recalled Sargento cheese. Why you play me like that, cheese?]

Depression isn’t an easy thing. Yes, that’s the most obvious statement I could possibly have made, but here’s the thing: saying it out loud helps. Writing it helps me even more, given my affinity for writerly occupations. Writing is my oxygen. Writing and reading, they’re one of my best measurements to gauge my mental health and overall well-being. This past week (and maybe longer? I don’t know, honestly, how wide this pond has stretched) I haven’t been able to post because I haven’t been able to write. I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile. When I did think of something, I couldn’t imagine that it would hold any value for any one reading it. Why post useless material? But I persisted. I sat every morning and tried to think of anything of value; things that would necessitate more than three sentences to sum things up. Because I wouldn’t let myself just throw my hands in the air (metaphorically; my depression sucks all energy out of me and I couldn’t even throw my hands in the air in exasperation in my head). I made myself type things out, start stories I didn’t like, just to go through the motions. To fucking do something. I have a couple dozen drafts from last week. I might have written something, but I couldn’t post it. I wasn’t close to swimming to shore, but at least I was treading water. When you’re in the muck as bad as I was, “just” treading water is amazing. It’s a gold star. Getting your mind to loosen the grip on the thoughts of uselessness, panic, anxiety, and general despair…it’s exhausting, but also rewarding because a tiny voice is in there telling you that you made a bit of progress. There’s hope. I was still swimming. Or, trying to anyway.

Gracie kept asking for blog posts. A few book club partners asked if they had missed my Thursday reviews. I imagine Kathy is probably one step from boarding a plane and showing up on my doorstep. But other than that, it’s been quiet. Either everyone is giving me space. Or they have been busy and don’t notice. Maybe I’m barely a ripple in their pond.

But that’s okay. Them, waiting it out. It’s what I needed. I don’t know why I was moved to finally write a post tonight. I don’t know why I wanted to explain all of a sudden. I’m not embarrassed by my conditions. Depression and anxiety are heavily stigmatized in our society, and that’s not right. You can’t seek help if you’re afraid to say what’s wrong. If you’re afraid to admit even to yourself what’s wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being depressed. It’s not your fault if you are. Tell yourself what’s wrong. Tell someone else what’s wrong (if you can). And seek self-care and let others care for you, too.

I’m doing better. I kept swimming (just keep swimming – Dory gives the best advice). I know that I have a wonderful village standing by, ready to throw in a life preserver if I need it. I know that things will get better. It won’t always be like this; it won’t always feel like this. I’m okay, guys. I’m writing. And in just a few seconds, I’ll hit the publish button. I’m back. Ish, but hey! I’m here!

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One Response to “Don’t worry: I’m still swimming.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    So very, very glad to read this. You are right – I was getting ready to grab my “go bag” and head your way. I know how hard it is, I am swimming right there with you. And I hate that for as much as I was worrying about you I couldn’t find the energy to check on you. Please know that I was thinking of you (all the stinkin’ time), that I really am here when you are ready to talk (If that time comes) and that if my kids were a little older I totally would have been on your doorstep. Love you my friend!

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