Last week I had a major brain monkey attack – one of the worst in a long while. Those of you who have been reading me for a while will know that shortly after C’s birth I was diagnosed with post partum depression (or whatever they call it these days). Then I began to realise how much my life wasn’t what I wanted it to be. Then my marriage ended.
And I had a couple of years of desperately trying to stay afloat, work, parent, survive financially, all while dealing with some pretty incapacitating depression. I told someone last week that I’d shown up, showered, and that was an achievement, because for a year or more my bar was literally: try to shower and keep my kid alive.
I beat it. I beat it with a combo of meds and having good people around me, and my own sheer stubborn determination that THIS WASN’T ME, that I was a happy, upbeat human with a positive outlook and the fact that my brain kept telling me stuff to the contrary was an illness, not a fact. I did it by learning coping strategies, by figuring out what triggers it and what makes it easier to deal with once triggered. By learning to recognise it. By not believing the lies my brain tells.
But the thing about depression is that it never really goes away. So last week when I woke up feeling like there was no point in anything, and everyone already thinks I’m a flake, and I’ll never get a job, and I don’t deserve the sort of relationship I want to be having and etc etc etc, I recognised it for what it was.
That doesn’t make it easy. I wish that was all it took. To point and go, “Hey you, you’re a brain monkey – be off with you!” But it was enough that I could turn to the people close to me and go, “My head is fucked, just so you know”. It was enough that I knew it would pass. It was enough that I could keep taking the one step.
It hasn’t passed. It’s eased off, but I still have an overwhelming desire to stay in my house and never talk to anyone else ever again. It is still taking every iota of effort in me to keep chipping away at the things on my to do list.
Do you know how hard it is to write application letters with the brainmonkeys chittering in your head? It sucks.
BUT. I did it. I sorted Latchkey. I sent my Creative Commons book to print. I did laundry. I showered. I went outside yesterday and spoke to people. I applied for jobs. It takes so much work – more than it should. It takes vigilance not to get sucked down. But I did it. I’m doing it.
By taking one step. And then another. And then another. It probably doesn’t look like a victory from the outside. Most of the time, when I look, all I see is the huge array of things I haven’t got to yet.
But it is a victory. One step. That’s how I win.