Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben
I’ve had a couple of better days. For the first time in months, I’ve actually felt like I was able to stay on top of most things. When you’re in a depression and you’re in so deep that even unloading the dishwasher seems impossible, it can be really encouraging when you’re able to do laundry, write a blogpost and prepare dinner all in one day.
Depression isn’t a linear process. I don’t really know many linear processes, to be honest, but still, our minds try to create order when there is none, and we get this idea that you’re sick, and then you steadily get better.
Depression and burnout don’t work that way. You might get sick, then get a little better, then fall really deep again, to then end up where you originally started and feel like time has stood still. It can seem like you’re completely powerless and desperate. But I do believe that there’s a method to this madness.
When you’re first sinking into a depression, it takes time to adjust to a new reality. A reality in which you’re all of a sudden no longer able to feel how you used to feel, and are faced with emotions and thoughts that you didn’t have before. You have to learn how to be in a state where nothing seems to work, where you can’t organize your mind, have trouble talking and feel like nothing matters anymore. It takes time before you’re able to start looking at what’s underneath the darkness, and through looking dive deeper and perhaps feel like you’re doing worse.
In between these deep dives, there have to be moments of recuperation. I don’t think any system can continuously be going through heavy emotional processing It’s too exhausting. You need times of rest and integration, moments to recharge. Those days feel like the good days.
On these good days, I kind of feel like myself again. I actually WANT to do something. I manage to cook a meal and talk to other parents at the school gate. The room is not exploding into chaos and I don’t bite my children’s heads off quite as much. Last Monday, I even bought some tulips! In the depth of the depression, you don’t see any point in wasting money on flowers that won’t cheer you up anyway and will only cause more trouble when they start to rot in the vase.
I’m sure that the fact that my doctor has extended my sick leave (which curbs my anxiety), the fact that I’ve been on my medication for a few weeks, and my growing acceptance of my state all contribute to my better mood. Yet I also know that it’s good to plan ahead and to keep in mind that even if there are more rainy days ahead, this doesn’t mean that it’s all been in vain. Why do I assume that those bad days will be back? Because I can sense the sadness lurking in the corners of my mind at times.
Some things are different now. I am better prepared. I know that walks, photography, art and medication can help me. I know that it’s okay not to be okay. I know, more or less, which thoughts will pop up and that they will go away again when I feel better. I know that I have a support system and how to reach out to it. I also know that if the depression hits, all of the above will seem meaningless. And yes, that’s really shitty, but it also is what it is.
There are good moments and bad moments, whether you’re depressed or not. The lows are just quite a bit lower, and the highs are not quite as high. But where there’s a step up, I’m sure there will be more to follow. One small step at a time.