Friday, January 15, 2016

How I Get Out of Bed

One of the common symptoms of depression is lethargy. An all-consuming, undeniable, near paralysis. Obviously, not every person struggling with depression experiences the same thing, but this particular characteristic of the illness is so well-identified that it is almost always part of the picture. It is mentioned by depressed writers when describing their experiences. It is illustrated by artists when creating cartoons or other artwork portraying the condition. Tiredness, torpor, inertia, lack of motivation... call it what you will, it is frequently associated with depression.

Quite often, I see it mentioned by other bloggers and artists. And it made me think: How do I get out of bed on a rough day? When I'm really low?

On those days, it is never easy. Today, for example, it took me 45 minutes. Not 45 minutes of hitting the snooze button. Not 45 minutes of lounging lazily in the bed. Forty-five long, focused minutes trying to talk myself into it. Forty-five minutes of telling myself to get up already, get moving, GET UP. GET OUT OF THIS BED AND WASH YOUR FACE AND GET YOUR DAY STARTED. NOW. GO.

Some days, the talk is encouraging. Some days it is pleading. Some days it is a drill sergeant. Some days it is hateful. 

Rarely is it the voice that works. 

No, what gets me out of bed is the absolutely bone-chilling fear that if I don't move, that if I don't make an effort, that if I don't put a good face on it, that if I'm not productive or useful in some way, no one will want me. If I don't find a way to hide how I'm feeling, what I will get in return is disgust, or dismissal, or distrust.

Oh, surely not, you say. Surely your loved ones and friends would be understanding and supportive. But the other depression sufferers already know what I'm talking about. The judgment that can come with the admission of your illness. The stigma. The "be happy" brigade. The people who can't understand and don't want to try.

I recently made the mistake of telling a couple of close family members that I was depressed and occasionally thought about suicide. The next day I got an email from one of them. It said, "I would have never thought you to be so self-centered."

Depression, apparently, is a selfish pursuit. 

Here's the catch, though. If you go to therapy, or read the internet, or join a support group, etc., the advice you always receive is to "talk about it." Let others know how you're feeling. Unfortunately, the world, at least my little corner of it, is not evolved enough for that.  

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to stay in bed all day. I want to be useful and productive and involved. It's just not a matter of want. If it was, I wouldn't have depression at all. So until something changes, I suppose I'll keep using the fear and the stigma to propel me out from under the covers on a bad day.       

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