Turning depression around

The power struggle

A common misunderstanding about depression surrounds the nature of its healing.  Recovery takes longer for some than it does for others, but unlike a broken bone, in most most cases healing is not absolute.  It isn’t a fracture that, after a few weeks in plaster, has knitted itself back together, as strong and as resilient as before.  Yes, the healing still happens unseen and internally, but there’s no risk of it breaking again from one day, from one hour, from one minute to the next if the balance shifts even imperceptibly.

Living with depression is a daily fight.  Some days, we win the tug of war easily with little effort; others we can literally be knocked down by a feather.  The fight can be a minor tiff or a full-scale nuclear war, and our chances of victory depend largely on how well we’re feeling.  There’s no way of predicting how devastating the assault will be or how well-stocked our supplies are to oppose it.

Our track record of victories provides no comfort or encouragement, because it feels like the slate is wiped clean from one day to the next.  The knowledge that we’ve faced worst and come out on top bears no significance when we’re faced with the challenge of a new day.  By the same token, there is little immediate satisfaction in the realisation that we have survived another attack.

And the reality is that every day that we see through to its end is a victory.  It may not feel like it at the time, but when we reach the end of the day, we have come out on top.  We haven’t succumbed, haven’t given in, haven’t given up.  If it’s taken help from others to get us there, we’ve found the strength to ask someone to stand beside us and face it.  We don’t have to go it alone; we just have to keep on going.

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No-one Days – opening

I’d like to try something  different today in sharing the opening of my first (unfinished and unpublished) novel with you.  Please leave any comments or criticism so that I can start to gauge the kind of reception it would be likely to receive once I’m comfortable enough with the finished article to share it in its entirety.  Thank you all in advance!

Week 1                                                                                                                                                                 Tuesday

Which bed am I in and which way is it facing?  I’m disorientated as usual when the mail falling to the floor wakens me.  The postman always comes at 11.30; have I slept that late again?  I don’t even remember hitting the snooze button.  What day is it?  Tuesday?  I’m supposed to be meeting Kym in an hour for lunch.  Not likely. 

“Kym?  Hi, it’s Eve. Yes, running late as usual, haha, you know me.  No, of course I’m not still in bed!  Been running around doing housework!  Look, I’ll be there as soon as I can, shouldn’t be any more than half an hour late.  Great, thanks, sorry again.  Better go!  Yep, yep, tell me all about it when I see you!  Okay, bye for now.”  Housework.  Just as well it’s not a video call.

What clean, ironed clothes do I have?  I can think about that in the shower, if I can summon the energy to drag myself out of bed in the first place.  Three, two, one, move.  Nope, that window of opportunity just passed.  Why am I so tired?  Seriously, three, two, one, move.  Third time lucky? Need to get the meat marinating for dinner before I go.   Skip breakfast, use dry shampoo and tinted moisturiser – any shortcut’s a bonus.  Three, two, and we’re up!

I’m exhausted just from showering. I’m sure I fell asleep well before midnight.  Admittedly, I woke up every couple of hours, and got up briefly with Ross before he left for work, but surely I should have more life about me than this.   Jeans and nondescript top pulled on, bed made, now the daily routine of putting the face on that seems terminally endless: cleanser, toner, eye cream, primer, serum, tinted moisturiser, concealer, two shades of eye shadow, eyeliner, another shade of eye shadow, two coats of mascara instead of the usual three, blusher, powder, lipstick, lip gloss, blot with tissue.  Each step in the process is a daunting task to surmount, dragging one foot in front of the other.  Dry shampoo now, plug in the straighteners, get my handbag ready while I wait for them to heat up, then section off and straighten, section off and straighten…. Add some perfume and subtle jewellery, and the finished product is, well, nowhere near worthy of the effort.  Oh well, that’s as good as it gets really.

I should be on my way already but there’s still tonight’s dinner to deal with.  Nothing that looks too important in the mail; it can wait.  Pre-cut pork and packet sauce.  Empty it all into a bowl, cover, stick it in the fridge.  Breakfast dishes in the sink.  I’d better wash them now; if Ross finishes early and sees them before I get back from Kym, he’ll know I skipped breakfast again and I’ll get another concerned lecture.

Right, I’m good to go, and I’m just standing here, looking at my key and willing it to make its way into the front door lock, not for the first time these days.  Couldn’t I just go back to bed?  I’m practically hyperventilating, stomach’s in knots, palms sweaty.  I’d much rather stay home, and it’s sorely tempting to call Kym and cancel altogether, but I did that last time.  I just have to get the door open, step outside, close it, and get into the car.  No big deal.  But then when I get to town, I have to find a space, and everyone will be on their lunch, and what chance do I stand of getting parked anywhere near the restaurant, and just how late will I be, and how annoyed will Kym be with me AGAIN, even if she smiles and says it’s fine?  I’m watching my shaking hand close the distance to the lock and fighting back waves of nausea.  I’ve been opening doors and closing them behind me for years; what is going on here?  What’s wrong with me?  I’m wasting more time behind this closed door, frozen as if someone has hit the “pause” button on a VHS recording of “Life with Eve”, hand still trembling in front of me.

Calm down, deep breath, relax.  The key is finally in the lock, turn it once, pull the handle.  Less than ten yards to my car cocoon.  Okay, I’m out, house door locked, car doors open, I’m behind the wheel, the door is closed,  I feel much better, more secure, less exposed, less vulnerable.  There’s no-one in the street.

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