I’ve been documenting my recent struggles with depression in this space. I don’t think I’m saying anything original, or particularly interesting. I’m mostly doing it out of my desire to not be a hypocrite. In the past, I have cared for people suffering from depression. I would always ask them to be open about it. I would say that it affects lots of people, it is nothing to be ashamed of and that people are generally pretty understanding. Mostly, my advice was ignored or sneered at. I understand why. For many people, people like me, sharing is hard when everything is great. But, I still believe what I used to say. And even though I don’t feel like it, I think being open is important for me right now.
Now that I am dealing with depression directly, one way that I’m trying to get better is to try to ask myself, “What advice would I have given?” and trying to follow that advice. One piece of advice that I am particularly struggling with now is, “Fake it ’til you make it.” Not that I would have said it that way. It sounds awfully glib. But it is the way I’m saying it to myself.
There are two broad ways in which I’m trying to follow my own advice. One is I force myself to go through the motions. That’s everything from brushing my teeth to eating meals to actually responding when someone says, “Good morning.” And not responding with a grunt, but instead saying, “Good morning,” in return. None of these are big deals and I’m nowhere near perfect, I didn’t eat breakfast or lunch today. But I keep trying. If I keep at it long enough, I hope that one morning I will say, “Good morning,” because it is a pleasant morning. And I will eat because food sounds yummy. And I will brush my teeth because I’d prefer a clean mouth. In the mean time, I’ll fake it as best as I can.
The other way I’m trying to follow my advice is trying to make sure that none of my normal activities become a Thing. I know that Thing, even with the capital T, is a little vague. I’m just not aware of any other word that describes it. Basically, I’m afraid that by avoiding things, they will become Things. I missed some work last week. It was incredibly hard to go back this morning. But, if I hadn’t gone this morning, it would have been even harder tomorrow and before I knew it, work would have become a Thing. Last week, I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner. I really, really, really didn’t want to go. But my therapist told me I should and I’m glad I did. No part of me wanted to be there, but it would really suck if meeting a friend for dinner became a Thing. And it could easily happen because things become Things when we can’t face them. So, whether it’s work or meeting a friend or any of the other things I’d desperately love to avoid, I’m going to show up and pretend like it’s normal in an effort to keep all of my things normal, with a lowercase t.
So, I will continue trying to fake my way through normal activities in the hopes that I will make it back to normal activities being normal. It is exhausting, but I know it’s what I would want me to do if I were taking care of me. That’s a strangely dissociative way of saying it, but it’s the best I’ve got right now.