On fighting depression: do the next thing…
(Friends, forgive me if this post is a bit hard to follow. When I am struggling with depression, my brain is mush. But I felt like I had to write this.)
Since my book published in August, I’ve been going at break neck speed. Speak at this conference, write that guest post, comment on this person’s Facebook status, plan this week’s marketing strategy, all while I attempted to be present for my family, laugh from the gut once in a while, and clunk out awkward words on my laptop in the hopes that somehow God would spread his magic dust over them and form them into a book.
Break neck speed… without breaking my neck, for three months.
That’s a big deal for someone like me who spent the better part of 2012 in the throes of depression.
Going, going, gone.
Yesterday morning I woke up with heavy limbs. My eyes blurred as I tried to figure out the day.
What’s going on today? What am I supposed to do?
I had no idea.
As a person who fights depression (not just struggles, but fights), I’ve learned to answer myself in short, doable sentences.
“Get out of bed. Eat breakfast. Change Evie’s diaper. Help Polly go to the bathroom.”
When that heaviness comes, (because it always does, no matter how much I’ve prayed and read the Psalms, no matter how much I exercise, no matter how many plates of greens I eat in an effort for good nutrition, it comes…) I’ve learned to break my life into bite sized pieces. I’ve learned the importance of being honest with myself, and honestly doing the next thing.
Do the next thing.
No more, no less.
But yesterday I quickly moved past ‘do the next thing.’ As I struggled to breathe I realized there was no next thing for me. I couldn’t do anything. My energy was zapped, my limbs numb, my strategic writer brain flat-lined.
Do the next thing.
So I did the only thing I could: I raised a figurative white flag, hugged and kissed my children who were home because of report card pick up day, and called my husband and asked if he could rearrange his schedule to come home (he could, he did, God bless him).
I raised my white flag, not forever, but certainly for the afternoon, and crawled in between my worn black sheets and slept the day away.
That night, the next thing for my family was hosting a weekly home group.
But my next thing was the same as the afternoon.
I stayed in bed, slept, prayed, and watched Netflix.
Polly came up to lie down with me at bedtime since Sergei was busy hosting people in our living room.
“Hi Mom. You sad?” Her almond shaped eyes blinked at me through the darkness.
“Yeah, but I’ll be OK, honey.”
She cuddled up next to me, satisfied with my answer, and I was struck. “Yeah, but I’ll be OK.” What I did today wasn’t giving in to depression. I didn’t give up. I simply did the next thing.
I honestly did what I could. I did the next thing.
My next thing was a long afternoon nap.
And I did it.
Because that’s all any of us can do… the next thing.