I don’t like this moment. I’d say I don’t like life but that’s not true. That is an old statement. I do like life, at times I love it. But unfortunately most moments I don’t. Most moments life is mundane. When life isn’t mundane, I tend to be depressed or angry or freaked out. But some moments are wonderful. Right now, in sad. I don’t know why, but it is. And so I am choosing to read. I will not escape life, that is not something I wish to do. For the happy moments. But I will escape this moment by delving into a fictional world with fictional happiness and happy endings. I will read.
It started in middle school. Appearances and dating, breasts and tiny tummies. It was an obsession. I was not well endowed, and still am not. But I was tiny. My friends were jealous of my slim waist and the hint of abs there. I liked the compliments, I liked being “better.” I stopped eating in order to encourage this new fascination. I ate a granola bar at lunch to satisfy my friends, and granola bars at home when I felt my sugar levels drop to the point of passing out. I became obsessed with doing sit-ups. It became routine.
Make a bowl of oatmeal, throw it away, leave the dirty dish for my parents to find. Eat a max of three granola bars a day. Skip dinner, and on family dinner nights barely eat. 50 sit-ups every time I ate. 100-200 sit-ups each morning. 200-500 sit-ups before bed. It was my tiniest time.
Then it was all restriction. Then binge. And then purge got added to the mix after a serious stomach bug in which I lost 10 pounds from lack of being able to hold food down. This went on for perhaps over a year, the purging. I no longer purge. At least not in a few months. The temptation is there, often. Sometimes I bring myself to the brink of purging, and then I stop.
I’ve turned to eating as I want. Exercising when the depression lets up. Trying to like my body as it is, curvy but slim. One person in my life compliments my appearance on a daily basis, multiple times a day. I believe he is sincere in his opinion of my physical appearance. It helps to hear those compliments. It shouldn’t matter what my appearance means to others, but it does help. It helps me believe I am beautiful and sexy. But I still restrict, I still overeat as a result of the restriction, and I want to purge. I want to see the numbers drop on a scale, and I want them to stay down. But the number it is now is fine. I have to remember that.
Right now, I badly want a peek into my future. I want to know what my outcome is. I want to know if I get better. I want to see if I’m strong enough to make the life I picture. It is very hard at the moment to see my potential. I have so much going for me. I’m living independently, I’m in college, I’m working, I have a family that cares, I have a couple close friends. I’ve come so far from that damned place in my head where the mental illness literally takes over every thought and action. But it’s taunting. I’m tempted to go sleep in that fog again. It is so tiring to fight this fight everyday that is only known to me. No one else can fight it for me either. I’ve come so far, but it’s so easy to go back to that same place.
There’s one person who is on my mind. One person who I’ve seen struggle, and has appeared to have found clear mindfulness. But do I reach out? Miles and miles away… I want to run. I know it’s manic of me. But I want to call her and ask to join her, in hopes of learning how she has managed it. Is it selfish? Is it juvenile? I just want to know. I want to say goodbye to life and responsibilities and take a little vacation, and my mind goes to her.
I’ve been finding myself easily overwhelmed, and my mother told me to make lists. Every day for years I’ve seen my mother make a list of what she needed to do and what she wanted to do for the day. I’ve picked up on that habit and do something similar. However, when looking at the big picture of finances and college and jobs, I got lost! Setting up classes, getting text books, applying for car loans, paying rent, grocery shopping, finding a second job! It’s become a lot! While some of those I’ve been doing routinely, when other large tasks got added my brain became scrambled.
So, I wrote it down. I focused on one task a day. And, slowly, it is becoming managed. The list does not get accomplished in one day, and sometimes one task does not get accomplished in one day but three days later, but it helps me focus. One task, one day. Then, a task gets crossed off, and I leave the list to another day.
Every day, I figure out what needs to be done. I write it down. I think of things I would like to do for myself. I write it down. I pick and choose from my list throughout the day. Sometimes I manage to do all the things on my list, and sometimes I don’t. No matter what though, I do something for myself. I include what I want to do. Life and routine become a drag if you don’t do something for yourself.
The days are shorter, life seems a little bit darker. Seasonal depression certainly has settled in. My eighteenth winter, I now see the looming dread of each cold and dark day. The depression is a companion to me these days, always nearby and unwilling to rest. However, I have managed to keep the depression at arms length by being aware of its presence and taking guard against it. Too many of my winters have been spent in a depressed coma. This year, as I felt the depression settle into my being I scooted it out and wear it as an invisible choker necklace around my throat. Here for the moment, but not the long run. Not taking over my being, but present in my life.
Perhaps these little things don’t actually manage the depression, but so far they have seemed to help me manage it in my head. I’ve always been encouraged to take a multivitamin sufficient in vitamin C (need that lacking vitamin especially now in the winter), and now I make sure to do so each morning along with a probiotic. I’ve downloaded a calorie counter app on my phone, since I know I emotionally eat, to be sure I’m reaching a healthy amount of nutrition as well as not over doing it. The most important thing I’ve been doing though, is running a mile every day. One mile is not a significant amount, but it’s not simply for the physical benefit. It is mainly stimulate my body and brain, releasing chemicals in the brain that people suffering with depression lack in.
It is not a lot, but it’s enough.
Living in a world as large as ours, it is easy to feel lost or perhaps insignificant amongst the thousands of people we pass each day. When you get into a mindset where you feel as if nothing you do matters, it’s easy to feel like your individual life is not important. What is the point? I sometimes ask myself, when I feel like I won’t make an important impact on anyone’s lives. I struggle with not feeling important enough. I fear disappointment and shame; I feel insignificant. While in reality I know I make the people in my life happy, I feel as if I could always do better. Instead of trying harder, I often don’t try at all.
When it seems as if I could simply slip out of life, one thing makes me feel important enough to stay- or rather one being. While I have family and friends who I love and cherish, it is Peanut Butter who makes me feel needed. With no words, this dog who’s life corresponds to mine has made life more than going through a routine day after day. There are no expectations, and no disappointments. There’s a wet nose, giant paws, and a thumping tail that says “I love you, and you are my person!”
For me, it is not just a dog. It is the one being who has made me feel irreplaceable.
Recently, my parents brought home a new English Mastiff puppy named Oggy Mo. The little pup has revived life into my parents recently empty nest. When my parents heard Santa was visiting the pet store this past Saturday, my parents scooped up little Oggy, picked up my doggy Peanut Butter (the giant tan brute of a dog), and the canine cousin Cody to go take pictures with Santa.