Over the last couple of years I’ve tried to work with my depression instead of against it. To me this means going with the flow: working on those tasks that I feel up to, and not forcing myself to slog through tasks. Do this goes against my upbringing. It goes against some of the underlying belief in hard work that is so prevalent in American society.
We “tough it out” and “work through the pain.” We never take sick days. We pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and soldier on. We put in 110% and go big or go home. We fake it till we make it. What we never, ever do is stop to question who is the taskmaster that set this schedule, let alone why we should follow it.
Hard work, after all, is it’s own reward.
This last week I’ve been plagued with insomnia … again. I can’t fall asleep until four or five or six in the morning. And then, when I do, I sleep away half the day. If it weren’t for the fact that Stephan is at home and responsible for the kids in the morning, the house would be miserable.
Part of this is a physical cycle: sleep away the day and of course I won’t be able to sleep at night. Part of it is my depression: meds help, but the American Horror Show: White House that is playing out is making it worse.
I’ve tried to work with this: breaking down work into simple tasks and tackling them as I feel able. I spent Monday baking and prepping meals. Tuesday was running errands. Yesterday I started seeds for the garden, and registered for some events later this year. Very little time was spent in the workshop. And it’s that which Jerk Brain latches onto. I have deadlines! I am not depressed, I’m lazy! Going with the flow is just an excuse for not having dedication and follow through!
And, despite having years of practice dealing with Jerk Brain, it can still be hard to ignore. Especially when one or two bad days drags out into four or five. I begin to second-guess this plan of giving myself permission to do work that isn’t tied to a paycheck. I start to look at my output, at my hours worked, and scattered as they are across the days and week it is hard not to see them as inferior to a solid forty hour work week. When I have to budget and scrimp and save, when I look at my dwindling bank account, it is hard not to believe Jerk Brain when it insists that I am a failure.
One of my weapons against all this is Stephan. I tell him that I feel like I am being a bad partner and mom. That I worry I am not contributing enough to our family’s stability. I tell him that I’m worried my insomnia is responsible for his own sleeplessness.
He responds that I am doing fine. He says Jerk Brain is an asshole liar. He promises that if he had an issue with anything he would say so. And he cracks jokes to make me smile and laugh. He gives me permission to keep going with the flow, not because he thinks I need it, but because he knows I want it as a shield against my doubts. I’m hoping that one day I won’t have to rely on him so much. I am also okay with the knowledge that that day may never come.
More than that I will try to take it a day at a time. Despite the insomnia and sleeping in today I managed to tidy up the house, help Benjamin with his homework, and take some measurements for projects. And I wrote this post. Little tasks. Little check marks on the to do list. And one by one I will get things done.