So, I had a pretty rough summer. I am sure I have said this before but I tend to get very depressed in the summer. I know that sounds all backasswards but I just do. I think I feel more isolated during that time of the year. I don’t do well in the heat at all. I just can’t be out in it anymore. Summers are typically pretty slow at my husband’s barbershop which means that there is less money to get out and do things. People are busy and on vacations… I just realized I am kind of justifying my depression because it seems to happen in the opposite season than most people suffer who “seasonal” depression… it needs no justification, I just get depressed in the summer, mmmmkay?
When I get depressed I tend to isolate and stop doing things that bring me joy or personal satisfaction. Anyone who has ever struggled with this knows what I am talking about. The slippery slope we never realize we are on until we are sliding down the hill so fast we are getting gravel packed up up our ass cracks, headed straight for the inevitable and painful face-plant we are going to suffer when hitting the brick wall at the bottom. As quick and almost unexpected as the slide down hill is, the climb back up is heartbreakingly difficult, long, and exhausting.
I am in the middle of that climb right now, but things are looking up more and more each day. The thing about the climb is that it is often impossible to get started and stay upright without help. I think a lot of us feel so ashamed of our struggles with depression/anxiety/mental health issues that we don’t want to ask for or seek help. I finally had to ask for help and for me, at this time, that help has come in the form of talk therapy/counseling. Sometimes that help is meds… sometimes a combination, but for right now and for me, therapy is it. I have been seeing a therapist for a few months, but because I go to the community counseling clinic thought Portland State University, and am seeing student therapists (because it is only $15 a session), I had to take a month long break between semesters. When I came back from the break I had a new therapist assigned to me (I knew this was going to happen… they didn’t just say “Surprise! Here is a new person to get use to!”).
This actually turned out to be a good thing because I don’t really feel that the first person I was seeing was a good fit for me. This serves as a really important reminder though! You are paying a therapist to do a job for you. Yes, if you are doing therapy right you are doing a lot of personal work, but the therapist’s job is to turn your sessions into something constructive… to guide you, and in some cases, to call you on your silly human shit. If your therapist, or counselor, or whatever the fuck you call the person you isn’t doing the things you are paying for, then it is well within your rights to respectfully end your relationship with that person and find someone who can better fulfill your needs. It doesn’t mean that this person is bad at their job, or that you are “unfixable”; sometimes personalities just don’t mesh or techniques that might work on one person don’t work on another. Never feel like you are stuck with someone who isn’t helping you.
Anyway… I feel like I am starting to make some good headway with this new person I am seeing. We had a great talk today and last week and as we shine a little light on what is going on with me, I see the things I do to myself on the trip down the proverbial slippery slope more clearly. Frankly, I am astonished by the amount of self-deprivation I am capable of without even realizing it. I mean seriously, I should get some sort of fucking award or another! I truly should! The first thing that went is music. I stopped listening to it… almost completely. I stopped singing. I stopped making an effort to get out and spend time with friends. I stopped painting my nails. I stopped doing my art. I let my precious new studio get so messy I can’t work in it. I even stopped writing in my non podcast related blogs. And I stopped writing fiction all together.
Last weekend I was hit with the realization that I have been depriving myself and I decided to get off my ass and do something about it. The first thing I did was clean my filthy fucking house. If you come to my house and it is a complete pig sty, then you know I am struggling with some darkness. Forcing myself to clean gets me going in the right direction every time. As I told my friend Loni today, “my house always looks how I feel on the inside and sometimes we just have to suck it up and make the outside look the way we WANT to feel on the inside.”
I am actually still chipping away at a few projects around the house and I have to be careful not to push myself because I can’t physically keep up with what my mind wants to get done and sometimes that triggers a different sort of frustrated and short-lived depression. But for the most part, my house is coming back together again. What is really going to piece things back into place for me is making a conscious effort to do the things that I love again. So here’s to singing 80s power ballads in the shower at a volume which I know damned good and well the neighbors can hear if they are in their bathroom; painting my nails with sparkly polish, going out and having lunch with friends, cooking winter squash even though it pisses my husband off, making tons of art, and laughing again!