When people ask how I’m doing these days, I give them the usual depression answers:
Do those answers seem indicative of a person doing well? Not really. But are they enough to avoid actually going into detail on how I’m really doing? Most of the time– both thankfully, and unfortunately.
But they aren’t the real answer. Most people aren’t looking for the real answer, anyway; they just want to exchange pleasantries and go on their merry way. No need for me to be a Debbie Downer and rain on their parade with how I’m really doing; Lord knows everyone has enough crap of their own going on for me to spill my mess into theirs.
Ending this rambling train of thought for now…
If you’re wondering how I really am feeling, here’s an answer:
I’m feeling stalled. Stuck. Stagnant. Uncertain. Unsure where to go from here.
I’ve spent most of the last few months trying to figure out what’s next and what my future will look like. But honestly? I’ve gotten nowhere.
I used to just feel like I was in quicksand– sinking slowly, the pressure of the unknown pulling me inwards. Now, I feel like there’s a damn wall keeping me from getting out of the quicksand– holding me hostage. Trapped.
I feel stalled in my career (or lack thereof).
I feel stalled in my faith.
I feel stalled in my health, both physical and mental.
I feel stalled in my home life– stuck in my mom’s house with no end in sight, without a community of any kind. Most of my friends are online, but that can’t hug me on a bad day.
Nothing I try is working. Nothing I do is making life easier or better.
I feel energy-less. Motivation-less. Pointless.
A lot of less-ness going on, clearly.
I gave up doing some of the regular blogging I’d started doing over the last few months– it felt moot. Who’s reading anyway? I stopped posting a lot online– no one’s really paying attention, anyway. I have a dozen blog posts started, but can’t get anyone to read the ones I am writing, so they’ve gone to the backburner.
I try to read for fun, but as soon as that idea pops into my head and a migraine hits so fast and so hard I can barely think.
I send pitches and applications for jobs– either I get no response, or an almost-immediate no thank you. Rejection is not exactly a motivator. I have so many ideas for articles or pitches to send, but the rejections are piling greater than the acceptances.
I buy various things or join different groups in the hopes that they’ll spur me on in my faith– but the items lay unused on my desk, and the messages and thoughts from those groups go unread. What’s the point, anyway?
I see other friends going for their dreams or writing getting accepted and published and a burning jealousy ignites that I never knew I had– not necessarily because I want what they have, but because at least they know what they want or are doing what they want– and they aren’t afraid to go for it. I want that. I want an action plan or a goal to set my sights on– but I’ve got none of that.
But lately when it does, I actually remember having dreams– and most of them involve me being around other people for various reasons. I have more community in my dreams than I do in my actual life. How fun is that! (sarcasm)
Every day, I just go through the motions. Get up, eat food, take care of the dogs, help mom when she needs it. I play on my laptop, watch Netflix– usually something I’ve already watched, as I don’t have the attention span to pay attention to a new show. I cook, I text my mom (and usually no one else unless I’m needed). More playing on the computer, reading social media and news articles I attempt to comprehend– my brain capacity isn’t retaining much these days. I stare at my computer doing things, listening to music, chatting with internet friends and the like, until I finally decide sleep needs to be had.
Then I take the pills that keep me alive, read my devotional, and go to bed. Usually somewhere between 1-3am is when that happens. Guess it’s a good thing I don’t have a normal 9-5 job, huh?
Then I wake up and start it all over again. And again.
I usually like routines, but I’m pretty darn sick of this useless one.
On a good day, I attempt to write or blog or apply for things or do something to move forward so I don’t have to live in my mom’s house forever. On really good days, I’ll put on clothes and leave my house– usually just to go to the store or take the dogs somewhere.
Most days, the only place I go is the mailbox, usually in my pajamas.
And when I want to leave the house, I can’t– no car, mom doesn’t feel well enough to go, or she makes me feel guilty for trying to have a life and wanting to leave the dogs. So I stay in my pajamas and stare at my computer screen some more, wishing for more.
Most days are accompanied by some sort of pain–whether it be physical aches or mental illness or the aching loneliness creeping in. I’m used to it at this point, so I just power through.
Power through to what exactly? What’s on the other side of that powering through, other than a new day of the same?
I don’t know. I’m merely floating through right now– no goal, no plan, no effing idea what I’m living for or why I’m even here.
In this season of being stalled, I’ve realized something.
From elementary school to my internship last year, I was constantly on the go– doing, working, moving; reading, writing, learning; volunteering, dancing, teaching. I spent so many years of my life going 100 miles an hour and full throttle at any and everything handed to me.
I had my days scheduled from morning to night, in classes or in work or doing extracurriculars or working events… I even scheduled my off time, the days I did nothing (and even on those days I usually had things planned!). My life centered around dates in my planner, or events on my calendar– free time wasn’t a thing most days unless forced.
Something, anything always took up my time. I couldn’t slow down. I didn’t want to.
Being busy kept me busy and away from thinking about myself and my life and how I was really doing or feeling. It kept the depression at bay– if I could just keep working or doing things, I wouldn’t have to think about me or my struggles. And it worked, for the most part.
But now. Now, nothing is scheduled. My days and nights are almost wide open. I have no plans. No more classes, no more extracurriculars, no more work events or activities or meetings tying up my time. My days are free, and my thoughts are free to wander through my days.
Most people would find this liberating.
And yet, I’ve never felt so trapped in my life.
When I moved home from my internship in June, I had plans of just being slow for a little while. I desperately needed a break after a year of working 100 miles an hour. But plans changed, life happened, and the hope of finding a job and moving out of my mom’s house and being busy as soon as possible again didn’t happen. And it hasn’t happened yet.
After living my whole life on an agenda or with a goal in front of me, suddenly I have nothing– no focus, nothing to push myself for or work towards.
I’ve mastered the art of busy. My whole life, I was always on-the-go, never slowing down, always on to my next thing or project. Even when I wasn’t on the go, I wanted to be and was usually planning my next excursion. But it wasn’t just because I wanted to do this activity or volunteer at that particular thing: being busy kept me from dealing with the hard things. It’s a lot easier to avoid sadness or anger when you go from one task to the next. It
was is easier to be needed for something or by someone than it is to be slow and present to myself.
There’s nothing to keep me from thinking about the hard stuff or actually feeling my feelings. There’s nothing keeping me from processing events or conversations in the present-tense; I don’t have plans or to-do lists to force the processing to happen later (or never,in my ideal world).
I have time now to do the things I’ve avoided for so long. All of those goals and schedules and agendas kept me busy enough to not do these hard things, and I was so thankful.
But the safety net of my well-laid plans and by-the-hour schedules has been let down.
All of the festering wounds are coming out in the quiet– and they won’t be ignored. All the thoughts and memories, all of the overwhelming sadness and fears. Everything is bubbling out from the surface where they’ve been stuffed for so long. Slowly they come out, chipping away the facade of busyness that I used to claim. It’s not there anymore– I have nothing to be busy about! So now these thoughts and feelings lay out raw and real in the open and it’s hurting and testing me in every way. I don’t want to work through these thoughts and feelings I’ve ignored for so long. But there’s nothing else to work on, so I can’t hide beneath excuses of schedules and busyness anymore.
My depression has been at the lowest I think it’s been in awhile during this time period. Or at least, this is the longest period that it’s been this hard– 8 months. All of this being stagnant and dwelling on the sadness and the struggle has made it harder than ever to get back up above the waves, even with medicine.
I need to go, move, work, do, or the depression takes over. The thoughts, the un-felt feelings hit like waves crashing, one on top of the other. These days of nothingness and menial tasks leave my mind wandering, unable to escape or ignore the hard stuff.
I used to have everything figured out– my plans, goals, dreams, desires.
Now, I’ve got nothing. And no idea on when I’ll figure anything out.
And zero energy or motivation to know where to go from here.
I used to be restless in seasons like this– hopeful, focused, energetic about the future, even if I didn’t know what it looked like ahead. Itching for something new.
I’m itching for something new, but have no clue what or how to get there.
I don’t have the motivation to be excited or energetic for a future I can’t figure out.
I barely have the energy or motivation to put one foot in front of the other.
I need to be busy again. I need a purpose, a goal, a career to focus my whole self on. Because as hard as it is going 100 miles an hour from task to task… living life feeling useless and alone and stuck with myself is a lot harder.
Being stalled is not good for me or my brain… even if it’s making me come face-to-face with my thoughts and feelings and sadness. But the problem is that because I have all the time in the world, I have all the time in the world to focus on the hard things. And I dwell, and I get lower than I’ve gotten in a long time, even with a medicine increase.
While I don’t need to stuff my feelings down under the guise of busy (something I’ve been working on), I also don’t need the brain space to dwell on it 24/7 like I’ve had for the last 8 months.
8 months of being sad are too many.
I’m sick of writing sad posts about sad things. Though honestly: I’m even more sick of living it.
My soundtracks during this season:
This song came out the day I started writing this. God is funny sometimes.
Another Audrey, because her words and voice have been a lifeline the last few months. This song especially.
Mat Kearney, another favorite of mine. This song asks the question I’ve been trying to answer for months: Where we gonna go from here? I wish I knew.