Today I opened my window.
Nobody warns you when you’re diagnosed with depression, or any other mental illness, how difficult some small tasks can be. Watering the plants is draining when you don’t have the motivation to keep yourself alive. Cooking a meal is a chore you don’t have energy for when you’d rather lay in bed and starve. Going to work can seem like the end of the world some days.
You see, depression drains you. Spending all day in your own mind with only negative thoughts about yourself is exhausting. You know it’s not healthy, but you can’t stop yourself. You know people are getting tired of you, so you isolate yourself.
Then sometimes, you feel better. You’re on top of the world and you think “I can beat this. My depression isn’t bothering me.” And it’s a good day. Those days are great, but they’re numbered. You can take your medication, do your yoga, hang out with friends all you want, but some days it’s not going to work.
So today I opened my window. As difficult of a chore as it was, I opened it and let some sunlight in. I felt so guilty still. I thought, “well yesterday I went to the gym and I ate 3 whole meals! Today I only opened my window, I must be falling back.” And I felt like a failure. Today I couldn’t make myself breakfast, but I could yesterday. Today I couldn’t change out of my pajamas, but I planned a whole outfit yesterday.
Doing something is better than doing nothing. Even if it’s small, even if it’s all you can manage at the time, even if it’s a microscopic difference in your life. Because even when it’s small, you’re a small step farther than you were earlier.
When your heart has to consciously work hard to continue beating, when you have to force yourself to keep breathing air to your lungs, when you have to convince yourself to keep living, doing anything at all hurts. Anyone with depression will recognize the feeling, the feeling of heaviness in your stomach to put socks on.
Your mental illness takes over your life. Your mental illness wants to control what you can and can’t do. Your mental illness convinces you you’re worthless. Even when you’re hearing from everyone you love that you’re not, your mental illness has the last laugh, because it’s literally in your head.
Your depression doesn’t have a linear timeline. It doesn’t get better every day, like some people will tell you. Those people have never fought a battle in their own mind. Just because you had the energy for daily tasks yesterday, doesn’t mean you will today. Hell, yesterday you could’ve felt like you could win the Olympics, and today you feel like a bum on the side of the road. You can hit one extreme from another so fast it’ll give you whiplash.
On the days you can’t get out of bed, on the days you can’t escape your thoughts, on the days you took your medication and it should feel better but it doesn’t, don’t think about yesterday. Don’t think about last week. Don’t think about what you could accomplish back then because today is a different day and today is hard. Take it one day at a time, take it one hour at a time, take it 5 minutes at a time if you have to.