I don’t know about you all, but I often feel like I’m both okay and not okay, sometimes in a ping-ponging sort of way that’s a little crazy-making, and sometimes – even more confusedly – both at the same time.
On one hand, I recognize that I’m extremely lucky and privileged in so many ways; if I ever followed through on keeping a gratitude journal, it would be in tiny print and overflowing. I spend my spare time semi-compulsively making greeting cards and occasionally baring my soul on the internet, so I’m not going to pretend like I don’t have an almost-embarrassing amount of freedom and time on my hands. On the flip side, I’ve been through my share of fucked-up shit (i.e. trauma, as my therapist prefers to call it) that I feel like I’m perpetually crawling out from under, hauling my emotional baggage around day to day, place to place, like a pound of bad pennies. What all this adds up to is very confusing to me.
So, as when I try to solve most things in my life, I’ve made a list. This is a list of things I have to do before I’m allowed to give up on life and crawl back into bed: I run an errand. Then I listen to a podcast and clean the stove. Then I go sit at a coffee shop. Then I exercise. Then I call a friend. I turn to this on those days that are hard, when everything seems inexplicably wrong, when I’m completely paralyzed by all the things that I can’t fix – in my own life, in the lives of those I care about, in our society. Those are the times I find myself wanting to sleep, not because I’m tired, but because I don't want to have to engage with the world.
This list is essentially a pact that I’ve made with myself. When I feel like I can't do anything, I pick some things from the list and do them anyways. I think of it more as a menu of options than a set of to-dos: I can go for a run or take a walk, read a book or watch a movie, go out for drinks or invite a friend over. It doesn’t matter much what I choose to do, as long as I do it. And, at the end of the day, I might find something interesting, distracting, or even fun during my self-imposed scavenger hunt for sanity. Or it might still end up just being a really bad day. But at least I'll have tried, and that’s what counts.
The “things to do when you’re in a depressive spiral before you crawl into bed (from one human to another.)” print is based on this mental list of ways to spend the day when I don’t feel like spending it. I made it because I needed it, and I hope that some of you find it useful too, whether you have the occasional bout of the blues, or are going through a particularly hard time, or struggle with chronic depression, or whatever it is you're dealing with. Please take what’s interesting and doable, leave what isn’t, and add your own. And then get out there. Because the world needs you to participate in it. It would be such a shame if you didn’t.
With love from one human to another,