Where does depression end and a person begin?
I find myself dwelling on this a lot lately. As my anxiety has grown quieter I’ve been blessed with greater clarity of thought – and with clearer thinking comes a painful amount of honesty. I’m excruciatingly aware that I’m not nearly as interested in the world around me as I should be. The things that anxiety and exhaustion were physically preventing me from doing just don’t seem appealing even now the barriers have come down and I’m capable of being more active.
Go for a walk on a sunny day? I’d rather stay indoors. Spend time with my friends? Could do, but I’d rather watch something mindless on the TV by myself.
Diminished interest in life is a hallmark depression symptom, I know this. Only my apathy doesn’t feel like an illness, it feels like me. I don’t feel like mental illness aliens have hijacked my brain, it feels very much like I’m in the driving seat. I just don’t seem to want to shift beyond first gear.
Forcing yourself to repeatedly do something that you not only don’t want to do, but can’t see the point in doing, is the most un-natural thing. With depression even the simplest daily activities become challenging and meaningless. But just how much of my current idleness stems from mental illness, as opposed to plain laziness and dissatisfaction, is often unclear. When I’m having an existential crisis over the point in buying a bag of apples, I know that the spectre of depression looms nearby. When I don’t want to walk to the shop because…I don’t want to walk to the shop, it’s possible I just need slapping in the face with a wet kipper and sending on my way.
When not wanting to do things becomes a habit, you have to make a real effort to step out of your comfort zone. Einstein defined doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results as insanity. Well, Albert, I’ll give you gravity and the whole theory of relativity business, but I have to disagree with these pearls of wisdom. I’m not deluded enough to expect that repeatedly nailing a smile to my face and forcing myself out of the house will fix my problems, but it has to be a start.
It’s time to stop using my illness as a crutch every time I don’t want to engage with the outside world, and get back to a vague semblance of normal, active life. And who knows, if I keep pushing myself to go through the motions, perhaps one day I’ll actually enjoy interacting with society again.
Stranger things have happened.