It’s that time of the year again. No, I’m not talking about Christmas.
The days are shorter, colder and grayer. “Winter is coming”, as Jon Snow would say. (Although, technically, it’s already here.) Though the Northerners from Game of Thrones refer to something different with that phrase, it IS the season that hits me the hardest and always throws me down the depression slide.
May I introduce to you? My Depression:
It is a sneaky guest. You are not always aware of its presence. It likes to walking and out of my life as it pleases. It doesn’t care about the time, the circumstances and it surely doesn’t think it might cause me any inconvenience.
I noticed its arrival last Sunday when I hosted a little Nabe (food cooked in a pot) party at our home with three of my Japanese friends. Things started really well - my friends were helping in the kitchen cutting vegetables, doing dishes, and setting the table etc., and there - out of the blue - it was. It greeted me with: “You don’t have much presence in your own home, do you?”.
My heart sank. I really didn’t want it to be here on this night. Trying to be a good host while making sure my depression didn’t act like an embarrassing drunk relative and making me look bad at my party was my scary outlook for the night, and I felt tense.
Being in its good mood Depression kept sending negative thoughts my way.
Good that your friend set the table. You lack creativity when it comes to folding napkins and arranging plates and glasses in a neat way.
Why can’t you be confident in your own kitchen and give instructions for how you want things to be done? I’m sure that they think you don’t really know what you are doing?
You look like a guest at your own table. You’re just sitting there while your friend just got up to serve the next round.
Yeah, now you wished you had studied Japanese more, don't ya? Not only is hard to follow the conversation, you also don’t know how to contribute to it, right?
No one is really listening when you speak or laughing when you try to be funny.
Even a child could have made this simple dessert and yet you still managed to ruin it.
And then the night was over. My friends had to catch their last trains and we promised to have another fun night sometime soon.
After I cleaned up the table and the kitchen, I finally threw myself on our sofa. My husband was still out with his friends and because I didn’t want to be alone with my irritating thoughts I called my mom. I told her about my disastrous baked pineapple dessert with vanilla ice cream, which was oversized, not well arranged, and difficult to eat because I had forgotten to cut out the center of the fruit. I told my mom how ashamed I felt. Though I tried to reason with myself, saying to myself that my friends probably really enjoyed the evening and didn’t give a real shit about the dessert, I couldn’t shake off the feeling of embarrassment. It was deep and strong like the roots of a big tree. My mother tried to cheer me up with a similar story she had experienced the other day. Bless her sweet heart. It helped a bit. We laughed about her 16 guests and her awkward tasting pastry, which usually is her Number 1 seller.
But it wasn’t just the dessert, I explained to her. The baked pineapple was just the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the whole week I hadn’t been able to do anything useful - I hadn’t written anything for my blog, there was no progress with my online business idea, lessons got cancelled and I started worrying about my next paycheck being too low. That led to thinking:
I don’t make enough money
I’ll never make enough money
My husband and I have no clear goals for our lives and we can’t stick to small plans.
And so on.
The night before the Nabe Party my 3-year old nephew had stayed overnight without his mom for the first time. As cute as he is, I felt happy when his mom picked him up the next morning and I was so exhausted that I needed one and half days to recover from it. I told my mom that I don’t think I could ever have my own children - I wouldn’t have the patience, the humor and the physical strength to take care of them.
All of these thoughts came down to one thing: They all made me feel like a failure.
Although a good amount of me knows that this is not true, I have to actively fight those negative thoughts on a regular basis, and all THAT makes me feel so tired.
The more I fight against it, the harder it hits back.
I don’t really want to give Depression the idea that I’m okay with its presence. But I’m wondering if that’s actually the only way to deal with it.
I don’t have to be good friends with it. I don’t have to give it a name. But maybe I could be a bit friendlier to it? In the end its just trying to do its job.
I’m not saying to ACCEPT what it says. Quite the contrary.
I’m merely saying that understanding how it functions, could help me deal better with it.
Instead of making this about me, I could try to make this about IT. More than me, Depression is the one with issues. Come to think of it, despite being very smart it is quite an unhappy fellow and it doesn’t want anyone else to be happy, so it creates fear and lives from it.
Once I fully get the way it works, I’ll have a little more control over the thoughts it puts in my head. I don’t think I can avoid Depression visiting me but I can work onreducing its power over me.
On a positive note, Depression made me aware of wanting to be a great host - like my mom - mainly by feeling more well-prepared. This week I will cook Christmas dinner for some friends at our place. I’ll make sure I’ll plan everything ahead, buy everything necessary in advance, get a good night sleep, and enjoy the process. Christmas dinner, here I come!