Thoughts About a New Year, From Me and My 'Depression Sweatshirt'
It’s 10:08 and the last Sunday of 2018. Normally, I would be battling with my usual Sunday night anxiety and while I’m still anxious, I do not have to go back to work until Wednesday. I’m in my office listening to a podcast, working on my bullet journal, drinking some coffee and snuggled in what I can only affectionately call my “depression sweatshirt.”
I know what you’re thinking. The addition of the depression sweatshirt to my very fancy attire of leggings and tank top must mean that I’m feeling depressed. Actually, no, it’s not a beaming marquee to broadcast my daily mood like the diner in my town broadcasts the “pie of the day.”
Rather, this faded blue sweatshirt with hipster thumb holes is like a “big kid” version of a security blanket.
This sweatshirt, no matter the terms of endearment I give it, is just an article of clothing. Eventually, I’m going to have to face the cold, harsh reality that it may no longer be wearable. I won’t lie to you — there’s a damn good chance I’m going to get misty about it because my emotions are dysregulated. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) makes me cry about the article of clothing that’s abandoning me and obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) makes me seethe because my immovable, unshakeable, resolve, ahem, “routine” is being disrupted.
This is the point where I tell you that, unlike the sweatshirt, my mental illnesses will never go away.
In addition to OCPD and BPD, I have ADHD. These diagnoses are garnished with generous amounts of anxiety and depression. And on the last Sunday of 2018, I do not allow myself the wistful musings that maybe I’ll finally be “cured” in 2019.
Yes, you will find that some medical professionals choose to use the term “remission.” I am not a medical professional but I am a professional at being mentally ill. BPD clouds my judgment with the trademark “black and white” thinking, however, it’s only when considering my mental illnesses that I can think in terms of grey.
“Grey” is the only thing that helps while I am seeing my “rap sheet” of mental illnesses through to the end. And I think we all know what “end” I’m talking about. My mental illnesses may not kill me, but for me, they are terminal.
This may sound depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. My OCPD demands I am doubly prepared for everything I’m up against. So, I’m going into 2019 with the understanding that, while I may not be cured, I can make the symptoms as manageable as possible.
How will I go about doing that? Well, first, I will recognize that I need to treat myself with kindness. There will be many times when I do not feel like doing this, but I must treat myself with the care and consideration that I so desperately needed when I did not receive it. I will not make unreasonable demands through a laundry list of new year’s resolutions that exist for the single purpose of making me feel like shit when I do not reach them. Cut back on coffee? Yeah, maybe for like two minutes.
How should you go about doing that? Honestly, I don’t have the answer because I’m just one person in the world trying to do “person-things.” I know, I’m prolifically spoken when I want to be.
Actually, I don’t have the answer for much, but that’s mostly because I’m too busy taking the life-long ride on the hot-mess express in my brain.
But maybe, we can be a little kinder to ourselves in 2019.
Maybe, we can be a little more patient, too.
And maybe, those who live their lives free of mental illness could be supportive. If you have been, keep up the good work. If you haven’t, it’s time to start.
So, at the close of 2018, pour one out for your favorite “depression item” for treating you well throughout the year. I mean Jesus, I know it’s just a sweatshirt and all, but damn if it didn’t make my life a little easier on the days I needed it the most.
Getty image via dvulikaia