How My Mornings With Depression and Anxiety Have Changed
Just three years ago, I wrote about a difficult morning with depression and anxiety. Recently, the article came back up and was an incredible reminder of the progress I’ve made. I didn’t want to write this piece implying if you just worked hard, your depression will go away, it may never, but things have changed dramatically for me and I just hope they can for other people whose minds torture them.
My eyes shoot open at the sound of my alarm. I look over and grab my phone, catching up on messages from people I’ve now met across the globe. I check those spammy promotional emails promising sales on things I never need. I’m groggy, but there is no heavy gray weight over me other than the literal weight of my weighted blanket. I turn over and give my husband a kiss on the cheek with a “good morning.” He stirs, but doesn’t open his eyes yet.
It’s time to get out of bed for me so I can get ready before my work from home starts at 9:00 a.m. I sit down on the cold floor to pet my dog who’s come to greet me. He flips around so I can scratch his belly while I tell him how much I love him. This new start to the morning wasn’t a routine I knowingly re-set up. There was no article I read that said, “Start your mornings this way for an easy mindfulness hack.” I’m just able to do this, to derive joy from this, so I do.
It’s hard getting up from the floor since my dog is so snug between my legs, but I know the day awaits, so I get up and go to brush my teeth, comb my hair, and wash my face. This is effortless, too. All I’m thinking about while I do this is how much I have to do that day, the to-do list firming up in my head as I keep going. I go downstairs and put food in my dog’s bowl and give him a little pat on the head before I step away and start making my smoothie, and then walk over to the hot water machine to start my English breakfast tea brewing.
I used to hear at least three voices of consciousness in my mind at all times while I do all of these steps. Now, it’s just… not silence, but it’s not loud either, just mundane thoughts about the day ahead.
Who is this person? How did she get here? Was it the yoga? No, I’ve been practicing yoga for about nine years now, all while having depression. Was it the mindfulness? Same as the yoga. The eating healthy? Exercising? No, I did all of these things too while I was depressed. Pushing myself harder and harder because people would love telling me how I just wasn’t doing enough and that’s why it wasn’t working. I would fall into loops of pushing harder and hating myself because it wasn’t working, which made me feel broken beyond repair. Was it the medication? Sure, that definitely helped! And I’m still on some of it.
The difference, I think, is all of it and nothing. The difference is my mind actually rests. It’s not going 1,000 miles a minute. You can do every exercise, but if they’re not sticking to you, you’re just going through the motions. It’s like doing reps in a gym. Sure, you can make your arm go up and down with a weight in it and that will eventually lead to results. But if you take a moment, engage muscles and deliberately, with thought, use them, the results will come with fewer reps. Except imagine if your muscles didn’t know how to be engaged and just kind of dangled there, going through the motions no matter how hard you think about them. That’s depression.
I used to feel like there would be a key that would unlock my mind because every few months or so, there would be an epiphany that would bring relief from the horrible self-loathing. It would last just a few days, but it was enough to let me know if I kept going, it might last longer. Now, I recognize the supply of keys is endless and life is about constantly opening doors in my mind, understanding my past and trauma.
So, I finish feeding my dog. We go out to the yard so he can do his business and I throw a ball for him to catch for a little. My smoothie is done by time I get back inside. My tea is ready to sip. I stand looking out my window into my front yard and tune into my thoughts. Nothing mean has been said yet. It’s time to work. And I am ready.
Getty image by iprogressman