The last few days have been a doozy.
I woke up Thursday feeling lethargic. I actually spent the whole day in bed, watching movies. The next day, my period started, and the following, everything I tried to do seemed to fall apart. I was beating myself up.
I always have ways of pulling myself out of a funk, but the usual methods weren’t working. Baking? Nope. Movies? Maybe “Speak” wasn’t the best choice. Write this blog? With what words? What’s the point? By the time I thought to try something else, I had expended all my energy.
So I spent three days lying in bed and watching movies because I couldn’t bring myself to do anything else.
Saturday afternoon, my boyfriend Matt told me his day started off terribly, and we reached a topic of conversation that we rarely talk about: his mental health.
Normally, when he reaches out to me, it’s about work or errands or things that are tangible. Things that can be fixed. I can offer him support and advice, and he can resolve the problem.
But we weren’t talking about tangible problems. We were talking about the things that hurt that you can’t always see. Mental health isn’t something you can put a bandaid on and “call it a day.”
Because of the rarity of these conversations with someone I love, I put aside my own sadness and got up from my bed. This was too important.
Pulling yourself out of a rut can be difficult, especially if you don’t know how you got there in the first place. Experiencing depression—there isn’t always a culprit. Some days, it just happens. The chemicals in our brains say “Hey, those things you planned to do today? Yeah, don’t do them.”
It’s overwhelming and compelling. Having some intangible concept hanging over your head, reminding you that you’re imperfect—it’s so easy to just let it take control. It’s easy to think, “You’re not good enough, you’re not worthy, you’re not making a difference,” and also think, “Yeah, you’re right.” So you give up.
In this situation, it was more important to take care of someone else who needed help standing back up. He needed me in an important time, and I was going to help. Depression be damned.
In college, I took an ethics class in which we talked about helping people when you can without making the situation worse. If someone is drowning in a lake, and you don’t know how to swim, don’t go jumping in the lake to try to save them. Why? Because then there will be two people drowning in a lake, and the action to help, while well-intended, has caused more harm than good.
But in this proverbial sense, the demons in our heads are the lake and we are drowning, reaching for the light to guide us to shore. If two of you are drowning in this lake, it’s still doing more harm than good, but in your head, the lake can only drown you if you let it.
Sometimes you have destroy the things that hurt you, and from the remains, create something beautiful.
And if you can manifest a life raft that will help you both, do it. Recognize that you are the only person who can change what’s going on in your life. And if you can lend a hand to others, get them another inch closer to that light, then why wouldn’t you?
If you’ve been feeling down lately, I hope you know you’re not alone. Everyone is fighting a battle you can’t see. If someone reaches out, you just might be able to fight it together and get them the help they need.
Stay kind, stay strong.
Note: I’m just one person with my own experiences. If you are struggling with mental health or have had experiences that are seldom talked about in society, and you’re interested in contributing your story, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.