Someone I care a lot about recently made the decision to go into rehab. And when he told me about it, for a split second I was jealous. Jealous. Wow. What?
I was jealous because he has a defined problem - an addiction. It has a name, and it has a general path to recovery. It's not an easy path by any means, but it's a path. A way out.
I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager. It was in my blood - my grandmother (whom I adored) was severely bipolar, and two of her sisters had to do ECT (for the uninitiated, that's electroconvulsive therapy). I'm sure there are other people in my family that have struggled, but my parents are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to anything personal. These are the people who failed to tell my brother that my dad was in the ICU following an operation (which they also didn't tell him about) and who didn't tell my sister about the death of our great-grandmother for two months because they didn't want it to upset her. Which is fine except that 1) my sister was in college at the time and 2) my sister didn't particularly care for our great-grandmother. Not to the extent that she would have celebrated the woman's exit from the world, but she certainly wouldn't have been driven to distraction by her grief. This is the woman who, during her final visit with us, was so senile that the only one of us she remembered was my brother, and that was only because went with my dad to pick her up and drive her back to Arkansas from West Virginia. She thought my sister was my brother's girlfriend and she thought I was the maid. It was a fun visit.
My depression is one of the reasons that I go months without posting anything. Little things, things that shouldn't even matter, pile up on top of me until I feel paralyzed. I remember when I was in college, I would spend hours watching movies in my dorm room, because I literally was too bogged down with what I should be doing. If I was studying, I felt like I should be practicing my clarinet (I was a music major). If I was practicing, I felt like I should be working out. If I was working out, I felt like I should be cleaning my room. If I was cleaning my room, I felt like I should be at work. If I was at work, I felt like I should be studying. And so on and so on, until the guilt spiral pulled me under and I just sat in my room, doing nothing. Staring mindlessly at the television, not even really aware of what I was watching, just needing something to drown out the voices screaming in my head that I was a failure, that I was letting everyone down, that I wasn't good enough or smart enough or whatever enough to deserve to be happy.
The worse part about depression is that there isn't a clear path out. Not even a general guideline. There's no demon rum or demon drug - it's just your own broken brain. And the cure can be worse than the disease in terms of side effects and long-term exposure and all that jazz. It's an invisible enemy who already knows your playbook.
I guess that's part of the reason I was envious of my friend in rehab. Being in rehab is a socially acceptable thing. You can tell people you went to rehab, and they are generally sympathetic. And if you bow out of a cocktail party because you're a recovering alcoholic or decline pain medication at the dentist because of a pill problem, it's totally understandable. But if you bow out of the party because you hate everything and everyone on that particular evening, or if you decline the meds because you're afraid that in a weak moment you'll down the entire bottle, people look at you like you're crazy. And God forbid you ever seek any kind of inpatient treatment. People find out you've spent time in a psychiatric facility and they lock their doors and stop giving you knives at cookouts.
I've been profoundly unhappy lately, and I'm trying to get to the bottom of it. I want to make some changes in my life, and I know how hard it's going to be. I've always worked better with a solid goal in mind, so my psychiatrist suggested I set some goals for myself. Which brings me to the reason for this post. I want to document my progress (or lack thereof). I want to have some kind of record of the successes and failures, because as with anything, if you identify the source of the problem you can fix it. Maybe I have triggers in my life that I don't even realize. Maybe this will help me find them.
I like symmetry in my life, so I've settled on six. Six goals in six weeks. Not necessarily one per week. Some will take more effort than others.
The six goals that I have chosen are:
1. Finish five previously-started craft projects. I have dozens of half-finished projects scattered around the house. I need to pick five - any five - and finish them completely.
2. Kick my sugar addiction.
3. Invest in myself. This one's a little more complicated to explain, but I'll post more later on it.
4. Post in this blog at least three days a week. I know I won't post every day. Especially on days when I work. I'm so exhausted by the time I get home that I barely have time to kiss the baby before I fall asleep. But three days is totally doable.
5. Meet five new people. I'm one of those incredibly awkward extroverted introverts. I'm totally cool with being the center of attention for five minutes, but I'll need three days alone with my kid and my thoughts to recover. I'm also painfully awkward in social situations. But I need to step outside my comfort zone.
6. Learn a new skill. Take a class in something. Preferably something that involves physical activity.
So yeah, some of those are going to be easier than others. The sugar one is going to be a killer. But I'm determined to make it work. We'll see how it goes.