Depression sucks. You get all geared up to post three times a week, work on writing every day (at least a little bit), and maybe sleep a little more if you can do all that before midnight before getting slapped back down into the emotional pits by the heavy hand of ever-present depression.
My depression always takes the form of exhaustion. Sure, there’s a certain degree of listlessness and negativity that goes with it, but the constant, ever-present face of my depression is a sense of exhaustion always hovering at the edge of my mind.
Any kind of exhaustion or tiredness I experience can trigger it to come tumbling down on top of me. A frustrating problem at work that is intellectually taxing; a long day of dealing with people and the requisite emotional output; a long hike or hitting the gym hard. All of these things can trigger it or compound it, leaving me unable to break free of it.
This exhaustion is always there, always beckoning me toward lethargy and, eventually, a complete lack of motion. It takes energy to throw that feeling off, to push out of the haze it pulls me towards. The whole thing can be frustrating because pushing it off often results in it coming back worse once I’m no longer actively pushing it away.
When it starts to take over, I sometimes have to give into it and let it slow me down, let myself drift toward the precarious edge hinted at in coy phrases like “a complete lack of motion” or “the deepest rest.” Its terrifying. Which is also exhausting.
You can probably see the issue there.
I spend a lot of time managing myself and administering self-care in order to avoid the feedback loop I just described. Thankfully, this sort of management and caution plays right into most of my obsessions and compulsions from my OCD, so it can often be counter-intuitively relaxing. The most relaxing thing I did in the past month was take an entire day, on which I was off of work for a holiday my employer observes, to rearrange my bookshelves, setup my video game console recording gear, and to reorder my entire bedroom to better reflect the direction I see my life and my mind going.
There is a lot of psychology and philosophy out there that suggests the environment one finds most relaxing is one that best reflects oneself. Most people who know me would say that’d be somewhere in nature, far away from the city, where a sense of peace and steadfast endurance exists. Mountains or great forests.
To me, though, the place that best reflects me is my abode.
I live on the edge of cities, caught between the quiet I need and the chaos I love to watch. I’m surrounded by a frenetic energy I don’t understand and a populace I struggle to connect to. Within that bubble of disorder and unknowable insanity, I have a place I live that is–aside from the portions effected by my current roommate–strictly ordered, neat, and calm. I decorate in more muted colors, favor ambient music and light that lends itself toward creating a calm environment, and tend to prefer the quiet of my own company over the obtrusive noise of other people.
My mind is like that. Longer ago than I can even remember, I create a small place of order, quiet, and calm in my mind, tucked away inside the chaos created by how I grew up and the chemical imbalances biology has bestowed upon me. A small room of peace amidst the constantly growing chaos of my mind. There is no place more relaxing to me than my room or home. When I meditate, I always seek out that place of peace within myself.
I do need to get away sometimes. There is a huge value to be found in the quiet tranquility of a cabin far away from any city or civilization. There is a huge value to be found in the experience of a new city and the new chaos that is both challenging and rewarding. Sometimes the strength you need is found by going outside yourself and sometimes its found by going deep inside yourself.
When I really need to relax, to let the exhaustion finally slide away on its own, I spend my time in the peace and quiet of my home. I sit and read for hours at a time. I reorder my space and let it represent the less tangible reordering of my mind. I cut off all communication to the outside world aside from one or two lines to particular individuals and just let myself sort of expand to fill the space. Stop trying to cram everything into that tiny little space in my head and let the order I’ve created do the work for a while.
I’m pretty sure its coping mechanism, but I’m not terribly concerned so long as it helps me push back against the ever creeping exhaustion. Pretty much everything in life is a coping mechanism to one degree or another.