Between Now and “Normal”

Sometimes, the day after a tidal wave is horrible. My depression is still worse than normal, but all of the turmoil and the fight against nothingness has ended, leaving me empty and without something I can push back against. In a classic case of “the grass is always greener,” today I feel like I’d rather have the giant wave of exhaustion and apathy that was yesterday than the emptiness and casual disinclination toward everything that is today. I’m pretty sure that’s wrong. At least today, I don’t worry about getting crushed by the wave as it passes or ripped away from my anchor. Today, I don’t even worry.

Today, I don’t anything. I have a hard time telling if I’m hungry or tired, if I care about anything going on at any point, if I want to reach out to my support network, and so on. I don’t really care about anything but the things I know I’m supposed and even then, I only care because the reasoning part of my mind says I should. Nothing seems interesting and, while I know I’m capable of getting things done, I feel like there’s little reason to try to do so.

While that might sound a lot like apathy, I feel like the distinction is important. Apathy, to me, implies a certain amount of lethargy. It requires me to know I don’t want to do anything and to not care that I don’t want to do anything. It also almost always includes not feeling the need to be doing something. Today’s “casual disinclination” includes the lack of a desire to do anything, but mostly because nothing sounds interesting. I still feel the need to be doing something and that doing something would be beneficial to my well-being.

The best counters I’ve found to this include having routine tasks to do that easily flow into other things. Laundry is a good one, while making dinner or cleaning the kitchen also works very well.¬†Turning on a favorite movie or TV show helps, as does reading in general. Video games don’t usually work because they often include performing a series of tasks or completing various objectives. Reading is the most solid of them, so long as I’ve actually got a book I’m currently reading and enjoying. If I’m not in the middle of anything, starting a new book is hard and old favorites all feel boring. The only way through this, so far as I’ve found, is to go out and buy a bunch of books because I’ll definitely start reading at least one of them.

Cleaning works the most frequently because it feels useful and doesn’t take any emotional or mental investment on my part, so I can get physically active while letting my mind drift. Then I can switch to something that requires mental effort as well, gradually moving myself up from being entirely disengaged to being completely engaged. Eventually, I’ll be doing things and it’ll be easy to continue doing things.

Ultimately, when I’m in a mood like this, that’s the goal. Once I get moving on something, if I can get myself one hundred percent involved with it, I’ll break through the casual disinclination and be able to move past the lingering feelings of depression from the recent wave. Waiting always works, but it can take a lot of time and leaves me a little more prone to rough seas until I’ve finally gotten free.

One method I don’t use much is getting other people to help me through it. If they’re the right kind of person, know what they’re doing, and are willing to help pull me out of the lingering traces of my latest episode of heavy depression, I’ll be fine. If they’re not all three of those things, chances are very good that I’ll just sink into a foul mood or another big wave still appear on the horizon.

A lot of the time, whatever I try to do winds up just being a way to help me get through the time between when the crest of the wave passes and when I start to feel like I’m back to my “normal.” Which is also fine. That’s all I really need: a way to get through the hours between now and “normal” without wallowing in negative emotions or feeling helpless. Either one of those things will turn right into an internal storm and those ones are always horrible.

Right now, that means updating my blog with what turns out to be literally the only thing I can think about, focusing on what I’m going to make for dinner, and trying to make some kind of plans for the weekend so I’ve got something to look forward to. Something to put up on the horizon to encourage me to want to work through this current phase of disinclination and emptiness. Maybe I’ll even write more tonight, since I’ve already done the work of getting myself to a place where I can write at all.

Whatever I do, I’m pretty sure I should feel mostly back to normal by tomorrow or Friday. That’ll be nice.

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