It can be incredibly difficult look at the situations and circumstances that make up your life without feeling an element of despair at what is out of your control or how far you’ve wound up from where you want to be. It can feel so incredibly defeating to look at the sum of your day-to-day life if it adds up to something less than you wanted or feel you need. There’s a lot to be said about various types of rationalization or acceptance, from learning to let go of desire to embracing the inherent meaninglessness of life in order to determine your own meaning, but like most higher-minded concepts, there’s a yawning chasm between embracing or understanding those ideas and being able to find consolation or resolution in them.
I’m doing pretty well, for the most part, but it’s not easy to stay focused on that. It has been on my mind alot lately, as I’ve dealt with the on-going pandemic, the loss of sunlight, the growing chill of Fall and Winter, and the general rise and fall of my depression. I’ve done my best to keep myself focused, to keep my attention on what I can do, on moving myself forward even just a little bit each day, and I’m done a pretty good job of that. I’m dealing with NaNoWriMo without losing a step, running my various D&D games with almost no delays from me, and reaching out to the people around me when I need company or help. I would say that I’m doing better than I was a year ago.
But, some days, I still fail. Somedays, the exhaustion, the sameness of every day, the solitude and isolation of living alone in the pandemic, the sheer difference between the life I imagined I would have at 30 and the life I live now that I’m 30… Even just my own brain chemistry. It can become more than I can handle and it can overwhelm me to the point where I’m looking up YouTube videos I have saved on a playlist specifically for the times when I’m sad and I want to embrace the sadness. When pushing against the depression, loneliness, and despair get to be more than I can handle and I briefly let them overtake me.
It used to happen more often. This sort of rise and fall was a monthly occurence when I was younger, sometimes more frequent, sometimes less frequent, but it only really slowed down in the year or two prior to the pandemic. When my grandfather passed away and I realized how much I was hurting myself in order to continue being a part of my biological family. When I realized my family had changed in the decade since I left them for college and I was still trying to be the same person I’d been before I left when I was around them.
I’ve grown a lot, changed a lot. I’m better now, more capable, more prepared. But even after all this time, the waves can get too high, the storm can blow too strong, and I find myself adrift again, fighting to keep my head up.
And, you know, that’s okay. It’s not a fault, it’s not a failing, it isn’t anything that makes me inherently bad or unworthy. It just is and it is okay if I can’t fight it off constantly. We’re living in unprecendented times, I’m in an unknown and entirely unexpected place in my life, and I’m doing my best. I’m even doing well enough that I can say I’m largely doing well, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. I’m fine, even if I’m not fine right now.
As we enter another cold, dark winter in the US as the pendulum of politics swings, as economic tides rise and fall in never the right ways, as the pandemic rages despite how utterly preventable the last couple hundred thousand deaths were, despite the solitude in which we all still live as we work to protect the vulnerable among us… Make sure you extend yourself some grace. Grant yourself permission to not be okay, to struggle, and to stumble. You wouldn’t blame someone you love for having a problem like the one you’re facing, so extend the same amount of grace to yourself.
I’ve found it helps to actually talk to yourself if you’re struggling to do all that. Just say it out loud and you might be surprised at how much easier it is to be kind to yourself.