I’ve basically decided that the video blog I’d started doing is over. I’ll stick to my normal blogging, since writing is my forte, after all. Maybe I’ll add a video blog now and then if I’m feeling particularly generous, but blog posts here on robinhoodwest don’t have a size limit that I’ve discovered, which is useful for when I have a lot to talk about.
Today, I want to talk to you about the gray zone. This is not only about my lack of emotion, but how depression makes me feel like an entirely different person than who I am when I’m healthy.
The healthier me is always doing things to move forward, always striving for the next improvement, always trying to be a better person and develop skills and talents and relationships. I’m logical. My brain is sharp. I work out and I run. I read new books and study new topics, without having to do so for a grade. I learn new skills, like knitting or jewelry-making. I experiment with writing styles. My mind pieces things together with electric intuition, sensing patterns, making connections, compiling the parts into a whole and appraising it in seconds.
The healthy me likes to go out and be with friends and other people, sensing their ability to enlighten my understanding of the human experience, knowing that I can assist them with my insights, and that I can learn from them as well. The healthy me likes to experience new and exciting things. She goes on hikes and to museums, zoos, and aquariums (if she has the money for those latter things).
She’ll read whole series of books in a week or so, and then find a new one to start on. On average, she’ll write 10 fresh pages of a novel every day.
She likes working, and does it well. Everything she sets out to do, she learns to excel at.
I’m not even being boastful. That’s how the other me is. The healthy me. She rocks. She goes out, and she gets what she wants. Just ask my Mom. I’ve always been that way. Veni, vidi, vici. I come, I see, I conquer.
I did an interview with someone the other day who needed to talk to a first generation college student. One of the questions he asked was whether I had any mentors or people in my life who really pushed and encouraged me to go to college. I answered no, because I’m pretty sure everyone knew I was going to go whether or not I was encouraged to do so. (For the record, I wasn’t discouraged, either. Everybody let me take my own course on this, since I’d already decided what I wanted to do.)
I didn’t have any role models either…unless Jesus Christ and Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings count. Not that I didn’t have good people in my life: It’s just that I realized everyone is fallible and human and I couldn’t set any of them up to be an idol. I set my own standards of quality and achievement and I went for it.
And when I was preparing for college, going from being home schooled to aiming for an out of state university, I taught myself how to cope with and succeed at standardized testing. When I took the GED, I was in the 99th percentile for my writing skills.
Sometimes I forget about that and how bad*** I was.
And also super intense and driven. My gosh. How could people stand it?
Besides mellowing out a bit with age, a lot of this has been tempered down by my depression, anxiety, etc. I don’t have that same zeal and zest for life that I used to have. I’m not the hell-bent lass I used to be. I’m tired.
The first few years that I struggled with depression, I tried to keep pushing. I still got good grades and kept up with writing my novels.
I’m not excited about life and what I can achieve-not like I used to be. It comes back now and then, but not often.
One of my major depressive episodes began in January 2013 and didn’t end until November or December of 2015. When it ended, I started socializing more than I had. I started reading loads of books again. I reapplied for college. I worked out and ran and had a close relationship with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I went back to school and had a 4.0 GPA.
This only last until mid-July 2016, when I sank into another depressive episode. The drive to succeed died, again.
Going from someone who needed encouragement from no one to a girl who can’t even convince herself to go for a run is…disappointing. Hard. It’s painful to look back at how I used to be and then at how I am now and realize how much depression changes me.
But these are the facts. You wonder about the stories you hear where someone goes from being successful in the business world to being a recluse, or about brilliant students who suddenly and inexplicably commit suicide. We’re not the people that we used to be.
When I was seventeen I did make-up work for all the days of early-morning seminary that I’d missed in the last 4 years, so that I could graduate with 100% attendance. These days, I can’t even muster the motivation to do homework due tomorrow, or even to read the material for the next day’s lecture.
So who am I, these days? Someone who is tired, who has trouble accomplishing anything or achieving any of her goals.
Most of who I am now is an absence of being. A gray person, without substance, uncommitted to her form. Transitory? In the middle of change? Except instead of being the cocoon of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, I feel like the brown dead leaves that are falling from the trees before the cold, unmoving winter begins. Something decomposing, fading into nothingness.
I can come back from this, as evidenced by the break in the gloom I experienced last year. But it fluctuates from week to week and month to month. This is what life with chronic depression means.
It can be like the rotating of the seasons, except that you have no general idea of how long the cold and the gloom will last, or when spring will come again, or how abruptly summer will turn into fall and then to winter. A depressive episode can last for years, to give way to a three month spring and summer. A depressive episode can last for a month, and the following summer can linger for five years, and you may think that winter shall never come again, only to meet its twilight the very next week.
I’m not the person I want to be. It’s hard to accept that I’m not entirely in control of how well I do. I was such a fierce child, so free-willed and independent; I fully believed that I was the captain of my destiny. I still believe that my ultimate destination is up to me and the choices I make: However, the phases and seasons I go through in the meantime are not something I can predict or control.
At the moment, I’m stuck. I’m in the gray domain. I’m not progressing at the rate I wish I was, the rate at which I used to move. And it’s painful to realize that I’m not the woman I could be if I was healthy.
Here I am: Waiting for the return of better days, the dawn and spring; for the return of the woman who can rule the world. She’ll come back someday.