Same Old New Day

I don’t know why it’s so hard to stay awake until midnight when you mean to do it.

Hubby and I watched a movie and ate some pizza last night and at 9pm, I needed a nap in order to make it to midnight. He woke me at 11 and we watched some YouTube videos about politics and screamed at the TV for awhile, and at 11:50, I got sleepy again but managed to hold out for the last ten minutes, drink some ginger ale (I can’t drink due to a medical condition and he opted out of alcohol as a show of solidarity), and then I gave up and went to bed.

It’s just weird to me because most nights, I’m up past 2 or 3 in the morning without much effort because I’m so involved in whatever project I happen to be working on that particular night and then I get up around 8:30 in the morning, but not last night. Maybe 2020 just decided to finish wearing me completely out yesterday. I woke up at 9:30 today, ate leftover pizza with orange juice, and here I am.

I wonder sometimes when I’ll actually be an adult. I’m 41 years old and still live like I’m a kid. Is it because I don’t have any kids? I don’t know. I eat cold pizza for breakfast, struggle to keep enough toilet paper in the house, pay bills at the last minute, never make my bed. I did spend the majority of my teen years being an adult though, so maybe I’ve decided in my middle age to regress back to my teen years.

My former therapist was working with me on inner child therapy for about a year before she was dismissed from her position at the clinic. I haven’t seen her since and I suppose she’s not allowed to be in contact with me. We talked about a lot of things related to an adult, such as myself, sometimes needing to give concessions to her inner child as a means of learning who she really is. It all started because my depression at that time was beginning to manifest it ways it really never had before.

I’ve had major depressive disorder for my entire adult life and probably back into most of my teen years too–though I never sought help for it that early–and it was usually driven by overeating, constant lying around or sleeping, burying myself in addictive behaviors, hiding from the world, and neglect of responsibilities. But about a year ago, I confessed to her that I wasn’t eating. This was definitely not typical of me. I have always enjoyed food, whether during a depressive episode or not. She asked me why I wasn’t eating. My answer surprised me. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it until she asked me. I said I didn’t feel like I deserved to eat. I would make something to eat for my husband. I would feed my cats. I would feed a stranger who came to my door. But I wasn’t willing to feed myself. I would sometimes go for days without eating anything and survive on Coca-Cola. I was sick all the time, felt week and achy, and slept more hours of the day than I was awake. And it had been an escalating problem for well over a year by that point. In a year’s time, I had lost half my body weight.

She asked me to go home and–using my non-dominant hand–draw a picture of my inner child, as detailed as possible. I hated the assignment. I am not artistic, can’t really draw with my dominant hand, and felt embarrassed about the entire thing. I had to bring it in to show her, to prove that I’d done it. But I did it. She asked me to describe the drawing, explain the choice of color, clothing, everything. When I finally asked her why I had done this, she said, “You know this little girl. She’s someone you’ve thought about, someone you love. Would you deny her food?” It started to sink in. I’ve had a really difficult time my whole life with the concept of self-care. There always seemed to be someone else to care for, some other responsibility that seemed more vital at the time, so that if I needed something, like medical care, or new clothes, or a haircut, or whatever, I would feel so guilty about having it because someone else in my life needed it more than I did, according to my own judgment. And my depression finally got so bad that the little energy I had was being spent on taking care of whoever else was around instead of myself, and I was the one who needed that care the most.

My assignment going forward was to always put Little Me on the top of my priority list. She had to be fed, bathed, clothed, nurtured, before everyone else in my life. I worked toward it, and my therapist and I really got into inner child therapy after that, trying to establish the roots of my depression and anxiety, and I learned a lot of interesting things about myself and how I view my own standing in the world. But then I lost my therapist, and the six new ones that the clinic has assigned to me have been incredibly disappointing. Five in a row have moved on to other jobs, and the sixth–and best–has at least been a good sounding board for me, but she’s not as effective for me. I don’t feel like I’m getting anything accomplished, and I keep feeling like I’m sinking deeper. It may be that not being able to sit down with her in the office for our sessions makes it difficult to really feel like I’m doing the work. We meet over video chat because of the pandemic, and it’s nice to be able to see each other, but it’s not good enough. I really feel like I need good help before things get really bad again. She asked me once to rate my depression on a scale of one to ten, one being the best and ten being the worst. I told her an average day felt like seven. Our goal is to get me to a four or below. Today, this week, this month, I’ve been consistently at an eight. It’s not going well.

So I’m doing what I can. I try to give myself consistency, like a certain thing that I do every day at a specific time. I have done well with that. A sense of responsibility–even if it’s just responsibility to myself–motivates me to get out of bed every day, which makes it easier to do other things I know I must do. But nearly every day is a struggle to just do anything. Cooking dinner, taking a shower, cleaning a litter box, all of these little jobs feel like the hardest thing in the world to do, and I feel like I’m trudging through liquid tar just to do them. I’m exhausted after the least thing, and yet I have a hard time sleeping most nights.

If you don’t suffer from depression and anxiety, you’re very fortunate. I really wouldn’t wish this on anyone. When it’s this bad, every day begins with dread and ends with exhaustion. Is it any wonder I never want to go to sleep?

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