For New York, it was an Indian Summer.
But now, Fall descends — and with it, my depression.
I watch the leaves outside my bedroom window turn from a waxy green to a papery yellow. Literally. — I watch it happen. — I haven’t left my bed.
If I’m not at work, I’m under the covers. My bike has lost it’s appeal. I’m in a constant state of tired, or angry, or irritable, or hungry, or not hungry — I know all these tell-tale signs. But, even if I didn’t — I’m textbook. I’m WebMD-defintion-depressed.
I’ve dealt with it — depression — my whole life. Long before sobriety. And, it used to bother me. There was a time it even scared me. But now, I take it in stride. Sobriety has given me the tools to deal with my depressive bouts. Which, I’ve observed, come along with big, rolling changes or incredible amounts of stress. And, in my adult life, that seems to be — always.
Some bouts are worse than others. And now, at the very least, I know how to talk to myself, even when I’m not entirely sure that I’ll listen.
“This too shall pass.” I tell myself. — Because, it’s true. And, I can handle it. All the little sayings, the comforting cups of tea, the “being kind to yourself.” — Whatever that fuck that means. I know the motions. I’ve made them all before. And, since I’ve never tolerated being medicated for depression — I turn into a Walking-Dead-style-zombie — I made a decision to work with professionals that support my wishes and help me roll with the tides, naturally.
I’ve learned that the hardest part of this deal is being patient with yourself. — Being kind to yourself. It’s these two things, in particular, with which I have real difficulty. — Because I have always wanted it yesterday and I have always wanted it done perfectly. Whatever “it” happens to be.
Often addicts and alcoholics are their own worst critics. And, that’s not just me waxing poetic — that’s fact. Self-hatred led us all to our substances, and, for those of us that struggle with our addictions — it’s what leads us back.
It’s sobriety that’s helped me navigate the waters of my own softness — or lack thereof. I know now, with certainty, that “As-is” is sometimes the best we’ll get. So, I’ve accepted this and learned to be grateful for it.
Many of us want to pin-point the place where it all began. Place blame. Point fingers. We think that if we can find the origin — that starting line — where our depression began, we can also find where our addiction began. And there, we can somehow fix it. Mend ourselves. But I’ve learned, depression is not a problem that gets solved. It’s just another part of who I am. A piece of my treatment has become accepting what is and building my expectations around that reality.
I’m never quite sure how long it will last. — How many hours I’ll sleep. How many responses I’ll bark. How many pounds I’ll lose or gain. How many futile attempts will be made to make me smile. Or how many leaves I’ll watch change color. — But, because I’m sober, I know, eventually, I’ll be OK. I’ll return to some semblance of emotional normalcy. — I’ll walk outside in the sunshine. I’ll dust off the bike seat. I’ll call some friends and meet them for coffee.
But, for now, — for today, tomorrow, and what’s likely the several weeks that will follow — it’s all balling and blankets while I stare out the window and wait to feel something different.
That’s my patience. That’s my kindness. That’s my meditation. — And, today, that’s enough.