Today, I went to the gym. And for the first 75 minutes of my workout, I wanted to kill myself. Although my muscles were working, I wasn’t there. I recall feeling like one of those fungi-infected ants that were featured on Planet Earth. My body knew what to do, so I let it do it’s thing while I plotted my own death. It was no longer what my therapist called “passive suicidal ideation”. I considered alternative means of doing it, if I would leave a note, and if I did, what it would say. I eventually concluded I wouldn’t need a note, because fuck ’em. I wondered how much dog food I should leave out before someone would eventually come check on me. I thought about the people in my life that I actually valued, which I could count on one hand, and how many more I knew and were fairly sizable parts of my life in spite of not being particularly valuable. Valuable might not be the right word…healthy, perhaps. Point being that I was just not interested in life anymore. It’s not a gift; at least, not for me it isn’t.
This is not atypical for me these days. I wake up either with piercing anxiety or crushing depression. Working out has been my only hope for a few hours of respite during the day, and I’ve been doing it every day for 45-120 minutes a day, depending on how bad my mood is. I leave with a bit of internal peace, and a few too-short hours later, the bottom drops out again. I did have two good-ish days last week, but then it was back to low-town. My life, as I’ve told my therapist, is ruled by shame, the vicious bitch.
Somewhere around the 75 minute mark of today’s work out, the peace finally came. I had almost walked out of the gym at the 25-minute mark, the 45-minute mark, the 55-minute mark, and the 75-minute mark. I shudder to think of how I would feel now if I had. In place of plans to off myself, I was making plans to live. And not just to live, but to really take the bull by the horns and DO something about my shitty mood and my shitty life. I guess my survival instinct could use a tune up, but it did eventually kick in.
I decided that today I would start learning how to take care of myself. At the ripe-old age of 31, I needed to go back to basics, because I just did not have the slightest idea of how to do that. I was practicing all the prescripted things they tell you to do when you’re depressed. Exercise, eat well, get sleep, reach out. The problem with that advice is that you need to be doing it ALL THE TIME, not just when you’re depressed. Because basically, you’re just putting money in the bank for a rainy day. Or it’s like a CD account, where you put money in but can’t access it for a while. Meanwhile you feel like death would be a blessing.
I envisioned myself going through my DBT workbook, sprawling out in my office, sheets of paper all around me with diagrams and questions and events and processes. I was going to keep investing and keep trying because I believed it would pay off, eventually. If I could make it. And besides, it wasn’t going to get any worse so I may as well try more strategies. The shotgun approach to depression.
I got home and almost got myself into a Candy Crush tournament. Not today, I thought. I pulled up Amazon on my laptop and searched for a book my therapist recommended to me. It uses a CBT approach and I’ve only been moderately impressed by that method so far, but I decided that, in combination with my DBT workbook, it couldn’t hurt. While reading that page, I looked at the books that other customers also bought and opened a few more tabs with those. In total, I ended up getting four new Kindle books. I began to read.
It very quickly became evident that my whole goal after my last depression was wrong. Back then, I had decided that I would not suffer anymore. I was done with it, tired of it, and would do whatever I could to NOT. SUFFER. AGAIN. I simply refused to suffer.
Cute, right? This plan was fundamentally flawed from the start.
As I read, I feel like I’m starting to see things form in the ether. Maybe. It’s only day one and this particular leg of my journey is just a few hours old.