2013 was simultaneously a really awesome and really terrible year for me. I hit a lot of cool personal milestones and major personal lows. The details don’t really matter to anyone who isn’t me, but basically I became aware that I was and had been in a long-term depressive episode that had gotten past my ability to cope. It was kind of a relief to figure out, “Ohhhhh right, that’s why everything is difficult and meaningless.”
It takes a really really long time to climb out of an episode like this. It’s now 8-10 months after stuff started getting better, and I’m only now willing to say that my depression is in remission again. It had started getting worse so gradually I was like a crayfish sitting still in a pot as the water temperature rose. I really couldn’t tell you when it started, I can only tell you when I noticed I was getting cooked. With this in mind I want to be very proactive about retaking control over various things in my life to put myself in the best possible position to keep it from happening again.
I’m tackling a lot of things simultaneously, but in small bits. One of the main ones I’m working on currently is “40 Bags in 40 Days”. The idea is to de-clutter your house one area at a time over 40 days (coinciding with Lent, but really you could do it at any point.) The idea resonated with me and where I’m at right now. I have no idea if I’ll do it another year, but it is the right thing for me right now. As I’m writing this I’m on day 18 and so far have cleaned out 27 bags of stuff for trash or donation. Mostly trash.
It might sound like I’m waaaay ahead of the goal, but I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t even cleaned out three full rooms. I still have 3 sets of shelves and my pantry to go through in the dining room, and I’m still sorting linens in the laundry room. The only room cleared of unnecessary clutter and items is the bathroom and I sure as hell haven’t given that a good scrubbing in the process. Stuff not grime being currently tackled.
This is helping me mentally and emotionally. It feels really good to be ABLE to tackle this. It’s cathartic even as it is somewhat saddening to realize it’s been easier to “do it later” for so long. I’m getting a lot of exercise, according to my Fitbit, while I clean so it’s helping me get my physical activity back up slowly. Also, I work in a museum, so I’m never really not surrounded by immense amounts of stuff. It feels amazing to work on getting rid of stuff.
Being in the middle of depression feels like being a champagne cork bobbing in the ocean. As I’ve come out of it, I’ve gone from cork to crate to toy boat, to being a human shaped object, to being on a raft, to being in a boat, to being in a boat with oars. I’m not sure I’ll ever really get the outboard going for more than short spurts (it is a wonky terrible engine) but it’s great to feel like I have control over the direction I’m heading and the ability to keep moving myself in that direction.
So, don’t mind me as I keep on rowing.