Depression and Other Adventures

Depression and Other Adventures

I should have known my marriage would end in tears when I realized how much he admired Henry Miller. I dislike Henry Miller because he always seemed to me a man who never did his own laundry and what can a person who never looked after himself tell me about life? Miller had this quote, “Everything was for tomorrow, but tomorrow never came.” And that always pissed me off. Tomorrow only ever comes to others after you are dead. There is no tomorrow. There is only today.

But sometimes today becomes overwhelming. Showering feels impossible and forget about hair washing. Removal of body and facial hair ends. So now I am stinky and hairy. Maybe the house is messy, the trash in the kitchen in piling up and the dirty laundry has taken on a presence of its own. There aren’t any more clean spoons or bowls. Somehow we have worked through the 17 coffee mugs in the cabinet. Which doesn’t matter because there isn’t any milk or cereal or coffee grounds. There are papers and packages and piles everywhere. How did this happen and more importantly, how do I get out from under it? I’m not a hoarder. But it feels a near thing. Is this how it begins?

Is this how people end up living lives they don’t care about?

Taking care of one human being, myself, feels like way too much work. What about if there are other humans I am expected to take care of? Who gets what little energy there is?

Thus is born the sad, dumpy American mom. She is a cliche, a staple of fiction and nonfiction alike. She is also a cash cow. Thousands of people make literally billions of dollars off of her every year. I too am a sad, dumpy American mom. My life has been such a shitshow I would not be surprised to find the fab five at my door.

Sometimes, I get up in the morning, get Six off to school then come home and crawl back into bed and sleep until it is time to go get him from school. That doesn’t happen as often as it used to but when it happens it is a devastatingly awful feeling. I am only telling you about it because I don’t want you to feel bad about however it is you think you are falling down. Sometimes I can’t figure out how I keep getting up. And I worry that one day I won’t remember how. But then I think, “Well, if that happens, I will call one of my friends. She will come over and get Six dressed and off to school and then she will come back and pry me out of bed and we will figure this shit out.”

But, just shy of calling in reinforcements, how do I keep going?

Clipboards.

I have a clipboard with some scrap paper clipped to it and I leave it lying around, usually in the kitchen. When I feel overwhelmed by how far out of control my life has gotten, I pick up the clipboard and whatever writing implement I can find (crayon, marker, pencil or, if I am lucky, a pen) and I get started. Beginning at the front door of my apartment, I look around and write down what needs to be done. Even the smallest thing gets written down. And I DO NOT number the tasks. I put little dots next to each thing I write down because I am listing, not prioritizing. I don’t have the mental acumen to prioritize. I only have the ability to…oh, what is the phrase? Observe and report.

  • Put pile of shoes in the closets where they belong
  • Water plants
  • Hang up framed picture that has been sitting there for 2 months (or get rid of it)
  • Sort mail
  • Shelve books
  • When no one is looking, throw out or recycle or donate all the little plastic toys Six got from fast food restaurants and/or birthday party treat bags
  • Put all sweatshirts, sweaters and pants in either the laundry or whichever closet they belong in. (Figure out why there are so many pairs of pants by the front door)

You get the idea. I walk around the apartment, keeping to the outside wall so I don’t get bogged down in the middle of the room before I have dealt with the perimeter. Then I look toward whatever disaster has settled into the middle of the room:

  • Take down pillow fort that has been there for 3 days
  • Gather the thousands of pieces of Lego and…I don’t know. Sweep them under the couch?
  • Fold and put away the 7 blankets piled up on the couch

Be specific when parsing the dining room table.

  • Throw out all paper that does not have to be returned to school, bank, work, etc.
  • When no one is looking, throw out or recycle or donate all the little plastic toys Six got from fast food restaurant and/or birthday party treat bags
  • Unearth the placemats and either wash them or give up and donate them

You get the idea.

Then into the kitchen:

  • Take out the trash
  • Clean out the fridge
  • Take out the trash again
  • Wash the dishes
  • Put away the pantry groceries you bought last week
  • When no one is looking, throw out or recycle or donate all the little plastic toys Six got from fast food restaurant and/or birthday party treat bags

And on and on. It might seem overwhelming but it gets everything that swirls around in my head out onto an actionable list. Maybe some things won’t get done. The picture won’t get hung up. The fridge won’t get cleaned out. The little plastic toys will still clutter up every flat surface. But maybe one day I will dump them all into a bag and drive them to the local charity shop and leave them there along with that picture I never hung up.

A mom can dream.

That is how I keep going. I make lists. I have spiral notebooks full of lists. I have lists of lists. One time I went camping and after everyone went to bed I sat by the fire ring, drinking half a bottle of crappy supermarket chardonnay, and one by one burned the pages of three notebooks of lists. I read every one before I consigned it to the flames. And I thanked the longer, psychotically detailed lists because I knew what I was seeing: A mind desperately trying to save itself from drowning in the minutiae of daily life. Many people can handle these things without a problem but I am not one of them. And that is going to have to be okay. It isn’t as if I can trade my brain in for one better suited to the life I have chosen to live.

So there is one of my coping mechanisms. I’m going to make a list of some of the other ones!

  • Naps
  • Sandwiches
  • Friends
  • Books
  • Making inappropriate jokes regarding the course my life has taken
  • Netflix
  • It would be nice to get some ‘and chill’ but that would involve leaving my house
  • Did I mention naps?
  • Spotify
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