Have you ever woken up on a day where your depression and apathy have been overwhelming, taken one look at all of the things you wish to accomplish—the big picture—and then collapsed from feelings of despair and impossibility? If so, then today’s Self-Care Sunday write-up may be for you.
A few weeks ago, I shared a life update where I went into detail about my struggles with dealing with apathy for the first time in my life. In a semi-follow-up to that post, I also shared some of the things that I do when self-care simply isn’t enough to help me feel better. Rather than feeling better, it becomes a quest to survive in its most basic way available to me. This right here, from my personal experiences as of late, is really the only way to move forward when you heart and mind and body have no fucks left to give. Just survive.
Before I begin, I’d like to offer a disclaimer that I am not a medical professional and any discussions made on BiblioNyan are in no way whatsoever constituted as medical advice. These are simply my own personal experiences—struggles, success, and in-betweens—with mental health, and I share them openly in the effort to help others to cope day-to-day with their own mental health difficulties. Please note that discussion of severe depression, apathy, and use of death/suicide-related metaphors will be present in this post today from varying degrees of detail.
The Return of Apathy in the Midst of Ambition
For the past couple of weeks, my battle with apathy has returned and it has been contributing heavily to some of my other mental health conditions; Depression and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are the ones taking the brunt of it. My life is finally falling into place as much as it can. I have clear-set aspirations for myself to accomplish within one year, three years, and five years. My excitement at wanting to achieve anything at all aside from merely getting out of bed was the biggest surprise for me since the end of 2018 to the beginning of 2019. However, my life has always presented me with one gloriously shining pile of crap after another, usually after getting out of the previous mess. To call it frustrating would be the biggest fucking understatement around. Apathy seems to be the absolute worst thing I have undergone as those feelings of indifference are insidiously toxic and unsuspecting in their execution of promoting failure—whether it’s with goals I want to meet or with my sense of inner-stability.
Feeling so wholly indifferent with regard to all of things I enjoy doing or the people that I interact with, if not confronted, prevents me being able to use my goals and ambitions as motivation and inspiration to fight the mental conditions that rise up to shove me back into the dirt, and this is something that terrifies the bleeding hell out of me. What are we without a desire to live? A yearning to be better, in whatever the hell that encapsulates for us as individuals? Without passion and a will to maintain a self-aware existence, aren’t we just a bunch of atoms floating around in a hollow and self-loathing world? See, that is one extremely depressing line of thought, is it not?
Being Bottlenecked by That Which Drives Us
Occasionally the big picture, or the endgame, of all of our hard work and dedication can be the pillow that suffocates us to death. It causes us to be impatient and supremely narrow-minded, or perfect beta food for apathy to take root. In the past two weeks of fighting, I found a way to combat these inherently negative and harmful thoughts that were contributing heavily to my indifferent and “I couldn’t care less” mental state. While the solution isn’t a long-term one, I’m a strong believer that our treatments and ways of coping with challenges and mental health should be as ever-evolving as we are with this blob called Life.
When Depression begins, no matter how terrible we are feeling, usually somewhere deep down in the darkest parts of ourselves, there is this drive to do something profound, relatively speaking. We hope that this thing we place on a pedestal and work towards will be our saviour from feeling so immensely shitty all of the time; that once we get our hands on it, that feeling of relief can show us that there is a light at the end of the existential tunnel. This can be a brilliant way to keeping yourself focused on working through your Depression to prevent it from conquering you, however, it can also become a noose that bottlenecks us into misery and feelings of inadequacy.
The Big Picture is a double-edged sword. As inspiring as they are, looking at the things we want can also leave us feeling like they are thousands and thousands of miles away, far up on the top of Mound Doom, seemingly out-of-reach and unattainable no matter how much we work our arses off. This isn’t the case for everybody, but for some of us it’s a harsh reality that we scuffle with daily. It’s very much like looking at a painting and stepping back to see the colours and the final portrait that’s being exhibited. Rarely, does it occur to us to step right up to the painting so that we can see the lines hidden beneath the complex concoctions of shades, the smudges from erasing one mistake or another, or even the piles of crumpled paper that may have came before this final, perfect product. Life is exactly the same, especially when you are dealing with mental illnesses such as Apathy.
Take a Step Closer to Breathe in the Fallacies
All of my life, I have constantly heard one phrase everywhere I have gone. Whether I was in school, at home, hanging out with my friends, or relaxing with my family (rare occasions). The saying I’m referring to is that sometimes the key to life is to take a step back and see the bigger picture. It helps give us perspective on the choices we make as those decisions will form a path to this thing we desire above all else; it can be college degrees, a meaningful relationship, an excellent sex life, starting a family, being the greatest poet in the world—whatever the imagination and the heart can conjure up for the individual. My question to this saying is: why? Why should I force myself to be so narrow-minded? Is that really creating a nurturing and encouraging environment for me to embark on my pursuits?
After dealing with apathy, I can safely say fuck that jazz, and I love jazz.
Sometimes when I am overcome with severe bouts of Depression, anxiety, and now apathy, thinking about all of the shite that I want to do is wholeheartedly daunting and makes me feel like my existence is a waste of time and a waste of space because rather than spending my time doing whatever I need to do to accomplish my aspirations, I am laying in bed, wishing and praying and hoping for all of these feelings to fuck the hell off. Wow, that was a long sentence. I can see the Bachelor’s degree burn to ash. The house I want to buy fall from the cliff into a megalodon’s mouth (I’m a bit shark obsessed). My middle-finger to California as I finally get the fuck out getting stuck halfway up and then having to be amputated. Instead of helping me, I find it drowns me.
A few days ago I realised that the best solution when I feel so unbearably overwhelmed is to stop focusing on everything that I want. I need to change my perspective. Rather than take in the Mona Lisa as a single entity, a single tiny as hell entity, I need to step up super close so that I can’t even see the edges. It’s the only way I can finally create my own. What does this metaphoric bullshite mean? I have to learn to take it one simple day at a time. No more. No less. As an impatient person, this can be far more challenging than the fight to crawl out of bed on my worst days.
Learning the Power of a Single Day from My Brother
On Wednesday, while I was laying in bed staring at the shadows my cool blue twinkle lights created on my ceiling, I began to feel my mind taking steps towards a tightrope. My feet were having the hardest time balancing as it began to take one step after another towards a black pit of giving up. I was in such emotional turmoil. A part of me was screaming at the top of their lungs to fight. “Fight you fucking dumbass!” I closed my eyes and tried my damndest to ignore that voice. Then the funniest thing happened. My brother’s face appeared before the black canvas of my closed lids.
“What the fuck are you doing?” He said. He was wearing a white t-shirt and some blue jeans, casually leaning against an invisible wall. His long hair was a hot mess and his expression was a fierce rage.
“You can’t fucking give up, you dork. You promised to show me a house on the ocean. A trip to Japan. A published book. An NSX.”
I scoffed. I honestly felt that I had finally lost it. Even though I felt so angry at his words, mostly because he was dead and taunting me with truth, I smiled. I smiled.
“If you can’t care enough about these things to get off your ass, then don’t. Don’t think about them. Don’t care about them. Just get out of bed. Feed your cats and get a glass of water. Do that much and go back to bed if you’d like.” After that he disappeared, probably because I opened my eyes.
I sat up and begrudgingly pulled myself out of my piles of blankets. I fed and watered my cats and then made myself some coffee. While it was brewing, I went into the bathroom to wash my face and forced myself to clear my mind. On my way back to the kitchen, I looked at my bed and decided that I wasn’t going to crawl back into it. Instead, I made myself a cup of strong liquid bliss, sat down and wrote three things that I wanted to do with the rest of my day. Here’s what I wrote:
- Finish watching Solomon’s Perjury (2 episodes)
- Eat dinner
- Take an allergy pill
That’s it. Those were the only things on my list of shite to do that day. I stayed up super late and when the next day came around, I created another similar list, but I added a couple of more things, one of which was to write up a post about the library books that I hauled recently.
I shared that long and strange and boring story just to say this: The only way to move forward in life when you are suffering from Depression and apathy, and whatever else that is hindering your ability to give a damn about anything is to take it one small day at a time. Surviving the day can be the biggest hurdle that we face as individuals living with mental illness, but you know, being able to see the light or the rain of tomorrow can also be the most-inspiring triumph that we achieve.
My recommendation is to create small To Do lists. They don’t have to be extravagant or consist of a bunch of stuff either. If the only thing that you have energy to do that day is to drink a glass of water and watch your favourite show or film, put it on the list and feel proud that you did something you set out to do. Don’t think about all of the other nonsense. Slowly, day-by-day, your ability and desire to add more stuff to that list will come and you will find yourself back on the paved path towards whatever it is that you are yearning for, like a house on the beach or adopting a kitty.
By centring your thoughts and concentration on only the day ahead, you are taking so much stress and burden off your shoulders. It will help re-energise you, and don’t worry about how long it takes you. For some people it’ll take a handful of days, for others it can take weeks, and furthermore for others (like me), it can take much, much longer. I’m not out of my apathetic funk, but I am learning to see the end of one day and appreciate the start of the next. Currently, that’s all I can really handle. It doesn’t make me weak, or lazy, or unambitious, by far.
Since I have prattled quite a bit, I shall leave you with this: it’s good to keep a casual eye on your aspirations in life, no matter what they are as long as they aren’t harmful to you or others. Nevertheless, learn to take one day at a time. Life is short and fallible and can be a hot mess of random crap, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be. Even short people can become taller with the proper shoes. 😉 In life, more often than not, making the most of a moment is simply surviving it. Fuck, having a will to survive, no matter how big or small, is the most ambitious fucking thing ever, and don’t ever let anyone take that away from you.