The Fragile Connection Between Desire and Action
You know how sometimes you want to do something and then you do it?
Whether you realize it or not, the connection between those two things is its own separate substance.
That is the thing that is most missing for me when I am depressed.
A lot of people think of depression as sadness. And it’s true that some people experience depression as a lack of enjoyment of the world, which could be thought of as a kind of sadness.
Other people experience depression as a crushing self-criticism, and I have a lot of that, too.
But the kind of depression I hear about the least is this missing step in the chain of motivation. I have had times where I am laying down, feeling an urgent desire to do something, and yet being literally unable to get up. I have had times where I am standing in a room looking at the thing I want to be doing and I simply stand there and stand there and stare until finally I wander out of the room not having done it.
Of course, this inability to do the things that you want feeds into those other kinds of depression, too. You can’t do the things you want, so you tell yourself you’re a terrible, worthless person. You can’t do the things that you want, so you get less enjoyment out of life.
I’ve seen several different therapists and psychiatrists over the last couple of years. One of the things I always tell them is that I can only manage so many things in my life, and that the two things I care the most about are LoveLiveGrow and Dylan. I can take care of Dylan, and I can do the minimum amount of work necessary to keep LoveLiveGrow going. But I have to try extraordinarily hard to do those thing. I have to concentrate really hard, and I have to be willing to let everything else go.
(If you’re saying to yourself, but what about pigs! and sheep! it’s because those are things that Joshua does, too. If Joshua weren’t here to help hold those projects up, they wouldn’t happen.)
I have ideas all the time for things I want to do. There’s usually a huge ramp up to an idea – I’ll think about doing something for months. Then sometimes I’ll get briefly excited, convinced that I’m going to do this one for real this time. And then two days later I’m having a really depressed day, and that idea withers. The idea sticks around in my head for awhile, taunting me about how much I suck, but it’s basically over.
I’ve had the idea for a Fat Acceptance community website for awhile. It was in the ramping up stage, where I’m thinking over the details in my mind, imagining how I might do it, if I were to fool myself into thinking I could do it.
Then last month, in large part based on Laura’s posts at Tutus and Tiny Hats about the FA community, I decided that now was the time. I was going to start GLORIFY. I tried to work up a lot of excitement, but I also expected the project to crash and burn at any moment. The longer I kept working on it, the more nervous I got, because the more disappointed I was going to be (and everyone else I’d told!) whenever I had a depressive episode and the whole thing disappeared in an embarrassing puff of smoke.
But… it never disappeared, because I never got depressed.
Because two months ago I started taking Wellbutrin.
I have not been feeling particularly “happy”. I still feel pretty much like me. I’m bitchy. I’m grumpy. I get restless and dissatisfied.
But, I decided I wanted to do something, then I worked on it for a couple of hours a day for a month and a half, and then it was done. That almost never happens for me, unless other people are driving the project.
It’s funny what things can be a part of a mental illness. Sometimes it’s very small things, tiny parts of a mental cascade that you didn’t even know were separate.
Sometimes you want to do something and then you do it.
And now so do I.
Edit: A year later, this post makes me cringe. GLORIFY didn’t last, at least in part because my meds stopped working and I went back to being depressed. One more thing on the list that didn’t make it because I am crazy. I feel really guilty and embarrassed about letting people down with GLORIFY. It’s things like this that deepen my depression sometimes because I can point to them and say, “See! Why bother?”
Issa is a wild and rebellious mama who wants to live a carefree life where that little anxious voice is put on mute. How about you? As a writer she feels successful if just one other person feels any comfort or inspiration from what she’s written.