New Year’s Eve is the preferred starting point for self-improvement journeys because for whatever reason we like having a tidy jumping off point for getting back to the gym, or eating healthy, or taking up a new hobby. That first day back in gym after a long hiatus is a daunting thing. You feel your extra pounds and notice the diminishment of your musculature.
When I make the first march to the treadmill to start my warm up run I begin mentally tallying all the “reasons” (read: excuses) I made to keep me away for so long. This isn’t another post about discipline, or work ethic. I said elsewhere yesterday that I know what I have to do. This is a post about a depression.
I can never tell when, but at some point what’s keeping me away from any good thing is that like the Prodigal Son, I’m scared to go back. I’m nervous about the first workout where I’ll see just how much weaker I am.
The same goes with my writing. I stalled on The Spectacular Seraphim Versus the Fame Monster a couple months ago. and just like the return approach to the treadmill I’ve been doing the mental review of reasons/excuses for that delay. It started because I hit the smallest of road blocks plotting wise, but I had a half dozen other projects and activities to keep busy with before my vacation.
Since coming back, I’ve been ramping up on my pastimes gradually, but that’s made the lack of novel writing all the more blatant. It isn’t that I don’t know where the story is going next, I’ve had that mapped out since last month (I occupied time flying to London with some plotting work). It isn’t that I don’t have time- I haven’t started acting classes yet and the podcast isn’t as demanding now that it’s going at a steady clip.
The simple fact is that for a multitude of reasons I’m terrified of doing a thing that I love, express, and define myself through. I’m frightened of lack of import in the act and product, I’m scared of diminished ability from the hiatus, I’m scared of what the work I’m producing reflects in me- and I’m paralyzed with fear at the exact opposite of all of the above.
At the end of the day, we can be our own worst enemies, and the depressive mind will contort itself to diminish one’s self-worth, actualization, and motivation. This particular episode crept up on me, but in hindsight I should have noticed it sooner based on a casual joke I made last week that reflected where I was slipping.
I’ve mentioned my mental edifice before, that sense of self I’ve built to hoist and shelter myself from that pit before. It worked again, but I had to choose it. I’m taking a small sense of accomplishment in that feat. Maybe it’s something everyone else does without even pausing to notice, but if you struggle with mental illness: relish those victories. You chose this day and if, like me, you dragged yourself to the treadmill or the writing desk or wherever else you feel good, productive, and fulfilled: be proud of every single goddamned step you made.
We move forward.
[If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Line is always available (1-800-273-8255), and there are resources available for therapy, counseling, and people willing to listen. You just have to take the single step to ask. I believe in you.]