The site BlogHer has thrown out the gauntlet to the blogosphere to write a post every day(!) for the month of November. Since I’m an idiot who likes to challenge myself to invariably fail, I signed up.
I’m looking at this as a fun little exercise for me to get back in the ol’ swing of things. Or a fun exercise in how easily I give up. We’ll see. The premise is each day they provide writing prompts which I will most likely follow (unless I get some other good ideas) and you blog your silly little heart out!
Today’s the first day of the contest, and the prompt asks, “When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?”
Full disclosure, I’ve had quite a few of these ‘bad mental health’ days recently. Not unlike millions of people, I live with depression and anxiety. As I’m writing this, I wrote the phrase ‘struggle with depression’ and ‘suffer from depression’ and I deleted both. It just doesn’t sit well with me. It also got me thinking of other phrases I often hear around the discussion of depression:
We’ve all heard these phrases and have undoubtedly used them at one point or another. We hear them in the background, on television commercials, or whispered behind backs as people leave room. The stigma of depression and mental illness is alive and well, but we’re making strides to really improve the understanding of what it is. People are often reticent to admit they may in fact have a mental illness, let alone ask for help. It took me YEARS to admit these things to myself.
These words make me feel like my depression is something I can either get rid of completely or give in to; there’s no in between. Certainly, that’s not the case. Depression isn’t blue, it’s gray and big and different for everyone. My depression and anxiety are a part of me, just like having legs and arms. Most time I’m fine, but sometimes things get broken and I have to fix them. It’s not fun and certainly not something I enjoy, nor does anyone close to me. But it is part of me, my genetic make-up, for good or worse. I’ve worked hard over the years to identify its presence and how to handle it. Sometimes I’m A-OK while other times the thought of moving/showering/dressing completely overwhelms me. Therapy and medication helped me through some of my blackest moments and I’m forever thankful to those who’ve been there to listen, help, or just be present.
Anyway…back to the question: What the fuck do I do to help myself?
Not too exciting, I know. But there’s something about being in the kitchen that brings me pure, unadulterated joy when I’m feeling down. I’m the weirdo who loves grocery shopping, walking up and down aisles while singing along to my favorite lite rock. I’m not the greatest cook, but I haven’t killed anyone yet (I don’t think). I can spend hours in the kitchen, chopping aways, making a complete and total mess. I try to perfect my knife skills, and sometimes pretend I’m on Chopped. I like to keep the contest fair yet somehow always eliminate myself from my imaginary panel of judges and fellow contestants.
My true pleasure comes really from cooking for other people. Years ago, when I was married, we hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and it was my absolute favorite thing to do. Yes, it was hectic, yes I got stressed out and most times wanted to cancel. Then everyone would show up and my house would be full of people and laughing (and fighting) and would get a real feeling of happiness. The holidays are coming and I’ll be hosting Thanksgiving again for the first time in about 4 years. I can’t wait.
So, there it is. This is the first blog I’ve done and I’m rusty as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Bear with me; it will get better. Or maybe it won’t, who knows! I’m fighting a cold/flu/plague and I’m really not sure what I just wrote. Hopefully it makes sense, or maybe it’s just a disjointed piece of shit. Either way, I wrote it and it’s out there.
Now I’m going home to lay on my couch. Someone please make me soup. xoxo