When You Don’t Wanna But You Gotta

The hardest thing for me about depression is the way it saps your energy. All I want to do is sleep. It’s very unlike “me” (the me that I usually am when my brain doesn’t flare up.) When it shows up at inconvenient times I can’t just take a break from everything I’m supposed to do: I still have to finish that project, make dinner for my son, apply for that job, train for that race. But I don’t wanna. Just sleep. Just constantly fighting the urge/need to sleep.

Of course, booze don’t help. But booze, at least for me, is a part of this cycle. I get all sad, I self-medicate, the self-medication take a physical toll that exacerbates the already-existing physical toll of the depression itself, and now I can’t get out of bed. No yoga, no running, no eating healthy foods, no zipping along on the bike. Just sleep. Just bed. Just dark.

I was on my own for most of this weekend – no son, no ladyfriend – and it came at a bad time but it wasn’t debilitating or anything. Just, didn’t help. Dishes stacked up. Laundry unfolded. Told myself I was gonna go for a long ride but that didn’t happen. Just sleep. Just this heavy, dizzy head.

I think the most difficult aspect of this is learning the difference between Self-Care and Not-Self-Destruction. They are different things entirely, different mindsets. It’s not enough to just make the choice to stop obliterating yourself chemically. You have to rebuild. You have to do better by yourself, just to reach parity, and then maybe hope to go further and operate in the green for a while. And there will be setbacks, and you can’t let them knock you off your path entirely. But it’s hard. Goddamn, it is so hard.

Last Thursday I did it. I rode 20 miles, just shy of 22, actually. This weekend’s ride is going to be pretty easy. That wasn’t true a few weeks ago, but my hard work paid off. And now I want this to be my thing. I miss this being my thing, the way it was in New York. I want to ride all the time, feel health return to my body, feel wind all around me while I zip along. I got up to 30 mph last week – no small feat on my rickety old street bike. Who knows how much easier all of this would be on a decent bike? How many miles I could go with such ease? Who knows where the limit could be?

I rode just shy of 22 miles and, instead of celebrating or congratulating myself, my rotten brain said, “Big fucking deal. Tons of people ride a lot further and a lot faster than that. YOU’RE PATHETIC. That you think this is an achievement is fucking depressing. No wonder nobody likes you, you idiot piece of shit.”

I picked up my son at the bus stop and made myself a recovery shake. I rehydrated. My body, from the neck down, felt amazing.

*****

Goddamn, but it’s so hard to get anything done when there’s somebody always rooting against you.

*****

Coveting the success and happiness of others won’t get you nowhere, though, so you gotta slug on. Here I am again and, as before, all I want to do is sleep. But I can’t. I have too much to do. And I’m not gonna get it done if I lay back down. So I’m gonna force myself to leave this house, and I’m going to ride my bike for 20 miles, and then I’m gonna use that energy to coast through the rest of my day. I can’t plan beyond that.

I will find a job, I will finish all my work, I will be OK. And I finally had enough money put away to officially register for Bo Bikes Bama. I’m gonna ride this weekend. It’s not going to be the transformative experience I imagined when I started this blog, but at least it’s the start of something.

One of these days I’m gonna learn to be kind to myself. That’s be the real transformative thing. I could bike a century but it wouldn’t make a different if I still hated myself at the end of the ride. So much work to do, so much left to see in this weird little world.

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