I never really knew what to do with this blog, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at how long it’s been since I’ve written anything here. And I guess it should surprise me even less that a review of a series I ‘previously abandoned’ (written for a year-long reading challenge I would, after just one month, also abandon), is my most recent blog post, written over 14 months ago.
I have a habit of starting things and not following through with them, abandoning goals and endeavors as soon as I start to feel in over my head. And I should emphasize: when I start to feel in over my head, whether or not I actually am. This is a common experience for people struggling with OCD and/or depression, and I have been in treatment for my mental difficulties long enough to be aware of exactly what I’m doing when I leave projects (like this blog) for dead — I get so wrapped up in getting it “right”, that I end up not doing it at all.
Despite also knowing that pushing myself to write regularly has always helped to manage my depression in the past, I have such a hard time returning to it. Once a story or a project has been (prematurely) abandoned, I tend to “wait for the right time” to jump back into it, which, of course, turns out to be never.
Another crucial, yet often neglected, part of my self-directed treatment plan, is going outside. This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I can sometimes go weeks at a time without ever leaving my house. Most weeks, I do leave the house at least once (Friday nights are DnD nights, and I can’t let the party down, y’know?), but if plans get canceled or my depression is just too loud, I stay put. Just like with writing, perhaps even more so, the longer I stay in the house, the harder it becomes for me to leave.
Leaving has been especially difficult lately, and I had all but resigned myself to this pattern of hermit-dom until last week, when I was about to run out of clean underwear and, going to do my laundry, realized that was all I had in my dirty clothes’ hamper — 13 pairs of dirty underwear, one night shirt, and nothing else. I had effectively gone almost two full weeks without even getting dressed, and the idea horrified me. This wasn’t the person I wanted to be. I had been here before, over 10 years ago, and fought like hell to get better. That pile of dirty underwear was a wake-up call, and I decided that if any time was the “right” time to get my ass out of the house and start healing again, it had to be now.
Since then, I have gotten myself dressed almost every day (leaving room for imperfection is important, too!), finding any excuse to leave the house, even for 10, 20 minutes at a time. I joined my sister and our dog for a walk in the park. I went to Home Depot to help choose vegetable plants for the garden. I volunteered to run to the bank or to the grocery store, and took a walk to Panera Bread for coffee, instead of making it at home.
Today, despite having nothing planned and feeling generally exhausted from doing more exposure therapy in one week than I had in months, I decided to take the dog out for some playtime in the backyard. And I found a four-leaf clover.
I’m not really one to believe in “signs” or anything, but I couldn’t help but consider this a good omen of sorts. I had actually never found a four-leaf clover before, and if I had just stayed in my room, in my pajamas today, I wouldn’t have.
My therapist is always reminding me that recovery comes from making “skillful choices”. OCD and depression aren’t things you can choose to turn off, of course, but recovery cannot happen unless we choose it. Recovery looks different for everyone, but it always starts the same way, by saying, “Today, I want to feel good, so I’m going to make that happen by choosing to [go outside, take my meds, write in my journal, etc., etc.,].” I made my choices this week, and it worked out pretty well.
This brings me back to writing. I have wanted to revive this blog for a long time, but could never decide on how, or when. The longer I left it, the longer I put off coming back. So, I’m choosing to do it now. I may write a new post every week; I may write one every month. I may not write here again for another year, or I may write a new post tomorrow. It doesn’t matter. What matters is, I chose to write today. This post is imperfect, largely unedited, and no one will probably ever read it, but that doesn’t matter.
Today, I found a four-leaf clover. Today, I chose to write.