Posted by: Erica | March 10, 2010

Time to Get a Move on!

Depression can be as immobilizing as two broken legs.  Friday night, I surrendered Ansley to Martin’s care, turned a blind eye to the man-cave my whole house had become, and went to bed at 9:30.  Not only did I need to restore order to monumental domestic chaos, but I also needed to start packing our entire household for our upcoming move.  I figured it could all wait for another day.  Turns out, Saturday was not that day either.  I spent that time on the couch, with commercial breaks from TV shows inspiring an occassional glancing at all of the things I should have been putting in a box. 

By Sunday morning, the weight of the items collecting on my “to-do” list was growing heavy.  I’m not a procrastinater, but I have had this feeling before, usually when I’m at home from work with a cold and suddenly have the opportunity and time to notice the little things that need to be done, like clearing spiderwebs or dusting picture frames.  Maybe only women can relate to this, but for me, there’s no worse feeling than being bombarded with things that need to be done and not being physically able to take care of them.  It’s a kind of torture scenario you might find in a Greek myth.  Remember Tantalus and the grapes?

So, on that morning, bright and early, I got up out of my bed resolved to make some small steps toward functionality.  First things first, I went down stairs to let out Moses, my Yorkshire Terrier.  Turns out he was more ready to meet the day than I was.  As soon as I opened the door, he turned into a 5-pound flash of lightning and bolted up the hill and down the street.  Standing there on the front porch in my pajamas, I had a moment of clarity.  Small steps were not going to cut it; I needed my running legs.  I realized that if I didn’t take action, my life was either going to pile up and decompose, like our dirty laundry, or take off, like Moses, without me. 

After tracking down the dog, I returned home with a stronger determination to get moving–out of this house and out of this depression.  To tackle my feelings of isolation and loneliness, I called up our one set of friends without access to my Facebook account and invited them over for pizza and Scrabble.  I then spent the next several hours packing.  Maybe I wasn’t going to suddenly return to my 100% self, but I did my darndest to fake it. 

My efforts were rewarded.  I had a good day and managed to get a good bit of packing finished.  While I was filling the boxes, I was reminded that moving, though a lot of work, does have its benefits.  It gives you the chance to take inventory of what you have in your life.  It’s a great opportunity to decide what you want to hang on to and what you might be ready to part with.  After moving several times, I’ve learned that I also have things that, although hold value, are not worth the burden of continuing to carry along with me.  I have a great example of this. 

At my mother’s funeral, I inherited a green houseplant.  I am not a houseplant person.  My thumbs are black.  But, I have done my best to keep it alive, as if my mother’s vitality was somehow transposed onto it.  Friends have helped me out, watering it while I was away and such.  One good friend even had mercy on me and re-potted the plant when it had vastly outgrown its original container.  I hadn’t noticed until she pointed that out.  Still, it has barely clung to life.  There have been numerous times that it narrowly escaped death.  Sometimes, I think it actually crossed over and I willed it back into being.  For 8 years, we have been engaged in this struggle.  I find it wilted and begging to be put out of its misery, and I don’t have the heart to throw it out, so I do what I can.  Like me, it has lived in 3 different states in the last 6 years.  It was so tempting to give it away at each of those points, but I felt too guilty.  Bringing it with me to a new home required a special trip, as houseplants are not allowed on moving trucks.  We’ve been many a mile together, but at a great cost.  Sunday, I took one look at the spindly thing with browning leaves curling at the edges and decided that life was too short to be at war with a Peace Lily.  I promptly heaved it into the garbage. 

I think that moving out of this depression may be a good opportunity to de-clutter emotionally, to let go of some things that just cause too much stress, or at least pack them away for another time.  Being at such a low point demands action, it constitutes change.  A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine commented to me that “it is when we are in the valleys that we can see the mountain tops.”  She’s completely right.  From this perspective on your life, you see where you’ve been and where you are.  It’s okay to spend some time in that lull.  Sometimes it might be the healthiest option you have.  But, there’s something about reaching the time to get moving on–to look at those mountains you’ve been running toward and decide which ones are actually worth the climb.

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