Wake Me When September Ends!

September has been a rough month for me.

The last several months have been rough, but September was particularly rough.

At the end of August we went on a bit of a holiday, and had a really nice time. We went to a friends cabin and spent a few days there, just my wife and I. Then our friends showed up and we spent a few days with them. We had a blast….. and then we left. I had thought that I had been dealing with all the COVID “crap” pretty well, then I realized that all the physical distancing, and the small social circles, really, REALLY sucked. I don’t have a lot of friends I can spend time with here. Since moving to Ottawa I haven’t been able to join any recreational activities, and I’ve only worked for a short while. I’ve spent most of the 2 years here sitting in my house. I never really considered just how much I’ve been alone. Along comes COVID and at least I had been quarantining with my wife, but my wife is back to work now, and I’ve been spending most of my time alone at home, and I really don’t do well by myself over time.

The weeks following our trip were particularly tough. I was in a real funk; or, as I started calling it:

I was “having a wobble”.

My insecurities were really eating me alive the first few weeks or so. I have more insecurities than I can conveniently list here, but the worst one lately is: I don’t feel sexy.

Now, that is going to sound stupid to probably everyone, but it’s true. The fact that it’s stupid is exactly why I’m reluctant to mention it, and (ironically) is also exactly why I am mentioning it. We don’t get to choose our mental challenges; and I would imagine my feelings on this are no different than most people that are reluctant to talk about the things that bother us, because individually they are silly, and bother us WAY more than we care to admit. I’m 48 years old, in full blown midlife crisis mode, transitioning to a new career, and for 6 months I’ve been at home doing little more than working out; and I’m not sure I’m getting the results I want. Pile that last (and admittedly small) issue onto everything else, and I start to “wobble”.

There are lots of details that I could get into, but I’m not going to. The reason I’m writing this isn’t to go into gory details of why I’m struggling, its to let people know that its ok to struggle; and struggle about stupid stuff.

2020 has seen some truly outrageous, and unprecedented things happen. Personal stress levels are skyrocketing and no one can tell us where our limits are, or how much is too much. Only we can truly understand how much stress we are under, and if something small (or stupid) sets us off, that’s ok! Its not just “one stupid small thing” that “we should feel embarrassed about”, its an enormous pile of “stupid, small things” that, when combined, are neither stupid, nor small. In my experience depression is a death of a thousand cuts, not one big one.

Fortunately I’m coming out of it. My strategy was to try and do one thing every day. Some days it was laundry, some days it was dishes, some days it was working out, and some days it was nothing at all. (We don’t always win our battles.) I persevered though, and after a while my daily thing turned into two daily things, and a few days after that it was three.

I’m pretty much back to normal now, but that doesn’t mean that I’m “depression free”. I’m not an expert, but I treat my depression like an addiction: there is always going to be that pull in the back of my brain. Some days it is stronger than others, and in some situations its going to pull more.

“Wobbles” in life are normal, everyone has ups and downs. Life is a wheel: sometimes you’re up in the sun, sometimes you’re down in the dirt, but the only time you’re permanently one or the other is when the wheel stops rolling.