Someone admired my strategies the other day. I must say, it pleased me. Almost without consciously trying, I have accumulated a few. I realise they all fall, more or less, into the compassionate, common sense category.
When I say strategy, I mean, the ones that help me keep going anyway, and to work with, rather than against, my depression. For example, I know, that I need to go out and come back in again, regularly enough. It would be easy, given I work mostly inside, to stay inside. Now that I can forgive myself for being depressed and for my reclusive tendencies, it is so much clearer that I need, not should, but really need, to go out, and in, and out again, and so forth. Perhaps this sounds ridiculous to some, but its easier than you might think, to get stuck in a nest of cushions on a bed.
My strategies often feature food and promises. I was wondering if the kitchen itself is a strategy, but no, the kitchen is a lifeline. Maybe thats another post?
Promising to bring food gets me there, and there is often a dance floor. I belong to a dance practice called 5Rhythms, or it belongs to me? Anyway, its another lifeline and I wouldn’t be alright in the world without it. It holds me in a map of movement and in a human community. And even though I’ve internalised the map and the community and can rely on both when not on the dance floor, I also need to show up and practice. I’ve been part of a glorious group called, The Beat Goes On, for some long/short years. Its a place I call home. And even though it matters, that much, I was starting to fail to get there. It was breaking my heart, dear reader. I was losing heart. In the midst of all this defeat, a group ritual was born. A cake ritual. Now, it is the group norm that every member will receive a birthday cake. If a birthday falls in the break, or a person is away, it gets carried over. Its serious. Its a lot of cakes over a year. And mostly its me that makes and brings them. And as I would never, ever, not show up, if I’ve committed to bringing a person a birthday cake, its the cake that gets me to where I most need to be, onto the dance floor, in good company. Thats a strategy. I employ various versions of it, for different occasions. I promise to bring dessert to a dinner, or I announce on Facebook that I’m going to such and such tomorrow and I’m bringing meringues. Somewhere between the commitment to show up with food and a disinclination to humiliate myself publicly, unless absolutely unavoidable, I get myself in and out. Enough. Just.
I have a few small strategies, for behind the front door, in the sometimes unfathomable privacy of depression. For example, I’m a great lister, which is not always an asset for a depressive. Its the constantly being faced with lists of things not done and not done, that hurts. Still, its my nature, so a strategy I use, is to take one tiny thing off a list and make it the thing to do today. And it doesn’t even matter, if there’s a mighty judgement going on about how pitiful it is to need to do this, or how pathetic it might be to take a whole day to achieve having a bath. In truth, its neither. Its just the way of things, and the bath always feels healing when I’m in it, like the dance floor, its the getting there I need the strategies for.
I’m learning to celebrate the small triumphs, appreciate the small mercies, and occasionally turn a list into a poem.