Even my very supportive spouse tends to think that I am merely taking days off when I am struggling with depression. It is hard to communicate that what looks like a great, relaxed day for other people is, for me, the result of being unable to focus at all, on anything, and mostly just sleeping and feeling miserable for inexplicable reasons. Yes, Netflix is on, but I am not watching it, let alone enjoying it. I am looking for the sounds of words outside those inside my head. The ones on Netflix are having adventures. The ones inside my head are telling me I’m worthless and everything is futile, and no I can’t just cheer up.
When people response to your depression with “go out, get some exercise” and “eat better, you’ll feel better” and suggestions you are merely taking time off and being lazy, your depressed brain internalizes all those words as further evidence that you are terrible. At everything. After all, if you just ate that salad, you’d be fine!
Which is why I think I may have given myself the ultimate evidence this week that no, depression is not a just matter of not eating the salads, taking the walks, perking oneself up by one’s will: I was too depressed to write a tiny little sabbatical proposal. The same one they gave us is a page and a half long. Who can’t manage that? Most of my blog posts are longer than that.
Who couldn’t manage it? Me that’s who. So yeah, if this were all about lazing about, NOTHING would be a bigger prize than the sabbatical. Nonetheless, two years in a row, I’ve been too depressed to pull that big-bad page and a half together. The page-and-a-half golden ticket to hours and hours of endless slacking and slobbing. Ironic, eh? Yeah, my inactivity has nothing to do with slack and slobbing and everything to do with a brain hard-wired to hate myself.
Sabbatical proposals are due today. Wish me luck. I am going to try to slop something together and hope like hell nobody reads it, as it will be incoherent and horrible. It will be a testimony to the fact that I am, in all likelihood, utterly washed up as a researcher. But I can’t stand failing to turn anything in TWO YEARS IN A ROW.