Mental Health

Surviving Like a Bug Stuck in a Skimmer

Depression hit hard today, with residual mania from yesterday lingering behind.

I spent the first six hours of today laying on the couch. Thoughts of undeserved worthlessness cycled repetitively through my mind; like a rabid swarm of self-hatred bees. I had so much to do today – so many things planned. I was up half the night thinking about all the things I needed to do today.

Last night, my mind acted like a broken record of to-do-lists. A record playing, tragically, over-and-over. Yet, when today came, none of the things were done. No laundry. No walking. No yoga. No grocery shopping. Just the couch, and worthlessness. So much worthlessness.

By hour seven I was feeling especially horrible. A pitiful desperation started forming in me. I was sick of feeling worthless. And I mean that, literally; my repetitive feelings of worthlessness were making me physically ill. Nausea. Headache. Dizziness. Aching hips and shoulders from laying all day. Dehydration. I was accidentally willing myself ill.

I needed to accomplish something today. I couldn’t let this happen to me, not again. I couldn’t let depression come in, and make a prisoner of me again. Once depression is in, it stays far too long. I needed to kick it out before it made a home for itself… before it went too far, and became something I couldn’t escape. Before seven hours turned into two weeks.

My mind landed on reading. Reading outside, to be exact. Good idea, right? A little sunlight, a good book; sounds like the perfect cure for early-stage-depression.

To clarify, this isn’t a normal “depression situation”. People can’t “decide to not be depressed”. That’s not how it works. Depression is demanding. Depression is often inescapable. But, in my case, just for today, I felt efficient enough to try. Maybe it was the residual mania, still lingering from yesterday … I had just enough residual mania to kick-start my system.

I was slightly proud of myself. I’d made a decision to do something… and now, I just had to do it. However, this presented an entirely different problem: my indecisiveness in picking a book. This seems like an easy decision, and most days it would be. But not today. Oh no. Not today.

One-by-one, I started pulling books from my bookshelf. I analyzed each book, individually. Each book, after quick consideration, was rejected. There was something wrong with each book; the first book seemed too sad, the second book seemed too cheerful, the third book didn’t seem cheerful enough… And each rejected book ended up in the floor. Stacked in chaotic piles, with no rhyme or reason.

This process went on for five minutes. During which I found myself sitting in the floor, surrounded by the de-shelved books, crying hysterically. It was an absolute mess. Hyperventilating. Crying. Rearranging stacks of books. Hyperventilating. Looking at a book. Crying. This book isn’t right. Crying. That book isn’t right either. Hyperventilating. I want to throw this book. Crying. I can’t throw this book. More crying. Sit the book down before you throw it. Headache. Sit the book down before you rip it in half. Dry throat. Dizziness. It’s a good thing I’m sitting down. Crying. I never should have gotten off the couch. Hyperventilating. I’m worthless. This was stupid. Frantic. Exhaustion. Dehydration. Energy is gone. Headache.

Anger. Anger happened.

The anger surprised me. The anger caught me off guard. I was so confused, I actually snapped out of my “book fit”. Anger isn’t an emotion I’m used to experiencing during depression. It was almost like my depression became indecisiveness, which became frustration, which became hysteria, which resulted in anger… This was something I had never experienced before.

I was angry. I was angry that I couldn’t make one simple decision. One simple, silly decision. For once, I was actually making a conscious effort to fight my depression. But I was failing. Really failing. And it was making me really angry.

So, I did the only thing I knew to do; I grabbed the stack of random books closest to me, and I walked straight outside. Weird reaction, I know. But it’s what I did.

I sat down in the backyard and immediately felt a wave of accomplishment; I’d made it outside. Sure, I still had seven books to choose from, but at least I’d made it outside. Making it outside might not seem like a big deal. But in that moment it was huge.

I sat out back, and felt the near setting sun on my skin. I felt warm. I felt nice. I sat, for what seemed like a long time. I was probably in a trance from the overload of emotion I had just experienced. I needed a moment to recharge. I felt exhausted, yet replenished. Being outside was a big deal, and it felt great.

I wasn’t ready to select a book, but I had a sudden rush of adrenaline. So, I decided to skim the pool [You know, when you take a pool skimmer and get the leaves and stuff off the surface of the water? That.]

I grabbed the skimmer, and started dipping leaves out of the pool. It was oddly therapeutic. I was accomplishing something. I was doing a chore that needed to be done. I dipped the skimmer in, and it would come back out holding leaves, I would re-dip it, and it would come back out with even more leaves… it was rewarding.

But then, between the fourth and fifth dip, I noticed something; there was a live bug in the skimmer, and it was panicking. I thought to myself; “Dear God, I’ve been dipping this little guy under the water, over-and-over, and he is struggling to survive”. I quickly pulled the skimmer from the water, and sat it in the grass. I watched as the bug scurried away.

The poor little guy had been dipped, over-and-over, under the water… and had been struggling to breathe. Then I realized; “I’M LIKE A BUG STUCK IN A SKIMMER”. There were so many similarities between my reality, and what I had just seen the bug experience.

Gasping for breath. Hanging on. Just trying to survive.

Surviving like a bug stuck in a skimmer.

Surviving Bipolar Depression

Sincerely, Uncustomary Housewife

20 comments on “Surviving Like a Bug Stuck in a Skimmer

  1. sharonschwartz2018

    Bless your ❤️ Thanks for your transparency!

  2. This is a raw post – and it’s wonderful. Big hugs to you and that little bug!

  3. Sending positive energy and love. Thank you for sharing and making us part of your journey. You are worthy ❤️

  4. Awwww… I know so well the desperation and the feeling of worthlessness and failure, and then the added trouble with those lists where one cannot manage to cross off one thing, just one tiny little thing.
    And so much about anger being “bad” for you. LOL
    In those situations it’s a life-saver.
    Great analogy with the bug… that’s exactly how it feels!

  5. I personally understand the feelings of deep, dark, lasting depression. As you noted, this kind of depression is not a choice and not something that can be shrugged off by watching a good movie or talking with a friend. Those things do help, if you can do them, of course. I unashamedly take medication for major depressive disorder (MDD aka clinical depression). It helps, but sometimes there’s residual depression.

    I just wanted to thank you for pointing out the book choice situation. I have been trying to get ahold of a number of books from the library (they’re checked out by others), and I finally landed one. And now that I have it, I can’t seem to get into it. There’s a restlessness. It doesn’t seem just right, but *none* of the other books feel right. That tells me I’m still depressed.

    I’m still going to try to get into that book, though! We can fight to survive like that bug. 🙂

  6. butfirstxanax

    I can one hundred percent relate to this, you are never alone.

  7. reading your story felt like you had been looking into my window and I am on the couch w/blanket crying….seeing me like that bug…discovering my love for writing about something I am passion about autism helped me become unstuck…like your honesty

  8. My God! What a phenomenal writer you are ! I spoke to your dad a couple of weeks ago letting him know unfortunately that my dad had recently passed and he wanted me to tell David how much he thought of him etc etc. (they played ball together) After I was able to quit crying I told him how much I enjoyed seeing pics of the two of you and on your journeys etc etc. He is so incredibly proud of you and told me about your blog. I was definitely going to check it out and was tickled to death when he sent me the link. I have never experienced pain like I am losing my dad , my best friend , my everything so I’m finally getting that chance to look into it. Im so glad I did! First and foremost I can only hope you are feeling better. My dad suffered from depression and the shit is real. The whole mental illness is real and it is something I feel strongly about. It’s definitely no joking matter. I read this and felt compelled to tell you how impressive your writing is. Obviously not the circumstance, but wow. Maybe one day I’ll get to meet you in person. Take care!!

    • Thank you so much for your comment and kind words. I’m very sorry to hear that your dad passed away. It’s nice to hear that I have some family out there; perhaps we can meet some day.

  9. cataleyastories

    Just thank you, really !

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