In the last few months, I’ve all but disappeared from polite society. I keep running into people and explaining the same things over and over. Yes, I do still live in Ottawa. No, I haven’t been ignoring you. I’m “focusing on me” because I’ve been “having a tough time” lately. Depending on how close we are, I might explain more.
You may or may not know how quietly spirit crushing my last year has been, how I’ve been making all the right moves but the universe hasn’t quite lined up for me, how I found myself without a job or a home. I kept my head above water for as long as I could until suddenly, I couldn’t.
I have post traumatic stress disorder and am used to trigger-based fluctuations in my mood and perhaps that is why I did not take my building depression seriously. And without the financial resources to access mental health care, my “severely depressed” diagnosis felt more like a bad joke than a call to action.
The trouble is, no matter how much money I simply don’t have to get help, it just kept getting worse. Depression became all-consuming. I stopped seeing friends, I stopped going to events where I usually find joy, I quit my job, I stopped writing, I stopped eating.
I lost weight because of how little I was eating and now my pants won’t stay up, no matter how much I wash and dry them or how many belts I try. Not even my leggings will cling to my butt enough to just stay up. When I realised my clothes weren’t fitting anymore, part of me was so excited. Does this mean if I keep hardly eating and being sad as fuck, the weight will just fall off? Finally, a perk to my incredible sadness.
But then guilt hit when I remembered that I didn’t lose weight for good reasons, that not eating enough food shouldn’t be celebrated. Besides, I’m happy with my body and losing weight wasn’t a goal anyway. That feeling of accomplishment, of “achieving” something so desired by our society, didn’t disappear. I had to work through it and remind myself to eat and think deeply about the unlearning I still have to do about my body and the patriarchy and beauty standards. The result is not that exciting. Now, I’m just pissed off because my damn clothes don’t even fit properly and it’s not like I can afford new things.
But that anger is thrilling. It signals that I’m not thinking unhealthily about my body still. It signals that I’m starting to catch up after whatever steps backwards I took when I couldn’t see through my cloudy mind. That I have a home and a job, that I can feel anger instead of emptiness, that I can write again—these are real things to celebrate, not dropping down a pant size or two.
I’m slowly rebuilding. Though I still don’t have the money to get proper professional help, I’m doing my best. I’m leaning on the people who love me and dedicating myself simply to being okay and the results have been incredible. I remind myself every day that I’m an unstoppable force of energy, though it feels truer some days than others. I’m still “focusing on me” and “having a tough time” but I have a home and a job and I’m eating enough food again and I’ll slowly get the rest back in there too. As of today, I’m even writing again.
The path to feeling good is not linear and the ways in which depression has manifested in my life are astounding me still. I’m nervous about seeing friends who always make me smile and going to shows that usually get me excited. I’m still working really hard at being a human and have daily existential crises. I still have to think harder than I’d like to about eating, about getting out of bed. But I’ll get there. For now, I’m halfway to somewhere and it feels really, really good.