There are many depression checklists in the world. Most include questions about sleeping, negative thoughts, life events, motivation, joy. My personal depression checklist should start with this: do I care if objects are out of place?
I brought home something last week, can’t remember what, took it out of a black plastic bag, crumpled up the bag and set it on the end table next to the couch. I probably had some reason for that, but I have no idea what it was. And there the bag sat. Every time I walked past it, I thought I should get rid of it. Recycle it, throw it away, fold it up for re-use — lots of options, but definitely something other than let it sit on the end table indefinitely.
Instead, there it sat. One day, then the next, then a couple more, while the weather was gloomy and oppressive, and the demands of the house (paint me! trim my trees! take out the garbage!) felt like a mountain too overwhelming to climb, and mostly, I just wanted to sleep or read or stare into space while pretending to either sleep or read. Well, wanted is the wrong word. I didn’t really want anything at all. Except maybe for the endless churning wheel of time to just let me off for a little break.
Yesterday, I saw the bag sitting on the table and without even thinking much about it, grabbed it and got rid of it. And then I put the headphones that had been hiding underneath it away. While I was at it, I straightened up the shelves, moved some dirty clothes into the right laundry baskets, decided to do a load of laundry, and hey, maybe fold some of the clothes that had been sitting around since last week’s load of laundry. And then, finally, I realized — I feel okay again. After really not feeling okay for several days.
I don’t know why I dropped into the pit or why I came out of it so quickly. At most, that was ten days or so of depression. But I also don’t know why I couldn’t recognize it as that while I was experiencing it. Note to self: tired, unproductive, gloomy, unwilling to make a smidgen of effort to live in a neater space = depression.
Today, though, the sun shone. I walked the dog and admired flowers (azaleas, I think, but I could be making that up) and felt summer in the air. My characters stirred in my brain and maybe even started chatting. And it’s March, which means February — almost always the worst month of the year for me — won’t be back for another year. Fingers crossed that the same is true for the part of me that lets empty plastic bags sit on end tables for days on end.