Today we get to the good stuff, the “happy ending”, of yesterday’s post (read it here). I was in such a dark place when we moved to Las Vegas. I couldn’t get out of Salt Lake City fast enough. As I followed our moving truck south, I remember feeling hopeful for the first time in several years. Things would have to be different in Vegas, right? They had to be, didn’t they?
Thankfully, they were.
I wish I could say that I had an epiphany one day. I wish I could say that through Tij’s unflinching love and support I was healed. But it wasn’t that dramatic or that quick. It just kind of…happened. Allie, from hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com, said her big turning point was when she was crying on her kitchen floor and she spotted a piece of corn under her fridge and started laughing hysterically. Depression is kind of nonsensical like that. It comes, it goes, it does whatever the crap it wants.
Those first few months in Vegas were like an extended vacation. My only real responsibilities were to keep the house reasonably clean and food in the fridge. I slept (real sleep, not escapist sleep) as much as I wanted. I rarely went out, preferring to lay at home, reading, watching BBC, or listening to audio-books. i detached myself from the world. It was a relief that I didn’t have to “fake” it anymore. I didn’t have to go to work with a smile on my face. I didn’t know anyone in town yet so I didn’t have to socialize and pretend like I was enjoying myself. I wore pajamas. I rarely did my makeup. I just let myself be me. No prodding, no telling myself to “get it together”, no pressuring myself to “be better”. If it didn’t sound interesting or I didn’t want to do it, I just didn’t. That included showering and cooking dinner. (Tij is obviously a very patient, kind person. He has been incredibly supportive. He’s been through a lot with me and I’m relieved he’s stuck it out. He’s just the best.)
And then we got the rats. Pets can do wonders for your mental health. (There have been studies conducted that prove that petting a dog or cat can lower your heart-rate and stress level.) At that point, I didn’t care about much in my life, but boy did I care about my girls. I could 100% be myself around them. There were days when they’d sit on the couch with me for hours while I held Netflix marathons and they didn’t judge. They just made me feel loved and didn’t ask anything of me.
And have you ever heard of SAD (seasonal affective disorder)? Some people call it the winter blues? Yeah, that’s not really a thing here in Vegas. Being able to spend time outdoors and getting back in touch with nature has been really beneficial too.
Slowly, but surely, I mended. I went from feeling miserable, to feeling ambivalent, to actually feeling contentment. I remember truly laughing at one of Tij’s jokes and he looked at me and said “I haven’t heard that in a while”. Tij and I started dating each other again. I entered the social scene, tentatively at first. I still feel like I have to keep my social schedule small to keep myself from getting overwhelmed, but I’ve made some really good, supportive friends here. I tested out old hobbies to see if I still enjoyed them. I tried to look for new hobbies, but set no expectations for myself. I looked for my happy. I tried getting to know myself again.
I am not depressed anymore. But I am on guard. I know now that I am susceptible to depression and I want to avoid going through it again at all costs. I try to exercise (endorphins), I write (vent), I get enough sleep, I try not to over-schedule myself, and I pray. But it’s an ongoing process. The bad habits of self-criticism and self-abuse remain. I still struggle to manage my stress and anxiety. I get easily tired and overwhelmed. I am doing my best to better cope with life. I know that in the future I will not be so fancy free and more responsibilities will come my way. I want to be prepared so that I can enjoy them and not just survive them. Still, I am so, so grateful for this time in Vegas where I didn’t have to work, didn’t have to worry, and just got to heal.
Again, thanks for listening. Writing about my life and experiences helps me so much. It’s all part of the process. What makes you happy? Are you finding ways to relax and deal with stress? I hope so. Life is a funny thing. It should be fun too.