Wow have things been good and busy with me, and not busy in the I-am-filling-up-my-schedule-to-have-control-over-life kind of busy. Progress!
Going off to New York and spending time in the mountains, working for a cafe/catering company and jumping back into classes have kept me with a packed planner and less sleep than I'm used to getting, but there hasn't been a massive meltdown moment where I end up curled in a corner or crying alongside my hysterically beating heart. Take that, panic.
Now, this has much to do with the miracle of antidepressants, yes, but every other inch of my present is working together, making me feel safe. Safety is the motivation for my every action. It isn't love or justice or peace or control even. Honestly.
Being depressed is like being on defense, never offense. It's like having that fight or flight feeling from the time you wake up to when you finally get to sleep. I never felt safe. When I wasn't regarding myself with judgment and hate, I was looking at everything around me with paranoia.
So I slept. I tried going to sleep at 8pm just to make the day end, and I'd wake before 7am feeling exhausted, only getting an hour before the fear made its way into that new day. Should I even leave the house? No one really wants to see me anyways. I won't have anywhere to go, unless I spend money or just drive. I hate driving. I hate parking. I hate people. Wah wah wah.
I slept, and I ate. Once I ate an entire pan of brownies and tried throwing up immediately after. I was alone, of course. Stuff like that is harder to do in company.
But I didn't just overeat, I obsessed. It felt so normal--terrible, but normal--to think about the next meal or worry about whether or not I'd have food when I needed it, as if my primal instinct was always warning me not to starve, and then I'd end the day ashamed for what I had done. God, it was humiliating. I ate like I deserved to gain weight. Like I didn't want anyone to see me. Like my outside needed to look as heavy and unhinged as my insides did.
When I tried asking for help from friends it usually went like this: they'd be embarrassed for a second, hastily say, "You're beautiful!" or just laugh it off like gaining weight unhealthily was a joke; then the next time we were at a restaurant or eating in, they'd ask if I wanted more and more and more, like we were untouchable, like it wasn't eating me.
No one wants to talk about this because it's uncomfortable, but I needed a friend to look at me and say, "You aren't OK, and you don't need this to make it better. Food (or sleep or guys or isolating yourself) can't do that, but I can help you find someone/something that can, Meg." I needed an advocate, because I couldn't help myself.
This is WAY TOO MUCH to ask of twenty-somethings, but that's the sucky thing about experiencing tragedy at a younger age--those are the people surrounding you. No, no, I'm not trying to blame my friends, because they helped in the ways they knew how. They took me to Starbucks and left me alone when I needed it and made sure less-safe people steered clear of me and were always available for venting or laughing about hard topics.
Still, I expected them to do the big things. I know now not to lean so heavily on others, especially when those others are doing college and work and maneuvering social situations, not wresting with depression brought on by a parent's suicide.
The trick is asking the right people. They were the ones who were in good places, places that gave them the room to carry some of my burden. I couldn't ask questions or properly explain how I felt or voice what I needed, but they were able to fill in the blanks. (P.S. parents and psychologists and pastors and psychiatrists are who I'm referring to here.)
So all this goes back to safety. In those darker days, I tried making myself feel safe with sleep and food and isolation, but now I have more space to find/see what truly gives me that snug, warm, protected feeling:
small spaces (pillow-nests in bed, cozy chairs, corners, hugs)
knowing my role (leader, follower, observer, initiator)
allowing myself to mess up and give a little less than normal
cleaning, but keeping an unmade bed
calling mom without a second thought
listening to my gut and heart, and giving my brain a break
therapy, therapy, therapy
being honest, but holding back from giving everything up too quickly
podcasts to fill stressful silence
abstaining from romantic relationships
eating delicious things
but eating vegetables, too
loving others through words of affirmation and appreciation, apologizing, time, listening, and lowering my vast expectations
watching less TV I don't actually care about
showing my body more love and less criticism
exploring spirituality in Jesus, Buddhism, signs, awareness, and other, beautiful, complicated beings
I'm sure this list will ebb and flow--as all lists do--but feeling safe and making space gives me the wiggle room for those changes.
Now, it's time for me to change out of pajamas, leave my home, and get shit done. (This sentence would not have existed nine months ago, not even four months ago.) Wahoo.