On Playing Life Like a Beast

May 15 2014

“Mom, I just played that game like a BEAST,” said the 7 year old, high on video games and higher on a bone-weary mommy who was just as interested in giving him extra screen time as he was in having it. “Sometimes I win and sometimes I just DIE, Mom, you know? But I played like a BEAST, and that’s the thing that feels good, Mom. That’s the thing.”

And Cael’s right, because sometimes we win, and sometimes we just DIE. But when we play like a beast, that’s the best thing. The best. I feel AWESOME when I play life like a beast and I get the kids to school on time, and I remember to set the coffee timer, and I finish all the laundry, and I scrub the blue frosting and gummy ketchup and petrified boogers off the couch more than, oh, say, every other month. A BEAST. Like, I can do all the things, humans! ALL THE THINGS. BOOM!

Sometimes, though, I don’t play like a beast. Sometimes, I hide my head and my feelings. And sometimes depression and anxiety and lethargy win. They play like a beast, and I… well… don’t. 

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last month trying to rein the depression back in. Earlier this time. Before it got too far out. And I spent time wondering whether I was jumping the gun on calling the doctor and talking to Greg and increasing the meds or whether I was being proactive. Slowing the yo-yo. Shortening the cycle. Learning to listen to my mind and my body and my heart and my family. And giving myself the benefit of the doubt that the lethargy isn’t lazy and the overwhelmed isn’t an inability to deal. 

I keep hearing from depression sufferers that September is Depression Month. That depression often comes with the start of school and the brisk winds of fall and matches our moods to the feeling that winter is coming. That it’s time to wither. But I must be on the Southern Hemisphere Depression Plan where the seasons are upside down, because when spring springs forward, so does my depression, apparently. Like winter took its toll and I’m finally catching up, and even though everything else is coming back to life, I’m busy dying a little. And I’ve felt like I can’t do anything right if I’m depressed in May – I mean, who has the nerve to be numb when the sunshine returns or ragey as the temperatures rise? I’m even doing depression wrong, I think – but I know that’s depression talking, and if I’ve learned anything by now, it’s that Depression is a Lying Liar Who Lies. I’m doing depression just fine, Depression, so back off.

I’ve found myself thinking lately that I have nothing to say, which is one of the lies Depression tells me. Or, rather than nothing to say, (because the truth is I have LOTS of somethings to say – most notably that I wore a rather large thigh hole in my favorite pair of pants, damn it, and why do we sell knee patches for kids’ jeans and not thigh patches for my jeans which need ’em JUST AS BAD??), I’ve thought I ought not bother anyone with my senseless mental blather because, Depression whispers, I have nothing important to say. Nothing different than anyone else. Nothing new. Nothing pressing. Nothing earth shattering. Which is all true. TOTALLY true. I have nothing new or different or earth shattering to say. And so, the temptation when anxiety and depression take over, is to say nothing at all instead of to believe the truth, which is that all of us have overlapping, sometimes stunningly similar stories, and all of our stories are still deeply worth telling, over and over and over again, with whatever words or pictures we can cobble together, because we have all of this – this life, these questions, this doubt, this longing, this angst, these thigh holes – in common.

If there’s one thing the world needs, it’s places to come together. To be ourselves. To bring our depression and our thigh holes and our winning and our losing and lay it all out on the table together. To sort through it all, rummage sale style. To pick up pieces and do show and tell. Because the longer I live, the more I’m convinced that’s it. THAT’s playing life like a beast. To be in it, winning and losing and dying and quitting and coming back to life. To bring it. All of it. And to share.

So I wanted to ask today… how are you? How are you following Mother’s Day? How are you this May? Winning? Just DYING? Playing life like a BEAST? Tell me your story. I’d like to hear it, even – maybe especially – if you think you have nothing to say.