Usually, I write here for two reasons: 1. to chronicle the progress of therapy; 2. to purge my mind from thoughts I can’t let go. Today, I write to remind myself of how far I’ve already come, because my newly acquired stress-regulating abilities really get put to the test by a family crisis. I’m trying my best to not let it influence me any more than absolutely necessary, and to concentrate on doing what’s helping me, which takes a lot of effort: I’m still in the process of learning how NOT to worry constantly about problems.
On Monday, one of my former co-workers gave a farewell party where I saw a colleague who had not been part of the meeting two weeks ago. We had known each other since June last year, when I was at my lowest, and this had been the first contact since early March. She asked, “Have you been on holidays?” I shook my head. “Well, you look like someone put new batteries into you.”
Mentioning this might sound vain to some and trivial to others, but little moments like this are what keeps me going when everyday life is more difficult than usually. Especially since this is not my therapist, who is trained to pay attention to this, or a friend trying to encourage me (not that I don’t value their respective opinions), but a spontaneous compliment that tells me I REALLY must be going somewhere if it starts penetrating my appearance even.
This particular colleague has only known me at my worst, and while I can’t tell the difference since I see myself in the mirror every day and the change is too gradual to notice that way, I have a very good idea of what depression does to people’s looks. Every time I’m at the hospital, I see the in-patients dragging themselves through the hallway: sallow skin, dark circles under their eyes and dull hair; with faces so utterly devoid of joy as if they had never laughed in their life.
A year ago, I was very close to this. It didn’t quite get to the point where I stopped showering (even though taking a shower was very exhausting), but anything beyond that was too much effort. I didn’t care that my haircut grew out or what clothes I wore, and if I did, it was too much effort to change anything about it.
For a native German, I have a rather tanned complexion, so that I get mistaken for mediterranean somewhat regularly, but even my skin became grey and lifeless, not to mention that the psychomotor retardation had more or less petrified me, wiped the facial expressions away.
I must have resembled those people at the hospital considerably, and when I look into the mirror now, there is a person who appears to be a lot more alive and lively. A person who pays attention to her outfit, who started wearing jewellery again, who tries to make an effort with her hair. And I’m not going to let this person go down the drain again.