Friday, February 26, 2016

Bouncing Back

All the things that were making me listless a couple of days ago came back triple today. For a while there I was caught between a multitude of things I needed to do, paralyzed with indecision and crumbling under the weight of my responsibilities.

It was strange. I realized what was happening as it happened. I thought to myself, "Charlie, you're having a breakdown. This is what a breakdown feels like." I half-heartedly attempted to start things, tried to distract myself from the problem, and sat motionless each in turn, aware as I was doing these things that they were not helping. It was a strange, almost out-of-body experience watching myself struggle like that.

And then, suddenly, everything snapped back into place.

I haven't had many breakdowns in my life. I can only think of one other time, following a pretty intense heartbreak over a decade ago. It was a much more intense breakdown than this one, driven as it was by emotion: despair, resentment, and so on. However, the end result was the same: no melodrama or anything, just listlessly going through the motions of my routine.

I don't suffer from depression, but I've heard that one useless piece of advice people sometimes give is to "make the decision to be happy," as if it's as simple as realizing that being sad is kind of a bummer and deciding to just kind of give it up. I'm no psychologist, but from what I understand that advice suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of what clinical depression actually is.

That said, I think I actually understand why people might give that advice. I mean, sure, it's probably useless for fighting clinical depression, but that's exactly what it feels like when I snap out of a breakdown. One moment I'm feeling lifeless, and then suddenly I think, "You know what? This sucks. Time to move on." And then I do.

For days after that bad breakup I was barely cognizant of my surroundings. I don't remember the days between that broken heart and the end of the breakdown; I actually don't remember if it lasted a couple of days or an entire week. I only remember the day it began and the moment it ended: I was working at a grocery store, stocking shelves, when a song came on I'd never heard before on the store's PA: "Let's Groove Tonight," by Earth, Wind, and Fire. Suddenly I realized I couldn't be sad anymore, not while this song was playing. So, I grooved to the music and bounced back, somewhat giddy from losing that weight I decided to stop carrying.

Similarly, today I suddenly realized I couldn't stay useless forever. I needed to get some work done and start figuring out a solution to my problem. So, I simply decided the breakdown was over. After that decision, I got up, turned on some music, and prepared myself some lunch. There may have been some dancing involved.

I still have a lot of work to do, but I can see a path out of my predicament. Knowing there's an end in sight lifted a weight from my shoulders and allowed me to get back to work with gusto. Once again, I felt giddy. And the only thing that really changed was my outlook.

I'm not sure I could have made that decision at any point prior to that moment. Maybe I could have bounced back sooner or never broke down to begin with. Everything was a haze, followed by a moment of clarity. At that point it was over, though I can't say if it was the decision that brought clarity or if it was the clarity that allowed the decision to be made. It's a mystery to me, and one I'm not interested in studying from first-hand experience again any time soon.

1 comment:

  1. CHARLIE. I didn't realize, man. Lets make like Gorbechev and tear down some walls.