I haven't cleaned my house in the better part of a year.
Don't look at me like that!
I said *I* haven't cleaned my house. That doesn't mean it hasn't been done. It just hasn't been done by me.
You see, about a year ago, I started slipping into a bout of depression - worse and longer than I've experienced in many, many years. The kind of depression that makes it, some days, nigh impossible to even get out of bed let alone pick up a rag and *gasp* dust. Because seriously? On a rare good day when one has enough energy to dust, does one actually dust? NO! One goes out and enjoys the loosened chains that bind her.
So when it became clear I wasn't going to clean and when it became clear Peej desperately needed fast cash to get her car repaired, Lex and I struck a deal with her. We'd pay her $50 a cleaning - good money for a couple of hours of work - to have her come over and give The Grotto a working over once a month. Not quite up to my mother's once-a-week standards, mind you, but more often than it was getting done by me at the time.
But that also meant only the common areas - kitchen, bathroom, living room, etc were kissed and inappropriately fondled by Mr. Clean. My bedroom and Lex's bedroom were decidedly our own responsibilities. Which, of course, means my bedroom...well OK OUR bedrooms (because Lex is as bad about cleaning just normally as I am when I'm depressed)...have been thoroughly cleaned approximately 3 times...in a year+change.
It's easy to overlook filth when you know it's your own filth.
A couple of months ago though something began to happen.
I slowly started feeling better.
Just a little bit. So slowly at first it actually seemed as though I was getting worse instead of improving. In fact, my anxiety skyrocketed about 6 weeks ago to the point where I was waking up in the middle of the night freaked out and gasping for breath, never mind the fact that I couldn't look an entrance to the highway full on without panicking or contemplate the idea of driving even surface streets after dark.
But about a month ago, I was running late for work, feeling, for once, relatively pretty good, and decided I would brave the highway and I. Didn't. Die. That was my first clue that things were improving. Since then, I have only had to take surface streets to or from work once.
It was about that time I found myself out on a Saturday night - for GeekShow as it were - something I hadn't done in months. I'd been adamant when the depression set in that I would continue to go out and be social at least one weekend night every week no matter how shitty I felt. That turned out to be Friday nights because Fridays were largely planned for me and were nearly always Acr0nym's early nights where I could still be social and yet at home in my pajamas by midnight.
So I found myself out on a Saturday night and I. Didn't. Die. In fact, for the first time in a very long while I actually felt...normal. Well, OK, Jane Normal which is different than most people's idea of normal but still...I felt great! I talked to people who had, up until then, intimidated me. I laughed, I joked, I inappropriately touched the bald heads of strangers.
Ever since, I haven't shied away from shenanigans on a Saturday night. The weekends around here have been quite busy and happy and fun. I'm not angsty. I'm rarely anxious to the point of panic. I look forward to seeing people, expending energy on others, connecting with people in a way I've not allowed myself to since last year.
Beyond Saturday nights though, four other things have happened that are solid indicators of my improved mental state.
1) I've begun organizing regular Church 'o Brunches again. That's not to say I've not had brunch in the last year. I just haven't been throwing these Sunday midday gatherings with any kind of regularity. Most often, I haven't even been the one who's been the instigator. But the last two weeks there has been brunch. Good brunch. With bacon. Because I said so.
2) I've found my funny again. Believe it or not, I'm kind of known for my one liner zingers. My timing is typically impeccable. However, I have been too pre-occupied and sad to turn the funny juice on so when, on Memorial Day, I was sitting around Acr0nym's table with a delightful group of friends and dazzling them with my wit, and was told people ought not to eat peanuts around me as I have a tendency to cause spontaneous laughter and subsequent inhalation of whole peanuts, I felt...back.
3) On Thursday, I got up, took my shower, got dressed, and then, as I headed back toward my room and the computer with a cup of coffee I smiled to myself and thought, "I love this hour of the day. This hour I have all to myself to enjoy a cuppa joe and the morning is my favorite hour of the day." I hadn't thought that in quite some time.
4) Last night, after I'd run errands and started several loads of laundry, I decided it was high time I cleaned my room. I mean really clean my room - vacuuming and dusting included. There are things I left undone - a pile of paperwork I need to sort through and shred and I didn't clean the windows or dust the baseboards but, for all intents and purposes, my room is clean. And it felt SO GOOD, I cleaned the bathroom. My car is next.
I'm back. And even though today was largely sucked away by migraine and the subsequent brain fog that comes in its wake, I feel really good. Happy. Hopeful.
I feel like me again.
I've experienced bouts of depression since I was a kid. I've never been medicated for it - that's a choice I've made...to change my brain chemistry through natural means whenever possible. I acquired skills and tools to help me through rough times and that's usually all it takes. However, the last year has been one of the hardest of my life between physical ailments and trauma, family strife with my dad, heartache, and major work challenges. This is the first time in my life I seriously considered medication.
But I didn't request anything from my doctor. I made it through. I'm cautiously optimistic that this round is over and I've emerged victorious.
I love being me.
And frankly? I really love my life.
And that's what I found under a thick layer of dust last night. A life definitely worth living. My life. And me.