“The idea that every day is another opportunity to battle the constant barrage of thoughts that inform me of my every weakness both perceived and real, is often too overwhelming to contemplate and the TV – that always friendly source of absolutely brain free entertainment is an increasingly constant friend.” (cue emphatic “uh huh”-ing and encouraging-foot-stomping) – Katharine Welby
For me, tv is often a way to block out those damning voices Katharine talks about, and sometimes I think of it as a way to escape the unrelenting frustration that pops up like those rodents in Whack-A-Mole–I can just ignore them for awhile, let them all pop up unchecked, maybe they’ll even knock each other out with their incessant bubbling about.
For much of the year, I’ve felt powerless to this addiction which I hated. I wanted to want to do anything else, I wanted for anything else to have a salve like the sit-com sets and the period drama costumes. Almost a year ago, a friend said to me, “If you just admit you like watching tv, you’ll probably do less of it.”
I doubted that he was right. I also doubted that I could own up to such a love. But more recently (months and months after the advice was dispensed), I’ve started saying it out loud, I’ve started talking about this escape–The Office, my tela novellas, my addiction to period dramas. This made me realize that the enemy is not netflix (as I’d been side-eyeing and growling for more than a year).
The enemy is depression.
I have started watching less tv since I’ve started talking about it, and since I started talking (writing) about my depression a few months ago, it’s felt a little less powerful, too.
Naming really does work. Naming sin and struggle really does break evil up into shards. I don’t think that starting to talk about it has made my depression let up at all, nor has it made it any easier to get out of bed, but I do feel like I don’t have to wear a mask–oh, us Duke girls and the mask we are so good at putting on.
The energy I’d been wasting hating on netflix, wondering if I should cancel the subscription, feeling powerless to the bright red box (my nails even boast the familiar red at the moment), I can now use to hate on the real culprit: mental illness.
There are plenty of voices every day that tell me I’m making it all up, that if I’d just stop mooning about and making such a big deal about things, all would be well. “It’s all in your head.” “You’re just spoiled and childish and need to grow up.” “If you just choose to be happy and make wise decisions, you’d be fine.” (or the well-meaning encouragement recently received in a note: “Jesus never said it would be easy!”)
So I’m still fighting those voices that pop up like whack-a-mole, and it takes constant vigilance to remember and remind myself that even though they sound an awful lot like what I think my voice is, they’re not me and they’re telling lies. These diseased whispers scrape up bits of memory and, balling them up together, blow their own energy into the almost-true mash-ups of the past. It makes them even harder to resist. “You used to be so productive, what happened to you?” “You’ve always been this tired, you just used to be tougher.”
Comparison is indeed the thief of joy. Maybe it did used to be easier for me to tell the truth again and again against voices and walls built up to the contrary, maybe I didn’t used to struggle so with the shortness of a day or with the reality of atrophy, but now I do.
I have a piece of art above my desk that reminds me, “Now is now.” All we can do is tell the truth now. For almost a year, I couldn’t say out loud–or say “out loud” on the internet–that I am depressed. This is the truth. I am struggling to hope. All we can do is tell the truth now. The truth now is that I know my Redeemer lives, and he will bring me with him on the last day.