I’m making this up as I go…
Imagine someone waking you up very abruptly one morning. You’ve been hanging out in paradise, whatever that looks like to you, eating chocolate and sitting around for a couple of years. That’s what everyone does, you’ve been doing everything right. What I’m getting at is, you wake up one morning, definitely not marathon ready, after doing everything right, and someone tells you that it’s time to get out of bed and run a marathon.
“Weird,” you think, “but okay, 26.2 miles. That’s a long time, and I can’t run, but okay, I guess that’s what I’m doing today.”
So you start running this marathon, and the first miles are hell. You weren’t prepared for this. That’s not your fault. People who run marathons train for months. You thought you were going to have a normal day today, and instead you’re running a marathon. There are people cheering you on in the beginning, because you have a lot of friends who said they would be there, and there they are with their posters and cups of water and everything. You’re not allowed to take breaks to walk in this marathon, you either keep going or you die.
Around mile 20, there aren’t as many friends there. They have things to do, after all, and they figure that you can handle the last 6 miles on your own. You’ve come this far, just keep going. So you get to 26.2 miles. Wow. Cool. But the finish line isn’t there. Someone forgot to tell you, there isn’t a declared finish line in this marathon. You just have to keep going until it ends one day.
So you push on, thinking, “well, it will probably end soon, I’ll just go a bit further.” But it’s hard, and you’re alone. So you yell for some of your friends to come back, and a few do. But, they can’t stay long. That’s not their fault. They can’t spend all day everyday cheering you on. “You’re in my thoughts,” they say, as they go about their normal lives with their to-do lists and their laughter.
Your whole body is numb, and every-once-in-a-while friends come with posters, “just finish the marathon,” they say, “it’s that simple, just finish it.” It’s an attempt to be supportive, but they don’t understand that you don’t get to decide when the marathon is over, you just have to keep going.
Some days you would rather die. “I can’t do this forever,” you think, “and there is no end in sight.” Other days, you feel like maybe the end is near, so you put in more effort than ever, but the finish line never shows up.
Until eventually, the finish line shows up. And you’re done, for a while. And life goes back to normal and your friends hang out with you again. But you never know when the next race is going to come.
So here’s what I suggest- get as many people on those sidelines as possible. At mile 18, tell your friends to bring their friends who you’ve never met, and tell those people that you need them even though you don’t even know them. Tell people that you need them and their groceries can wait but you need them, and you don’t know how long this will last, but ask them to stay a while. You’re not being selfish, you’re trying to stay alive.
This is kind of what depression is like for me.