I have only ever seen Finding Nemo once, and it was a long, long time ago. I may even have been drunk when I saw it – it did come out during my first year at uni, when I was obviously drunk most of the time – but I can’t quite remember. In fact, all I really remember from it is Dory, and her “just keep swimming”. At the time, it annoyed the crap out of me. But of late, it seems to have become my motto.
Because depression made me stop swimming. It made me stop doing anything; I was just about capable of waking up, but anything beyond that was a bit of a challenge. I had no desire to do anything at all. I just wanted to lie in a darkened room and wait for the world to sod right off.
Alas, it turns out that this is not a reasonable strategy for dealing with depression. What you actually need to do, it seems, is make like Dory and just keep swimming. Just get up, and have a shower, and put some clothes on. And make a cup of tea, and some breakfast, and just carry on. It’s a total arse, but it’s what you need to do. Because apparently, lying down won’t help anything.
And so, I got out of bed and grudgingly started swimming again. I made a post-it map of all the little tasks I could do each day – everything from painting my nails to actually going swimming – and I stuck it to the wall behind my sofa. And every morning, I look at it and I sigh deeply and then I look at it again, and start moving the post-its around until I have a plan for my day. Today’s post its say “do some writing”, “meet someone for lunch” and “do some washing”. It’s odd dividing my life up into little chunks of post-it time, but it seems to work.
For it turns out that keeping on swimming is better than sitting around sobbing. Even on the dark, dark days I can still look at my list and go “well, I did a load of washing today, and that’s something”. It’s more productive than spending all day in bed watching Gilmore Girls – especially as I’d manage to make myself sick of Gilmore by just watching too much. It’s a way of making my way back into the world one little bit at a time.
Unfortunately though, I have in the process managed to completely destroy Finding Nemo for myself. But then I never cared about it enough to watch it a second time, so in the grand scheme of things I’m sure I can cope with the loss.