This morning I didn’t make my bed.
That may not seem like a big deal, and it isn’t, yet it is.
In 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven made a commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin, that carried a message I try to share with everyone I know:
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
Why does that matter? According to Admiral McRaven, “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.” (Full Speech)
It’s a simple little thing, that is one task I accomplish every day.
Today my bed is currently unmade, and I’m at work. Today, I simply couldn’t.
For the last few days (weeks) I’ve been pretty deep in the depths of depression. I’m in a very dark place that I’m struggling to get out of.
Yesterday, I spent most of the day crying on and off. At one point I decided to leave work, because I didn’t consider myself fit for duty so to speak. I don’t know where I was going, maybe the beach, maybe home, maybe Abu-Dhabi…it’s hard to say, I just wanted to go. But my best friend saw me leaving work, planted herself in front of my car, and said no. That it wasn’t ok for me to be alone right then. A couple of other colleagues arrived at that same time, and I returned to my office, to a very supportive environment.
I’m beyond blessed to work where I do.
So why the depression? Well, I have a natural tendency towards it genetically, and drugs are great, but in the face of great challenges, they don’t always stop the feelers from coming on.
My mom is gone. My children are on the edge of adulthood and the world is frightening. My father had “routine” surgery that scared me to my core. I have friends who mean the world to me who are facing life changing circumstances that I’m powerless to help them with. I lost my 75-pound “puppy” a few months back. Home ownership brings new problems each day.
In sum – Life.
Life is hard.
Life will test you. Life can break you. Life can also heal you.
You see, right now I am facing a series of unfortunate events – not quite like the movie/book of the same name, but some are pretty close. So when you combine life’s situational depressive acts with a genetic tendency towards anxiety and depression, the result can be disastrous.
Like an unmade bed.
No, my unmade bed is not the end of the world, but it *is* a sign of the rough spot I’m in. It’s a canary in the coal mine. It is a cry for help for me, that I’m fortunate enough to be aware of.
So now what?
Well, in a few hours I’ll visit my therapist. Then for the rest of the day, I will take things as they come. I’m not going to hide my depression. I’m not going to pretend like everything’s ok. I’m going to share what I’m going through with the people I love – who also love me – because I know they care enough to be here for me however I need.
I’m going to be honest.
We live in a society where mental health is stigmatized, yet the vast majority of the population battles it at some point in their lives.
If you have the flu or a cold or cancer friends and family will rally and make you meals, run your errands, and be there to support you however you need. Mental health is/should be no different.
I am so thankful to have been raised in a home where mental health was treated like all other health concerns – we talked about it, we helped each other through crises, we loved and supported one another with the unseen illnesses as much as the visible ones.
Now it’s my turn.
I’m not ok – but I will be.
I’m going to be transparent about not being ok, so that the my framily (the friend/family combination that is my support) can help me get to a place of being ok.
And for that I thank them.
If you know someone who seems “off” – who has had a trauma that you know about or you suspect might be going through something, let them know you’re a safe space. Let them know you want to help. Let them know it’s ok to not be ok. They may need that reassurance more than you can imagine.