I Do Have A Life, I Just Don't Have The Energy To Live It

Burnout is nature’s way of telling you, you’ve been going through the motions your soul has departed; you’re a zombie, a member of the walking dead, a sleepwalker. False optimism is like administrating stimulants to an exhausted nervous system.
— Sam Keen, Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man

Mental illness takes its toll on everything. Every bit of your life changes as it slowly consumes you, and you don’t even realize it until it’s too late. It’s one of the more frustrating aspects of the illness.

Josh told me and one of our counselors “You don’t have any hobbies, we can’t do anything together.” This was despite the fact that we had enjoyed doing a lot of things together.

I do in fact have hobbies. One hobby that I enjoy is hiking. The one summer I discovered a local hiking spot and spent the entire season exploring miles of trails. I had a blast! The fresh air and wide open space was fantastic! The sunburns weren’t quite as fun, but that’s the price I pay for my stupidity (seriously, wear sunblock). Josh and I explored the trails, and I loved showing him all of my favorite spots to sit and rest. It was a hobby I was willing to share.

Another hobby of mine that I discovered after being hounded by the doctors and therapists to do more was photography. I remembering going on the search for my first 35mm camera, and it quickly became an obsession after that. Buying new cameras, getting the film developed and looking at how I was progressing in the hobby. I don’t even know how many old cameras I have now, they’re kind of all over the place. Again, Josh showed interest in it and I was willing to teach him everything I knew, but it never came to that.

Video games, movies, just exploring randomly. These are all things that I once got so much joy out of, unfortunately, I haven’t done any of them in a while.

That’s the thing about depression and anxiety, it slowly creeps up on you. If it was sudden, I just woke up one morning in a full-blown depressed state, I could see it. I could fight it better, but that’s not how it works. It slowly chips away at your life until one day you wake up and reality smacks you in the face. One day you wake up and realize that you haven’t been living the life that you’ve wanted.

Instead, your living this life where daily battles with yourself replace the things that you love. The depression has slowly replaced everything you once held close.

Instead of getting the nudge to re-explore my hobbies, I was given this feeling that I just don’t do anything. This feeling just further advances the depression, making the hobbies and things I love that much harder to re-obtain. It’s a smack in the face to the person I once was. It’s saying all I am is my depression. It’s saying I am defined by my depression and anxiety. Instead of a helping hand, I was pushed further into that black hole.

I refuse to accept that. The person I once was, the hobbies I use to enjoy are still there. I’m not lost forever, I just need help getting back up. I need love, care, and compassion, not criticism. I don’t need someone to point out my flaws, I need someone who will catch me as I fall. That’s what friends do.

My challenge to you today, get up and re-explore that hobby. Rediscover something you once loved. I know, it’s hard. It can feel impossible, but I know deep down that strength is there just waiting to shine. I know it’s in you. I know you can feel it, that itch to do what you once loved, so do it.