Apparently that was a step too far, Blue.
I really messed up today. Pretty much every single one of the self-care basics I screwed up. I forgot to eat until 2:30 in the afternoon, and only did so because I was getting dizzy and couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t drink nearly enough liquids, despite being sick and hacking up a lung. I didn’t take a shower or get dressed.
By the end of the day, the negative voices had started in earnest. “You’re a failure. Nobody F***ing cares, Robin. Why do you even try? You’re wasting everyone’s time. You’re just noise. It’ll never go anywhere. Your work doesn’t matter to anyone. You’ve screwed everything up. Everyone was counting on you and you made the wrong calls.”
I couldn’t understand why they were so loud. I was in a fog a good part of the afternoon. Then it hit me. I hadn’t taken care of myself at all, all day. No wonder they were so loud. I had absolutely no energy reserves available to keep them at their usual dull roar.
“Oh Pickles,” I said. “It’s okay. We’ll do better tomorrow.”
Who is Pickles? Well, a while back Dave Kellett did a series of strips starring a small purple bird named Pickles in his comic Sheldon. Pickles is trusted with a series of tasks, yet inevitably screws them up. He wasn’t cemented in my heart until the space strip. As I scrolled down, I knew that somehow, this error would be Pickles’ fault. “God d**n it, Pickles,” I said, about halfway down. I felt genuinely frustrated. Then I got to the bottom, and unbidden wailed “Oh NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Seeing poor Pickles’ face, I couldn’t stand to be mad at him anymore.
I found myself thinking a lot about Pickles for the next several days. I was going through another depressive low, and it was lasting a while. I’d already been in it for probably a month. One day I woke up, and I just felt like a worthless screw-up from the moment I opened my eyes. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet, but I felt like there was no point to even bothering. “God d**n it, Pickles,” slipped out of my mouth. It wasn’t said angrily, but instead, with an odd sort of fondness. That Pickles. Always trying, never succeeding. There was something sad about that, but also wonderful.
I got out of bed. I kept trying
That day I drew this.
I sent the image off on Twitter. Dave RT’d it, and I discovered that there were a LOT of us that felt the same way about Pickles.
One of the most frustrating parts of depression is that the things it makes me screw up seem like the most basic. What living being messes up eating, drinking water, and sleeping? Those are the prerequisites to life, right? One step down and I’d forget how to breathe. Yet those tasks can seem so impossible when I’m depressed. I have so little energy that even making the decision as to WHAT to eat, let alone assembling those components in order for me to eat them, feels just impossible.
I, like Pickles, can’t seem to get it together. I’ve got ONE JOB and I just can’t seem to DO it.
It’s easy to be mad at myself for it, but being mad doesn’t help. I don’t become more empowered to act by despising my inability to function. It just adds more guilt and self-loathing to a bucket that’s already over-flowing with those things. The best I can do is try to encourage myself. Walk myself through it. Forgive myself for failing today. Resolve to do better in the future.
It’s okay, Pickles. We’ll do better tomorrow.
Do you have an inner Pickles? What do you wish you could say to your well-meaning feathered companion when they fail?
We’ve also been getting some questions about the campaign – specifically how contributions will be used, and if contributors will get rewards even if the campaign doesn’t fully fund – which we answered here:
If anybody has additional questions, just write or comment!