Depression and Dinner with John Mayer
Depressive Symptoms and Dinner with John Mayer
It’s 6pm and sitting at my kitchen counter I gently close my computer and say to myself, “That’s a wrap!” I had just finished my last therapy session of the day, was feeling satisfied with patient interactions and after seven zoom sessions was quite exhausted and hungry. In order to separate my work space from the “dinner table,” i.e. my apartment kitchen counter, I move my computer to a nearby pouf. This is the “new normal.” It’s March, 2020, and I have been quarantined for several weeks in my apartment…alone due to being single. I look around and it’s silent. Again. Nobody there to tell me, “It’s going to be ok.” Nobody there to share a simple meal with. My apartment, cute and bright, suddenly feels small, isolating and dark.
My thoughts start to race. I feel little motivation to cook a meal; what for? Who would even know or care if I ate a frozen burrito or peanut butter and jelly sandwich? In fact, I can hear my heart beating, it’s so quiet. My “thoughts” pop up, one after another. I say to myself, “You are the therapist, buck up and get yourself together, woman!” Then another thought. Will I be alone forever? Does anyone care I am here alone? One after another, the debilitating thoughts surface and I look frantically around my quiet nest I call “home.” This isn’t home! This is prison! I burst into tears.
Symptoms of depression can include but are not limited to feelings of hopelessness, self-blame, irritability, sleep interruptions, lack of motivation, decrease in energy, change in eating habits and excessive sleeping and isolation. Depressive symptoms and depression in general do not discriminate.
According to the Eisenberg Family Depression Center at the University of Michigan, 1 out of 5 women suffer from depression and 1 out of 10 men suffer from depression. Many people across the world, found themselves isolated alone during the pandemic. Families also struggled. According to the CDC, in June 2020, “40% of adults reported suffering from depression and/or substance abuse issues.” Symptoms of depression and anxiety may stick around long after the pandemic is under control. However, depression can be successfully treated with medication, therapy or both.
A few places to start:
1. Take a baby steps. The simplest task like taking a shower can seem daunting. Leave the bed, take the shower and put on some clean clothes. This is an example of how a small step can set you on what I call, a “self-care” track.
2. Turn on some music, change your environment, even if it is just leaving your bedroom for the living room.
3. Create routine; I cannot emphasize this enough.
4. Journal. Write down any negative thoughts and then on the opposite page try to write “facts versus fiction.” For example, will I really be alone forever? Am I fortune teller for the future?
5. Simply cry and then allow yourself to “make a move.” For example; take a shower, put on some music, call or text a friend or family member, go for a walk, sit in the bath, light a candle.
6. Do some homework and refrain from self-judgement. Seek treatment because normalizing your emotions and feelings can be tough. There are free “tools and starting points” online. For example, The University of Michigan Depression Center has a free “tool kit” at https://www.depressioncenter.org/depression-toolkit.
7. If you are feeling suicidal please contact 911 or The National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.
That evening, in my kitchen after a good cry, I cleared my eyes and took in the sites around me. The comfy sofa I picked out, the calming art on the wall, the homemade candle a friend gave me on the window sill and my favorite cozy blanket draped over my pouf. I thought about all of the clients I met with that day and the progress they had made. I am not a fortune teller and 6 months from now things always tend to look differently. I got up, took out my favorite frozen veggies, whipped up a simple stir fry and decided to have dinner with John Mayer. I pressed play on my Bose speaker and his voice echoed throughout the room as I took a bite of my simple but delicious homemade meal. With John’s voice cooing in the background, I reached over and texted a friend. I simply wrote, “Hey, I am having dinner with John Mayer and still feeling a bit lonely. Have a minute?” I still felt a bit lonely but a smile slowly creeped across my face and I whispered, “You got this.”