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Small Steps: My Story of Depression Recovery

I wake up with the feeling that my head is full of cotton wool. At least, that’s how I describe it. It’s hard to put the feeling into words. Thoughts seem sluggish and disoriented.

“You need to get out of bed,” a quiet voice whispers.

I glance at the clock. It’s 11 am and well past the point of social acceptability. I don’t want to get out of bed. It’s warm and I’m so, so tired. My brain is half-remembering the dream I’ve just woken up from and it’s taking longer to distinguish reality from the nightmares. Minutes pass before I remember that I’m supposed to be recovering. I’m past the point of lying in bed all day. I get up.

The next step is to have a shower. I think I forgot to have one yesterday, so I really should today. “Why bother?” my brain asks. “We’re not seeing anyone or going anywhere.” I really don’t have the energy to shower or dress myself, but I’m supposed to be recovering. I drag myself into the shower and then get dressed.

I think I’m hungry. When was the last time I ate? I should have breakfast, but by now it’s well past noon. Lunch, then. I don’t have the energy to cook anything, and I don’t feel hungry. Do I even need to eat? I could drag myself to the nearest fast food joint and eat something greasy and unhealthy like always. But I’m supposed to be recovering, so I make myself some toast.

I nearly forgot my meds! The daily medicine is a part of my recovery. They cause me to have nightmares and I don’t sleep well. They mess with my system and have loads of side effects. When I first took them, I was constantly nauseous for a month. But they made me feel numb and they quieted that little voice. The doctor says I should come off them soon, as I am supposed to be recovering.

What now? I could curl up and watch a film. I could go grocery shopping or go for a run. There’s a constant, nagging feeling that I’m supposed to be accomplishing something. Most people are at work now, contributing to the world and achieving their dreams. What did the therapist say? Small steps. Last Christmas my parents gifted me an exercise bike, the sort you set up in the living room then ignore forever. I sit on it for five minutes, half-heartedly turning the pedals. I’m supposed to be recovering, and it’s better than nothing.

My flat is a mess. I haven’t done the washing up, and the clothes have been drying for a week. I should put them away and run the Hoover around. It’s all exhausting though, and I’m tired again. I could take a nap. I want so badly to get back in bed. But I’m supposed to be recovering, so I’ll wash the dishes. There. I’ve achieved something today.

There’s the sound of keys in the door. My partner’s home. He asks about my day and I tell him. He tells me about his. He’s proud that I’ve achieved something today. I want so badly for him to shout, so I have an excuse to cry and go back to bed. But he’s sincere. He’s proud. “Small steps,” he keeps saying. Small steps.

He cooks dinner and leaves the washing up. I’ll do it tomorrow, I promise myself. We watch a movie and chat. We waste the evening and it’s bedtime. He falls asleep, and I stay awake. Midnight comes and goes. By early morning I finally drift off. I don’t even stir when he rises for work.

I wake up with the feeling that my head is full of cotton wool.

Small steps. I’m slowly recovering.




Author Bio: Lucy is a twenty-something aspiring writer based in the UK. A science graduate, self-proclaimed nerd and avid feminist, you can contact her at lucysaunders.217@gmail.com.


Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.

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2 thoughts on “Small Steps: My Story of Depression Recovery

  1. Fafster says:

    Great article. Thank you for sharing this. I can so relate to this after being in a depressive relapse for several months. I think I’m almost at this exact stage when I feel like I should probably try and clean my living space, wash my sneakers so I can take walks and get in touch with people again. It’s a painful experience to wonder what happened to my old lively nd active self with goals and hope for the future. I’ve been thinking for days of a list of baby steps I can take in my recovery. Getting the list on paper is the first big step. I’m just sick of being sick and not caring or being hopeful enough to try and make the practical efforts and self care. I know it’s time and I can’t just rely on meds and counseling. There are action steps I need to walk in towards a new life

  2. Danielle Leblanc, RtoR.Org Resource Specialist says:

    Hi Fafster,

    Thank you for reading our blog post and sharing your thoughts. I agree getting it on paper is the first big step towards putting goals into action. Remember, small steps will make a big positive impact on your recovery. If you are currently not in therapy, I would be glad to assist with providing some resources. You can send us an email at help@rtor.org or click this link to Contact a Resource Specialist

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