Look under your bed. Are there boxes of condensed memories? An abnormally large clump of cat fur? A lonely plush toy or doll? (Cue Toy Story 2 feels). Is there too much for you to even consider? Is there anything at all?
Some of us have to relearn to be curious again. I’m one of them.
My current bed is an inflatable Coleman camping mattress, so I can’t crouch on all fours and peer into the underside darkness for boxes and missing socks and cat fur. But back when I slept in beds on bed frames and had memories and miscellaneous items to shove out of sight, I’d occasionally foray into those dusty depths and bring back certain items into the light. Abandoned art projects, birthday cards from relatives, bobby pins, cat fur, movie ticket stubs, notes from friends who were no longer friends. Sometimes I returned those things to the darkness, unsure what my stance was on their existence. Sometimes I moved them to the closet, or displayed them on my walls or my bookcase. Sometimes I threw them away.
What prompted me to look under the bed in the first place?
Chronic depression is a lonely road shrouded in fog, but rest stops glowing hazy in sunlight do pop up. Clarity returns, burning like an ancient god’s clairvoyance in my mind. Wonder returns, curiosity returns, albeit slowly. That is when I look under the bed. That is when I lapse into introspection. That is when I can shed time like a second skin and delve into rediscovery.
That curiosity doesn’t last long. I cannot look under the bed all the time. In my low moments, why bother dredging up more reminders of my existence? I strive to be a writer, but I cannot be curious and open all the time; it is not in my mind to be so. Although frustrating, I try to keep my mind invigorated by my various creative outlets, like this blog, even when no mental rest stop is in sight.
However, I do believe that in relearning to be curious again, the urge and will to create is stronger than ever. A single word or phrase can keep me occupied for an hour or more. Curiosity feels new every time I’m at a mental rest stop. Contrary to the e.e. cummings quote, I think we must be curious, must take up our creative arms and march into the unknown, if we are to even begin believing in ourselves. Yet this is not easy for people with depression. So what can we do?
If you feel your mind’s been manufactured into a stale routine, and your social media feed only fills you with sadness, look under the bed. Look in the attic. Look in the closet. Look in the basement. So what if you don’t find anything? So what if you find too much? You’re at a mental rest stop. You’re in control. It’s okay to relearn curiosity, to relearn anything to keep you going. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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