When All You Can Do Is Crawl

Photo credit: Das Sasha

I hate that I don’t always have the all the energy in the world to do all the things I want to do, but when the depression phase of my bipolar disorder raises its ugly hand and drags me deep into its murky depths, it also sucks the life energy right out of me. Sometimes it’s a struggle even just to sit up straight.

The bad days can be pretty debilitating. On the not so bad days, I crawl. Metaphorically. Well, mostly. Instead of excelling, launching, striding, surging, flying, like I love to, I drag myself through the day like some kind of zombie swamp creature. I used to hate myself for crawling. Hated that I wasn’t flying. And then I saw something beautiful …

‘If all you can do is crawl, start crawling.’ The relief I felt when my eyes flitted across Rumi’s words was immediate. Lately I hadn’t been what I wanted to be as a writer. I hadn’t been what I wanted to be as a lover. As a daughter, sister, friend. As any of the roles I play in my life. And you know what? That’s actually okay.

Those beautiful, gentle words reminded me that we are all human. Bipolar or not. They reminded me that we can’t always be everything to everyone. We can’t always be rushing towards our dreams and our goals and our lofty ambitions. We can’t always be pushing to be more. We can’t always be the best. On top form, feeling like we’ve climbed the mountain.

Those words reminded me that even when we’re crawling, we’re still moving forward. That sometimes (oftentimes), we actually have to stand still, and be in the moment, and look around us and acknowledge who we are and how far we’ve already come. Maybe in the crawling, in the slowing down, we have time to appreciate, deeply, all those things we have to be grateful for.

But mostly, it’s about not fighting our natural rhythms and cycles. We accept the ebb and flow in nature, in the tides of the ocean, the phases of the moon, the change of seasons. We even celebrate them. Why not in our own bodies? Why do we think we need to be machines?

Grit, endurance, tenacity … it’s the stuff we value, the stuff of Hollywood films. But if we’re battling an unexplained, persistent, relapsing exhaustion, when we know there’s something wrong, let’s see the doctor, and let’s be kind to ourselves no matter what the diagnosis. If we’re in the midst of a depression and we know exactly why we’re not on top of our game, let’s still be kind to ourselves. And if we’re exhausted because that’s just what happens to human beings every now and then … yeah, let’s still be kind to ourselves.

Let’s graciously allow ourselves the space to crawl when that’s all we can do, the space to be still when that’s what we need, let’s give ourselves the same kind of unconditional permission to rest as we do to push our boundaries. So even if it’s not the stuff Hollywood films are made of, when all you can do is crawl, start crawling, and be totally okay with that.

If this is your first depression …