I debated about taking a shower this morning. It was a long debate. A senseless debate, really. If you haven’t taken a shower in two days, it’s probably an opportune time to take one. Remember my muscle memory post? Shouldn’t showering be a muscle reflex (if anything, a reflex from your nose when it smells your armpit)?
Well, apparently it isn’t, at least not for the jobless, the depressed, the shut-ins, those who don’t have an office to go to or a client to meet. And I know several of them right now, including myself. And for some reason, the showering really trips us up. We share in a community: the community of a lack of purpose and (sometimes) poor personal hygiene. And really, who gives a shit about soaping up your armpits when you lack big-picture meaning – a job, a vocation, a career – in your life?
As I’ve posted previously, I will soon be unemployed. The spaghetti I’m throwing at the walls – through research, writing, online job searching, networking and agreeing to whore myself out for anything that pays at least $20 an hour – is not sticking. So recently, my this-feels-fruitless-job-hunt-I will-be-living-in-a-cardboard-box-very-soon anxiety has grown into an enormous green-scaled, red-eyed monster, who hovers in my shadow during the day and hides under my bed at night. He has really sharp fingernails (talons?) and it hurts when he pokes me in the shoulder to let me know he’s still there. I’ve offered to pay for a manicure, but he’s ignored my offer. I’ve named him Puff the Magic Dragon; it makes him seem harmless…even though some days he is quite the opposite of nice.
I wonder if my depression is coming back. Slowly, in degrees. Will the shower apathy turn into sleeping until noon and not paying my bills on time? Will the exercise regiment I’m starting morph into a potato-chip-crumb-framed, ass-sized imprint on my couch? Will my recent trips and stumbles – rejections, a lot of NOs – send me falling back into the rabbit hole, never to be found?
No. No. No. In degrees, I will always deal with depression and anxiety. Some days, the degrees are so small, I don’t even notice. Other days, the shifts can be seismic. Popping a couple of psychotropic meds each day and talking to therapists every couple of weeks help. But it doesn’t cure it, because there is no cure. I am learning to accept it and to live with it, take my meds every day, and cope in healthy ways when the really big turd hits the fan, like job loss, friendship loss, loss of a loved one, loss of what I once imagined would be my future.
So, I got my ass out of bed this morning. My shower was mind-altering, almost like being high. Now I’m sitting in public, writing and searching, not only for a job but for myself. I am clean, my armpits smell like the buds on a rose bush. And in a little while, I’m driving an hour north to have lunch with a fellow shut-in, a good friend who helps me row the boat, someone so smart she shouldn’t be unemployed. Yes, we – the jobless – are a community and we need each other. And, in degrees, I have to (I must! otherwise, it’s back to the rabbit hole for me!) hope that we will find new jobs and we will move forward. Freshly showered, of course.