Depression · Mental health · University

Phone a friend

That unremarkable day, I woke up with a vague mist clouding my head. I knew what I needed to do: have a shower, make breakfast, pull out yesterday’s lectures to commence the task of writing them up, head to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, walk into university for the afternoon’s sessions. I twitched my arm towards my bedside table where my phone resided. Pressing the lock button, I noted the screen that flashed its bold figures at me. 06:13.

I lay in the loosely curled position with my eyes open for a while. When I heard Jess’s hurried footsteps down the stairs, I knew it must be close to half seven. She had a placement scheduled that morning in a town thirty minutes’ drive away. A fact that she never seemed to mind. The back door opened and shut and I noted that it must be later than I thought. Jess didn’t even stop to make toast.

Some time later I heard the thuds of footsteps skipping down the stairs. The unmistakeable clink of bowls, the clatter of dry cereal falling into it, and a quick slosh of milk. Having decided to go vegan as a house for Lent, I knew that the bran flakes would be swimming in soy milk. I could already hear the words Anna would say if I came to the living room where she now undoubtedly sat. “It’s not real milk! It makes my cereal taste funny.” But I stayed in my cocoon. I heard a metallic clunk as the bowl hit the sink. A key grated in the back door. The handle clicked open and a moment later the door slammed shut. I was alone.

After an indeterminate length of time lying awake, I checked my phone again. 11:04. I mildly noted the lack of time I have left to complete the list of tasks I’d set myself. And yet… And yet I couldn’t bring myself to command my leaden limbs to propel myself out of bed. I sighed and idly wondered how much I would be missing to skip class for the day. Probably unwise. I tried to compile a list of the reasons why I should get up. As each reason was evaluated, I was struck by the pointlessness of them. Eventually my thoughts just repeatedly said “why?” – to which I drew a blank.

My arm moved again, this time unlocking my phone and shooting off a quick text to my friend, Josh. His words reverberated in my head: “remember, just call me. Any time. For anything.” Well, I was going to take up on the offer.

11:16 Me: Are you busy?

11:17 Josh: No 🙂

11:17 Josh: Do you want me to call you?

No sooner had his message come through, my phone vibrated in my hand. I accepted the call. “How are you doing?” Josh’s cheerful voice sounded in my ear.

“Um… I can’t be bothered to get out of bed,” I muttered, grimacing at how silly the sentence sounded.

“Okay… Okay. Right. First of all, I understand.” Tears pricked the corners of my eyes at those words. “But we’re going to do this one step at a time, okay?”

I sighed tentatively. “Okay?”

“Right, first of all. Wait, second of all. Are you still, like, properly curled up in bed, covers, everything?” Josh said.

“Well, I’m in my duvet.” I said tonelessly.

“And you’ve taken your tablets for the day?”

“Well, I kind of need to get out of bed for that bit,” I tried at humour.

“Right… Right.” Josh thought for a moment. “Well, first of all, we need to get the covers off. Covers off, okay? On three. One, two, three!”

Against my will, I shuffled the duvet off with my feet. “It’s cold now,” I laughed.

“Oh no!” Josh chuckled with me. “Right, quick, now sit up! One, two, three!” I complied with a groan. And on it goes. Josh coaxed me to the kitchen to take the small, blue tablet with a full glass of water (I’d made that mistake before: the feeling of a hard tablet sticking to the front of your oesophagus is not something I would repeat willingly). He reminded me that I’d already done the hardest part.

“So what are you gonna do between now and uni?” asked Josh. Glancing at the clock, I decided that trying to start, and finish, writing up the pair of lectures from yesterday would be ambitious. An hour at the gym, on the other hand, wouldn’t hurt. Plus I needed the endorphins. I relayed my thought process to Josh who agreed enthusiastically.

“Yep! You got out of bed – easy! Well, not easy, but you know what I mean. You can do anything! The possibilities are endless!” I chuckled at his unrelenting cheeriness. After I thanked him and said goodbye, we hung up.

“But why?” the little voice in my head kept saying as I slowly got dressed in sports gear. To be honest, I couldn’t answer that. Why do I bother getting out of bed every day? “But I’m still going to do it anyway,” I smiled to myself as I unlocked the door to step into the new (well, new to me) day.

As I walked through the light breeze, I couldn’t help but think of the old game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and its three lifelines. 50:50. Ask the audience. Phone a friend. I chuckled as I considered the latter. It was definitely a lifeline.

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