Pulling Back The Curtains
I have these lovely black out curtains in my living room; purple, which is my favourite colour. Every morning that is good I wake up and open them right away. On bad days, they stay closed from morning til night. On certain days, I find myself opening them up only halfway or not until most of the day has past. While this may seem like a strange thing to write about, it’s actually a strong indicator of how positive or negative I feel at any given time and I use it as a tool.
It’s funny what little things you notice as you go through life with a mental illness. There are moments where my brain wants to shut down or my body feels like lead and just walking to and from the kitchen seems like a herculean effort. For the past year, with working at home due to COVID, it’s the curtains that have proved to be a sign of what’s to come on any given day. When I feel awake and strong, I love the feeling of opening them up and letting the light in. On sunny mornings, it will shine right on me as I work at my computer and fill me with warmth and positivity. I aim to have those type of days more than the bad ones.
Then there are times when I open my eyes in the morning and feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I don’t want to get out of bed. I want to curl up and go back to sleep. My mind may start talking to me in the way depression does, saying I’m not good enough, I’m ugly, I’m useless, I’m a waste of space. On those days I often choose to keep the curtains closed. It’s a sign that I want to keep the world away; that I am retreating into myself and aiming to hide from everyone and everything.
There are some bad days where I force myself to open one curtain up, just a crack, to let a bit of light in and make an attempt to enter the world. On occasion I end up shutting them again because it’s just too much, but most times I find that it starts to lift me up again and remind me that I am part of the universe and have a place in it. While I may not gain my full amount of energy on those days, I still count it as a win and allow myself to enjoy it. Little wins can be huge for those who often struggle to meet the most basic of daily demands. Sometimes just getting in the shower or brushing my hair is the victory I need to keep moving forward.
Curtains may seem like a strange metaphor for mental illness, however I’ve learned over the years to be mindful of even the smallest of actions that can help me with the self-awareness required to manage my illness. I need to catch things before they become a much larger issue and take the steps necessary to “flip the script” so I don’t end up in a dark and dangerous place. If being aware of the patterns in the opening and closing of my curtains can be helpful, I’ll take it!