I have a little bit of a celebrity crush on Anna Kendrick. She has that girl next door charm, and tremendous talent as a singer and actress (although Pitch Perfect 3 was a disappointment, but I digress). Among her notable works is The Last Five Years, a story of the relationship between her character, Cathy, and Jaime who is played by Jeremy Jordan. The story is notable because it is told from both perspectives, with Cathy’s story going forward chronologically while Jaime’s works backwards. This means that musically, they are only in the same point and time during one song, in the middle of the movie, a song called “The Next Ten Minutes,” which is want I want to talk about today.
In the song, Jaime sings the line, “would you share your life with me for the next ten minutes, for the next ten minutes?” Then later he follows it up with, “and if we make it till then, can I ask you again, for another ten?” It is cute and romantic, and something I am trying to work into my toolbox for dealing with my mental illness.
You see, one of the nasty little tricks that the demons of depression play on me is that they convince me that I am unlovable. They make it difficult to love myself and impossible to feel like anyone else loves me. I know that my family loves me, and that has in fact made a huge difference in the way my story has progressed, but I often can’t feel it.
And this feeds into the belief that I am nothing but a burden. And before you know it, my anxiety is running away with the thought that everyone will leave me at the first sign of trouble. I get panicky and defensive, and it is about as much fun for everyone as a trip to the DMV.
But people don’t leave. People stay. But that doesn’t change the lies that are so convincingly whispered to me by my mental illnesses. And so, my new approach is to ground myself by just focusing on the next ten minutes. Surely no one is leaving in the next ten minutes. And if I make it ten minutes, then I can focus on the next ten minutes, and then the ten minutes after that, and so on and so forth, until I get to Cathy’s part in the duet, where she asks about the next ten lifetimes.
Depression is a beast, a terrible monster, a demon that wants to destroy you by robbing you of your joy, of your love for yourself and other’s love for you. And when it tag teams with the mischievous monster that is generalized anxiety disorder it is even worse. And if you try to tackle them all at once it can be overwhelming and demoralizing, which is why it is so important to break it down to manageable battles, grounding yourself in the moment with whatever tools you have available. Some people start listing things they see around them, some people count cracks in the sidewalk, and for now, I am focused on the next ten minutes.
Because I have made it this far. Depression hasn’t destroyed me yet. And if I’ve made it this far, I am sure that I can make it another ten minutes.
And if you are struggling, if you are teetering on the edge, so close to being pulled down by your demons, then can I ask you again, for another ten? Because I promise that despite what your demons say, the next ten minutes, and the ten minutes after that, and so on and so forth, well they are better with you here.