My dear Sweatpants & Coffee tribe,
As I write this, we’re heading into fall. I feel a change in the beat of my blood, in my mouth, in my dreams, and it matches the shortening of the days. My own solstice marks the return of my lifelong companion, depression.
The light is changing.
I know some people experience depression as a bleak nothingness. Remember that scene in The Neverending Story when Atreyu is leading his trusty horse, Artax, through the Swamp of Sadness and Artax just stops? He’s not scared. He’s not fighting. He just doesn’t move. Atreyu frantically urges Artax to keep going, begging him not to give in to the sadness. But Artax just sinks, silently, into the mud. It’s a startling realistic portrayal of clinical depression in a kids movie.
Sometimes, that’s what it’s like for me. More often, though, it’s like the 10,000 Maniacs song I played obsessively in high school. “The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey / Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again / With a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather / A quiver in my lips as if I might cry…”
But, like, a LOT more emo. No cute, peppy Natalie Merchant spinning around in a red dress with that adorable bob cut. Just me, in my crumby pajamas, crying at a computer screen that doesn’t make any sense no matter how long I stare at it, keeping an eye on the time because I have to throw on some clothes and spray dry shampoo on my unwashed hair before I go pick my kid up from school.
Considering the terrifying dumpster-fire that is the world right now, you might think this is an appropriate response to existence in 2018. But this is more than that. The curtain can drop when your life is as perfect as an artfully lit Instagram photo. Or when you’re simply surrounded by people who love and cherish you. Or when you’re in the grocery store trying to remember if you need eggs. Because clinical depression is NOT a sensible reaction to your circumstances. It’s a mental disorder that gives no fucks about what is actually happening in your life. It shows up uninvited, stays as long as it wants, and sometimes brings friends like anxiety, PTSD, and other fun party guests.
This current iteration of my depression is like being in a car that is traveling very quickly through tunnels and dense patches of forest. It’s not all dark. But there’s a lot of shadow, and it’s hard to see clearly.
You do what you can. You call your therapist. You message your friends, but not, like, the super happy ones – you want the ones who are on their own shadow-journey because you feel like they get you. Maybe you write about it (you hate how sophomoric and intense you sound, but whatever, you’ll probably burn this journal later). You clean obsessively. You do a lot of wishful Pinteresting. You take your medicine. You sleep.
The days pass, and the light keeps changing. And you try to let that be enough.
If you connect to any part of this, know that I am rolling down my window and waving.