My eyes are drying up again, after a few weeks of a precious reprieve from the drought. This could not happen at a worse time, when a little stinging of tears are a much sought-after conclusion.
I admit it; I am sad. Not because of the eyes, but perhaps they are just another tick on the list of a lot things that have been happening to build up to this realization that this has been a very, very long bout this time.
Since about the end of last June, I have been caught up in a deep struggle. I know; that statement coming from a clinically depressed individual in the depths of an especially temperamental winter is probably not so shocking. It doesn’t invite alarmed inquiries of “What’s wrong?” and “Are you okay?” Indeed, it more than likely triggers responses akin to The Boy Who Cried Wolf; exasperated “Oh, here we go with this again.” That’s why I hesitate, most of the time, at giving my feelings a voice. I know that when I became fully engaged in writing this blog, I promised to bring my mental illness out of the darkness, where it had been consigned. I promised to be open and brutally prescient in my observations and to fully welcome anyone who has ever felt the things I do or who is struggling. Those things are still true, and always will be. As I have found my voice, and discovered my satiral point-of-view as a wife, mother, sister, and fellow human being in a world gone mad, I’ve attempted to focus on lighter subjects. After all, we are all in need of a release, a belly laugh, or even a rueful, “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel” moment.
The fact that there is really no one thing making me sad is frustrating, and quite beside the point. It doesn’t chase away the sadness. And I realized, this morning, that I have simply been trying much too hard to chase away the doldrums. Saying you’re going to focus on the positive is much harder to do when your brain just isn’t wired that way. It doesn’t matter how many pills you take or how much vitamin D you attempt to soak up or how many therapy sessions you complete; there are moments, days, indeed weeks awash in sadness, weighed down in sorrowful drudgery. It’s the exact opposite of rose-colored glasses. When you have depression, you see through varying shades of gray, sometimes foggy, and usually smudged glasses. At the very least, it’s like having a scratch on your lense that constantly reminds you that you’ve got a scratch on your lense. All the washing in the world won’t make it disappear. It’s there, reminding you. The thing about that analogy, though, is that you can always get new glasses. With depression, the best that you can do is to find the little moments, the slivers of light, the happy thoughts, that keep you from actually following through with the idea that blowing your fucking head off is the solution to it all.
I don’t feel like blowing my head off, no. Yet, I am still sad. And I am tired of being sad, because being sad makes me tired. It’s a vicious circle of darkness. When my first thought, upon waking, is “Who the hell turned on all that goddamned light?” I know that the day is going to be a struggle. When my stomach churns angrily at the idea of having to be a human all fucking day instead of just a lump of living flesh, I know this is my chemical imbalance, starting its shit again. When I both crave/abhor the idea of being alone, it’s “one of those days.”
I’m so over it, you know?
This is what I think. I think that the world has gone stark-raving mad around us, and that it contributes to the overall feeling of sadness that we experience. Every day, there’s a new tragedy, a new scandal, a new drama. We can certainly try to avoid being caught up in the huge miasma o’ shit that this world tries to drown us in, but that requires both a bunker with no technology other than maybe an MP3 player and the ability to be an eternal optimist. I’m just going to be honest: I can do neither of these things. Cut off tv, radio, internet? Sure; I can take a break. Inevitably, I get bored, or curious, and I return to binge-watching 13 episodes of the latest “thing” on Netflix or whiling away a whole afternoon catching up on the lives of my friends on social media. Before I know it, I’m deep in the technology quagmire again, watching and reading the news and feeling angry and hostile and outraged and wanting to do something to effect a change or, at the very minimum, make my voice heard.
The problem is that this is when the sadness enters, as it inevitably does when I think too much. It sneaks in, quietly, stealing away the moments of perfection when I am listening to a miraculous song like this gorgeous piece of perfection or reading a really great story. It wraps its talons around the edges of my consciousness and digs in just a little bit during occasions when I’m enjoying a silly conversation via text with my granddaughter, or having deeply engaging talks with my son. It whispers, low and with a touch of regret, that these moments are fleeting, and that happiness never lasts. That gets my brain going and then I think about getting older and about how life just goes on and that someday I will be dead and it will march on anyway with nary a look back.
This is when depression sees its opportunity. This is when it pounces. Depression lies, yes. It steals. It cheats. It does all the shitty things and it never blinks. It is always looking for an in and, by God, it will find one sooner or later.
It’s found its way in again. It doesn’t matter if I insist that my life is mostly good, that I am fortunate, and that I have so many reasons to be thankful. All of this is true, and yet there it is. That scratch on my lense. And unlike glasses, I only get one life. At this moment, depression has linked arms with menopause and they are skipping gaily throughout my body and mind, making messes and tipping over things and creating a general sense of chaos within. I know it will recede, if only for a while. I am grateful for the self-awareness that happens because I take a concoction of pills that counteract the chaos and enable me to see that this too shall pass. But the sadness makes me wish that I could cry. Oh, the absolute emotional release that a noisy, sloppy, agonizing cry gives! Snot running, ugly sounds, stuffed-up nose, thought-you-were-done-but-here-you-go-again sobbing. It’s cleansing and relief-giving and absolutely the exact thing I need right now. Problem is, those pills I take shut that shit down. While everyone else is crying their eyes out during every episode of This Is Us, I’m high and dry. I’d love to cry over Jack Pearson. I just can’t. I saw a gut-wrenching clip of a family having to say goodbye to a cherished pet this morning. Everyone was in tears, wailing. The fucking veterinarian was crying. I was close, I’ll admit. I felt absolutely bereft for those people. Witnessing a lovely dog take its last breath in the arms of its human mother should have reduced me to a pile of soggy kleenex because I’ve been there. But then someone put the cork in and I was left feeling like I was going to sneeze, but the sneeze was suddenly gone.
It is like that every day. And I am tired of pretending that it’s okay, that it will get better, and that I’m a strong woman who will triumph. Maybe I will, but for fuck’s sake, can’t a bitch earn an ugly cry now and then?
Guess not. I’ll keep trying though, and the idea that you should not wish too hard for something, because you might just get it, seems worth risking, if only for that momentary feeling of having gotten it all off my chest. I’m not looking for pain or catastrophy; just a nice, hormonal release.