There is a beautiful breeze flicking in through my windows and the chimes are singing to me over potted sunflowers. The day is unwinding with ease and I am sewing up loose ends, reminded of past self-promises as I fill in the blanks of book journals and bedstand reviews. If I close my eyes tight enough, I can imagine that I’m someplace beautiful and that friends’ physical presences are just a short jaunt in the car away and that my throat doesn’t feel as if it’s growing a marble of bruise on the left side. Days of sleepless torment stretch behind me in wicked lengths and I’m guilty for skipping the gym this morning, but today is a good day, and I feel a small warmth in my soul that I hope will grow rather than blink out.
The thing about depression is that it’s possible to never really realize you’re in one until a day like today comes along. A day when it’s somehow easier to breathe and the loneliness can be held at bay by with a little imagination instead of pounding on your door like a SWAT team busting a meth lab. And if it’s a deep funk, one that you recognize every morning right before it throws a bag over your head and beats you with a potato in a sock, then these days are even sweeter. The black is in such sharp contrast to the bright rays of world’s possibility that you squint, almost snowblind, opening your door to the sweet air outside.
I can’t remember when this cycle started for me, but it almost always occurs during a lull, a period of thwarted forward movement. I truck along, meandering my path only to be halted by a move, a disappointment, a plan gone wickedly awry; and suddenly my world shifts, and disorientation takes a hold. Sometimes it’s only days, nothing a couple shots of whiskey and a good PeeMyPants laugh can’t cure. Mostly though, it’s a long slog…long enough that in the middle, neither the end nor the beginning are visible and IT begins to look like normal. I’ve never medicated myself, (though it has been professionally suggested on a number of occasions) so these times are hard fought with my own fists and teeth. Whether this is folly or not, I can’t say, knowing only that my experience with mood enhancers is akin to Febreezing an old couch that smells like cat piss.
The most recent fog has been the longest, blanketing my landscape on and off for over a year, bad days outnumbering the good. Managing to escape for only short stints, I’ve dwelt, instead, on the craggy surfaces mired in puttied shades of black and grey. It’s felt like a losing battle, slip-sliding out of control down and down with no way to spot a bottom. I was told once that the early to mid thirties is when dysfunctional coping mechanisms begin to crumble and their once comforting and effective presence becomes less and less so. That’s been true of my experience, but old habits die hard, and I haven’t had the chance to develop something new against the constant onslaught of storming thoughts in my head.
Because it’s been so bad, I do my best to smile into the sunshine of days like this, to remember what it’s like to enjoy a day in solitude and peace. I remember the feel of a normalized mind and the pleasing caress of possibility. Instead of looking for huge cosmic signs that I belong and am “Allright” I marvel at my tomato plants grown from seed and the stack of books yet to read. On days like today, I feel good in my skin and am thankful for my first world problems. On days like today, babies are born to endless possibility and I’m moving on the path that the Universe set out for me. On days like today, I think I’ll make it.
Tonight, I won’t get sleep, and I’ll feel bloated for missing step class. I’ll brush my teeth and worry that they’re getting more crooked by the day. My stomach will churn in anxiety over whether or not the Old Man’s contract will be renewed and if I have enough money in the bank to cover the time he spends looking for something else if it isn’t. In bed, in the silence and dark, the world will come crashing back down, it will sit on my chest and bounce the air out taunting me with what it can do. But now, right now, I feel good. The sprinklers are painting misty rainbows across the front lawn and my toenails are freshly painted and I am OKAY.