Warming, cozy, bright leaves against rain-darkened pavement. Day of the Dead, Feast of All Souls, the falling leaves signaling the coming of cold and barrenness. This is not a new reflection, nor are the words ideal or particularly well-chosen.
I feel—as I have for a year now—on the brink of something. As if something new and better and brighter is just on the other side of this. There is a precipice, and I am standing at the edge feeling the wind whip my hair about my face, frenzied, holding everything inside of it: promise, fear, death, life, success, failure, love, loss.
All I have to do is take the step forward.
Here’s the trouble: I don’t know what that step is. I’ve taken many steps this year, from quitting my jobs to opening an Etsy shop to starting and ending a relationship. I have, without a doubt, learned from all of these things. None of these steps were wrong, by any means. Aside from learning from them, they were exactly what I needed to do to become who I am fighting to be.
My depression has resurfaced—with a vengeance.
The upcoming dark season has me shivering, terrified and clinging to what remains of the sun. How will I make it through the winter? It’s easy, I tell myself: get out of the house more, go to museums and walk by the river and make your friends your priority.
Do instead of think.
Which is akin to telling me to breathe water instead of air. I’m getting better, of course, with 29 years of life experience under my belt, I’m learning that yes, my instinct is absolutely right the vast majority of the time and my feelings are entirely valid.
I ache for companionship.
That, I believe, is the root of much of my fear. I am afraid that my situation and my son and my fierce passion and my life’s work are frightening for a man to join himself to. I am afraid that my time is growing short and that the idea of me is more attractive than the reality of me.
I am afraid that I will not find enough work to sustain my soul, that I will fail the largest failure of all, have to move back home, and will, quite honestly, not survive.
I’m afraid because the idea of somehow contracting a deadly disease and having only months to live seems like the easy way out of this.
I will not pretend that there is a lesson here, that there is another “but” that will make you feel rosy and inspired and cozy enough to go back to whatever you were doing before you read this. Because some days I don’t know if there is.
Some days, I get out of bed only because my son needs to be fed and walked to school. Some days, I feel amazing and that my life is full of blessings. It varies.
My heart feels as though it is fighting to get out of the cage that is my chest. It beats louder and harder and faster and will beat itself to a bloody death if I don’t relieve it. The only time I really feel calm and safe is when I am creating; when I am acting, painting, making something beautiful and useful and worthy.
There has always been too much inside of me. I have to let it out, or it will be the death of me.
So I surround myself with projects. I make jewelry and scarves and sell them in my online shop. I write and bake and catch up on a lifetime of missed television shows on Netflix. I’m starting a project with some friends that is fulfilling and exciting and might just be the better and brighter on the other side of this.
I’m slowly taking that step forward, towards rather than away from the light.
Autumn is a dangerous season.
Then there is the barren stretch of winter, with cold and wind that cuts to the bone and the strangling stuffiness of a house shut up too long. It is a daily struggle each morning to say, “This day, I will list the things I am grateful for. I will list what I have contributed, I will list what is beautiful and worthy and full of love. I will breathe it all in and love it all out, each hour, each minute if need be.” And then do it.
The struggle is, as always, in the doing, not the thinking.
This is not a fight I am in alone.
Those of us who live with depression or melancholy do not ask for pity, in fact we dislike it and wish only for light and love. We wish for comfort without obligation, companionship without need, warmth without suffocation. It’s a lot. Our standards are high.
Settling will not help us climb out of this hole we seem to hide in; it will simply hand us a shovel and watch us dig ourselves to death. We cannot allow that to happen. We must keep moving forward, towards that precipice where the wind is relentless and carries everything inside of it.
Autumn, quickly spiraling to winter.
Let us be gentle with one another, let us bring comfort and warmth and love to the world around us as we hunker down for the dark times. The darkness may be long and cold, but there is a fire in our hearts. And we will not allow it to go out.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Katie Frank
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: きうこ / Flickr