Warning: adult language below!
The other day, you sidled in.
It’s one of my least favorite things about you, the way you can glide in without warning.
There were few signs that you were coming; no tragedy had just occurred, no big challenges overwhelming me. But I felt my energy slip away. It was like I was shrouded from my life, an unhappy observer.
You showed up on Thanksgiving, and I watched as my husband cooked up his first Thanksgiving dinner while my kids and my parents sat on the living room floor playing go-fish. The air smelled like warm bread and thyme. Surrounded by the people I love the most, I tried to soak up the gratitude of the day.
But it all felt just out of reach.
Maybe it’s just the holiday blues, I thought. Maybe a good night’s sleep will push this feeling away.
But you were there the next morning waiting for me like a hot-breathed dog, greeting me the moment I opened my eyes.
I started to panic.
What if you rooted in and stayed? What if this time is the time I can’t shake you off? You make me lose my logic, make me forget that everything in life shifts.
You whispered that life is shitty. That too many terrible things happen all the time, and we all get old and die anyways, and it’s all just unbearable. You slide a pair of glasses over my eyes, and everything darkens, dampens. You blot out hope and light. You tell me I’m not good enough, and with my senses dulled, my mind blurry, your voice louder and louder—I begin to believe it.
That afternoon, I got myself to yoga class though all I wanted was to nest in my bed, alone. I knew that’s what you wanted, to have me all to yourself, to hiss your lies in a voice that sounds like my own. But standing and sweating, bowing and stretching, you began to slink away.
You want me still and stuck, not slick and prayerful.
Partway through the class, I remembered the time in another yoga class, when I was struck suddenly with the ability to see myself the way I see my children—as a creature of the Universe, worthy, precious, unique—and enough, simply by virtue of existing. It was like I’d been dipped in sunlight, and I laid there, cradled and fresh.
In the car on the way home, as the November air stole my sweat, I was surprised to feel anger blooming in my chest. Usually when you visit, I feel selfish, shrunken, sallow. The very presence of you means my thoughts are infected, and I get pissed at myself.
Not pissed at you.
I said, quietly at first, and self-conscious, “Fuck you, depression.”
Fuck you with your lies and distortions. Fuck you for blindfolding me against the light and love of my family. Fuck you for trying to convince me I’m not good enough, that life is too hard and too shitty.
And damned if it didn’t work.
I can’t say you left so quickly because of my vigilance, because you are sneakier than that. You are in my DNA. And you linger in the bittersweetness of the holiday season, a handful of hard days waiting to turn into something worse. So your antidote is just as slippery. Sometimes it’s a change in meds, sometimes, like the other day, exercise helps me turn the corner.
I don’t know why I shook you off so easily this time, but I’m grateful it did.
Fuck you for seeing only what’s wrong, when there’s so very, very much right.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Flickr/Patrick Humphries