Yeats, Sunlight, and Big Apple Red

[Originally published on my other blog on June 1, 2015.]

Last week was bad. Really bad. My depression monster would not shut up, and I was basically white-knuckling it the whole time while I waited for my meds to kick in. I slept a ton, I cried a ton, and I thought about dying a ton. At work on Thursday morning I was thinking such dark thoughts that I made a pact with myself that if I still felt that bad when I got home, I would call my therapist and have her meet me at the ER (which is the plan she and I have discussed and agreed to). I didn’t feel safe with myself. Have you ever felt that way? It’s the strangest sensation. I had sunk down in to the deepest part of depression where you don’t feel much of anything. You aren’t sad, you aren’t angry, you aren’t really anything. You’re just numb, and that, for me, is the nightmarish point where it’s possible to hear my own brain telling me that dying is a completely reasonable option. In fact, maybe it’s the only one. The weirdest thing about it is I can think those thoughts in one part of my mind, but another part is saying, “GIRL. NOT COOL. Look at what your brains are doing. This is not okay and you are not safe and you have to do something.” That voice is not as loud as the depression monster’s, but it speaks with a gravity that I haven’t yet been able to ignore. And this time, that voice worked really hard. That voice busted its ass. That voice said, “Listen. You are a person who thinks the world is so beautiful that it hurts sometimes. Sometimes you cry because the universe is so amazing that you’re overcome with gratitude that you get to be here to see it and be a part of it. That girl, the one who gets goosebumps every time she hears ‘What a Wonderful World’ and could write ten pages about how nice it is to hold hands with someone, is still in here somewhere, and she wants to live. That girl doesn’t think everything is awful and pointless. She sees bad things sometimes, but she does her best to do something about them. That girl gives freely of her time and money and inner resources to stand up for what is right and support people who are in a time of fear and uncertainty and great need. That girl has more work to do. She’s not done. She wants to read more books and hear more music and look into more people’s eyes. She wants to get more tattoos and sing more ridiculous songs to her cats. She wants to drink champagne and learn how to crotchet and watch her niece and nephew grow up. SO, that voice says, you need to tell the depression monster to sit down and shut up.

I had a major shift in the afternoon and was actually feeling fairly okay later on in the day. I came home and had dinner and relaxed and didn’t cry and went to bed. I had a nice restful weekend (cannot stop sleeping, could sleep for a year if you let me) and got out of bed this morning feeling decent. (I know these adjectives are underwhelming, but it’s important to remember that after spending two weeks in a waking nightmare, “fairly okay” is something to celebrate.) My new dosage of meds has me feeling kind of puke-y most of the time, but I had a reasonable amount of energy all day, felt pretty steady while dealing with some stress, laughed with my coworkers and caught a few glimpses of my normal fun self. I decided to try to keep up that momentum and made myself an appointment for a mani-pedi after work. I had some time to kill before my appointment, so I stopped by the used bookstore near the salon. I spent half an hour drifting around and filling my arms with books. I picked up an old copy of The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, started to put it back, then opened it and took a deep breath. It smelled so good that I instantly smiled, and I thought, “There’s one. There’s a thing I would be so sad if I never got to do it again.” I paid for my books and wandered out into the street, where the sun was getting low and casting a really lovely golden light over everything, and I thought, “There’s another.” A couple of hours later, I looked down at my shiny, cherry-red (“Big Apple Red,” to be exact) toes and fingers and thought, “And another.”I have to remember these things, and I will. As long as there’s still a part of me that the depression monster can’t get to, the part that thinks the world is terrible and beautiful all at once and that’s why it’s such a mind-boggling place to be, the part that likes being mind-boggled, the part that will never get tired of saying, “Well isn’t this nice?”…as long as that part is still there, I will remember the reasons why I want to be here, why I love being here. And I think that part willalways be there. Parts of my brain are sick, or have faulty wiring, or however you want to describe it…but other parts, really important parts, are just fine, and they’re not interested in closing up shop. So when things get dark in here again, as they inevitably will, I know that I just have to hold on tight and remember.
Nail polish.
Old-book smell.
The sun in the Midwest at 6:00 in the evening on the first of June.

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