Written Sunday, September 25, 2016
It is nearing the end of September and I am sitting on the new deck my family built this summer. The clouds cling to the western edges of the sky, and the blue is strong and warm. My phone says it is 12°C but I beg to differ as I sip from my cold drink and wonder if shorts might be needed later. The Mutt has parked herself under my seat as I write, recently defeated once again by a fly she’s tried to chase down. It gives me endless amusement when she gets in those manic panics while trying to catch winged bugs. Her rapid back and forth jumping as they zig zag through the air, inches from he”r nose. One time we watched as a bug landed on her paw and she sat there frozen, staring intently as the insect cleaned itself. They both continued like this for a solid few minutes before the fly launched itself into the air and right into The Mutts nose. She lost her ever loving mind after that, and chased the fly until her leash snagged and gave an almighty tug. But now she lies under my foot and watches intently as I nibble at the Donair from down the street between written sentences. My sister sits across from me, muttering to herself as she tries to write a five-page analysis of a short story that barely covers a single page. My mother works inside, flitting around the kitchen as she cuts, pares, preps, and cooks the harvest produce we purchased yesterday. She’s on her third batch of soup in the last twenty-four hours. My father is off, teaching kids the majestic sport of curling, and my brother alternates between the painted world on his TV screen and the truck I recently drove into meltdown. CHECK GUAGES does not mean your gauges are broken and you need to fix them, it means your vehicle is in overheat and you are an idiot when you continue to drive it.
I am writing this out because of the deep seated feeling that overflows my chest and mind and spirit. The feeling of utter content in this moment. The feeling of your face starting to ache from the smile that has not released for the last few hours. The feeling that this moment is exactly what it needs to be at this time. It’s not perfect, I am not where I want to be in my future, I am not where I thought I would be in my past. But the content stems from the fact that I am at ease with where I am right now, and all the elements that have come to paint the scene I now sit in. And I need to capture this. Not because I feel it needs to be encapsulated and preserved, but because this moment marks my realization of a great triumph.
Depression is a lying bitch. And it has been a long time in my life that it hasn’t snuck into every moment and lied to me that I’m not worth the beauty and calm and happiness in a scene. And I’ve had many a scene. The time a number of us Summer Dorm kids wandered over to the park. We swam and sunned ourselves on the floating dock, chatting and joking, and the whole time my mind chanted “You don’t belong here, they all hate you.” The countless times people invited me out, and I would cling to a drink and ritually check my phone in an attempt to calm my nerves. Those family vacations where it would curl up in my gut and chew my insides while singing “They all wish you were dead.” I could have moments where I was thinking “this is it, I’m actually happy and maybe everything is better” only to turn around and run into those damned eyes that would hiss “you don’t even deserve this, you waste.”
As some tell you, the first lie Depression will ever whisper into your ear is that you don’t even have depression. That these twisted and poisoned thoughts are completely valid and founded on fact. Just look around, you’ll see the truth in every little corner of your life. Hell, near my lowest point, depression promptly informed me that the party my friend sheld when I had to leave Nanaimo was all a sham, and at any moment they were going to yank the façade away and I would see how much they all actually despised me. They had spent a whole damn week planning this out, there were presents, and someone showed up with brownies and ice cream and I was still spending the whole time basically shoving my fingers in my ears and screaming “lalala” at depression. Not literally though, just to clear up that mental image.
So many moments in my life, where that damned beast gnawed at the corners of the picture and tainted the colours wrong and twisted the image. And it’s such a sly fucking monster, that when you come forward and state these things, people seem shocked and upset. How could you think they would hate you? How could you think so low of yourself? How could you let depression suck you this far under the waves? And that is like goddamn candy for depression. It takes that shit and gorges on it and then sits its bloated ass on your chest. And as you fight for air and try to scream that your dying, it looks down at you and goes “exactly, look at how much you ruin everything. You self centered whore.”
So you see, it’s been a long hard fight to get near the surface. To start treading water in a way that lets me breathe, and see around, and plot a course. Long hard fight to get to a point where I can look around and notice where I’m at, how I feel, and understand that there’s no gnawed edges.
And like an injury that has finally healed, I worry at it. Test around, push and burrow and search for Depression. I’m almost sure that it’s lurking just out of sight, ready to pounce and devour the scene. That’s what I’m used to. I’m used to not being able to access a full range of emotion without the pain of depression. Like any injury, or illness, you have to regain what you lost. Athletes start from scratch and work a once broken limb back into shape. People who have been sick for ages slowly build endurance back up. I work on seeing life without a shadow hanging over it.
Clouds are moving in, but the heat isn’t letting up as the sun slowly falls. My mom sends me to get more supplies for the meals, and I pick up slurpies for the family while out. The Mutt receives a few treats for how well she’s been, my sister slips on her ‘teacher glasses’ as the work continues, and eventually my mom comes out to enjoy the weather. And still, no depression in sight.