Why is depression embarrassing?
It is. I don’t know why. Most people I know absolutely get depressed sometimes. And the ones that claim they never, NEVER do…well, they’re the ones stabbing their husbands 180 times and then burying him in the backyard. (That’s a true story. Look that shit up.) And while I admire the upper arm strength one must possess to shank ones husband that many times (her triceps must have been magnificent), I’ll take a bout of sadness every now and then thanks very much.
I can usually feel the depression start to creep up. It’s friendly. Deceptive. A stealthy freefall wearing the mask of ‘taking a break’. Like dipping a foot into a bathtub of very hot water. You pull back instinctively. You know slipping into that tub wouldn’t be good. But you swirl your foot around a bit until suddenly the bite of the searing hot water takes on a level of comfort. Slowly lower yourself. Calves. Knees. Belly. Hands. Elbows. Shoulders. Lower and lower. The warm water lapping, pulling you down. Soothing. Swallowing.
My family calls it ‘My Cave’. They know it will take me days, maybe weeks to return a call. My house gets a little (lot) messier. The laundry pile gets a little (lot) bigger. My children give me a purpose at a time like this. I think that if they weren’t there, I would pull the covers over my head and sleep for 100 years. But little hands tug, demand, need…hugs, breakfast, help, shoes, visits to the park. The dog needs to be fed. The sheets need to be changed. The benefit of a kid that bed hops with peed on pajamas…I’m forced to wash sheets. Not necessarily a bad thing.
The water in the tub grows cooler. I want to climb out. But the thought of standing, shivering, vulnerable while I try to pull on warm clothes…it’s too much. I sink deeper. Lay my head back. The water fills my ears, my nose. I close my eyes. Safe. Weightless. Tucked away from life and its demands.
I don’t call my friends. It takes me days to reply to a text.
“Sorry! Just seeing this!!!!”
Exclamation points are depression in denial.
I softly bump onto the bottom of the tub.
I can go no lower.
I’ve never once thought about killing myself. It’s not that kind of sadness. It’s old stuff that pushes forward, tapping on my heart and demanding my attention. Things that I think I’m over. How stupid not to be over things from so long ago. The only time I’ve ever thought about the possibility of death was when I was really, really sick. I would lay in bed and wonder if my body would come through. And then I would get pissed off and get out of bed. Of course it would come through. I wouldn’t let some crapass autoimmune take me down.
But a memory. Snippets of an unresolved past. They clothesline you. Lift you off of your feet and drop you into that tub.
So I have to decide. Do I stay down here? Or do I gather my strength and push off, lungs bursting, racing to the top. Break the surface of the water with a gasp. Find my family. My friends. Just waiting. Whether they knew or not. Just waiting. For me to start again.