I went to Florida again to see my Aunt Marcia. 2 out-of-state trips in one month, in which I leave my family at home, is an epic achievement for me. I wish I felt better about it, because it does mean I am working my way toward freedom that I haven’t had in years. Apparently I’m working my way toward something else I haven’t had in years. And it’s not as cool as freedom.
I haven’t experienced a real period of depression in a long time. I think 2009 is the last time I remember experiencing the absolute exhaustion, the insomnia, the numbness and the disinterest in pretty much everything. When you go that long it’s easy to be lulled into thinking you’ve escaped that affliction once and for all. Depression has certainly been one of the topics at the forefront of national discussion lately. I’ve been glad to read people’s personal accounts of their struggles and also the information coming from scientific and medical perspectives. Of course, no matter what one reads, there is the ever-present plea for those with depression to reach out and get help. It sounds so easy. But sometimes, it’s not.
This is what I hear in my head:
I know there are 800 numbers and counselors and therapists and medications. I will take advantage of those things just as soon as I can hold a conversation. Right now I’m too tired. I just plain don’t have the talking in me. I will reach out to my friends just as soon as I can talk about what I’ve been doing (I don’t even care what I’ve been doing, and it takes too much energy to talk about something I don’t care about) but right now I’m too tired. And it’s not all about me. I want to know how you are, and hear about your life, but then I will have to respond (the talking again) and frankly, I may not be able to listen to you the way you deserve because my mind wanders and I have trouble focusing. I don’t know if it’s because I’m tired or if it’s literally my brain short-circuiting, but I am having trouble completing tasks and sometimes I find myself in a room and I don’t know why or I’m holding an object but I don’t know what to do with it or I pick up the phone because I have to make a call but I stare blankly at the numbers and forget who or why and so I put it back down again.
I will reach out for help just as soon as I can complete a phone call or not lose 15 minutes staring at a chip in the grout in my shower.
I’ve never heard anybody say that, but when I have my darkest times, that’s the truth of the matter. I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
But please don’t stop encouraging me to reach out. I need to be reminded of the world out there.
My Aunt Marcia died yesterday. When she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the spring, we’d hoped to get a couple of years. When it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, we’d hoped to make it to Christmas. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, we’d hoped for 30 days. When it became clear yesterday that wasn’t going to happen, we hoped for the 5 they estimated. But she decided to just go ahead and get on with it. Which is good. Pain and loss of function is not living, but the hasty exit is also not easy for the ones left behind.
My Aunt Marcia was one of the mothers I’ve spoken of in this blog. I love her very much. This morning I thought of calling her cell phone so I could listen to her voice. But that’s crazy so I didn’t do it. I can’t promise I won’t do it in the future. My biological mother, Diane, is a hospice nurse. When someone passes, which happens frequently in her line of work, she says they “got on the bus”. The Celestial Bus, that is. So I suppose Aunt Marcia got on the Celestial Bus. She was quite curious to see where that would take her, which I’m glad to know.
This morning I put Lucy on an actual bus, alone, for the first time. Lucy loves buses. She is utterly obsessed with them. Every morning last year she watched the stop across from our house and delighted in seeing the kids get on the bus. She was so reliable at that window that the kids and bus driver started waving to her every morning, and then by the end of the year she was down there with her dad, and the driver would let him bring her on to look inside the bus.
While she’s been in pre-school for a year and a half, I’ve been reticent to let her ride her own bus. With the advent of the new school year, I decided she could. It just seemed unfair to keep someone from something that would give them so much joy.
This morning I dreamed that Lucy fell asleep and was left on the bus. I woke up at 4am and was convinced I couldn’t do it. I spent the next two hours reliving the dream and talking myself into letting her go. Why should that be so hard? Well, when you have a child who can’t speak up for herself due to a speech disorder, and a child who can’t get up and down stairs alone without risk of serious injury, it is a B.F.D. What if she does get left on the bus? That’s happened to SN kids before. It’s August in Texas and that is a bad time to get left in a vehicle. What if they don’t help her on and off and assume that she has the skills of a neurotypical 4 year-old? She could literally be broken. The fear and anxiety are crippling. But her joy is bigger.
She was so excited she couldn’t eat breakfast. She literally could not contain herself this morning because she knew that today she was a Big Kid, and the bus was coming with a seat just for her. We helped her up and watched as they buckled her in and we kissed her goodbye and the bus drove off with my tiny, speechless treasure inside of it.
I’d asked the teacher to call or text or email when Lucy arrived in the classroom safely. She said she’d try. The next hour was just a brutal, white-knuckled, sick-to-my-stomach wait. The email finally came and reported that Lucy had a great time on the bus and was carefully handed off at school without incident. By 8:15 this morning I was spent for the day.
I’ve been depressed before. Thanks to years of therapy, I’m pretty good at self-analysis. I know that this is an episode, it’s not forever, and it’s the result of a long stretch of anxiety and anticipation of loss. I know that I have to be kind to myself and forgiving of myself and if I need to sleep, then I should sleep. If I don’t want to talk, then I should be quiet. I know that I also can’t completely disengage from the world. I have to get out of my own head sometimes. But for me, healing and peace are something I find when I turn inward. My own little home inside. If I can do that and not get lost in my own world, maybe I will have a better time dealing with all of life’s buses.