It’s been a very tough time lately. I’ve gone through one of my downturns. It started about the beginning of September and has continued on better or worse, depending on the day, since.
I don’t know that I’ve described the way I feel during these emotional hard times. It starts with sleep, either getting too much or not enough. The last thing I want to do when I wake in the morning is get out of bed. I wish I could have more rest, more sleep. I remember when I sprung out of bed with a song. But no matter how hard I try, music escapes me. I have to nap in the afternoons, sometimes for hours.
It’s sheer force of will getting out of bed. I have to concentrate on making every step. I have to force myself to breathe.
When these episodes occur, the days look and feel alike. I get up, have a couple of cups of coffee, get back into bed for another hour of rest, work, come home, veg out in front of the television, take my medicines, go to bed. Day in and day out. It doesn’t matter that I’ve felt like this for a few days or for weeks. It seems during these downturns that I’ve been at the same routine for years. I think that my life is over.
Creativity also takes a break when I’m in this state. I have nothing, not a word for a poem or a sentence for a narrative. Getting into some sort of writing discipline escapes me. I have nothing to give or, rather, I feel like I have something to give and cannot give it. I can’t get up, turn on the computer, and give. I feel as if I only tried, if I could only gain the momentum for a minute, a second, then the rest would fall in line.
But I can’t get up. I don’t even feel like getting up. I know that people depend on me, that they need me to do things. And sometimes the only reason I do anything is because I have these responsibilities. I suppose they give me structure. My own sense of obligation supplies the rest of the motivation. I hoist myself up, get that cup of coffee, and trudge forth. I try not to let my emotional state disturb others.
Having gone through these things for years, I can only hang onto the idea that this will pass. It has before hundreds of times. While everything in my being says that this will continue forever, I have the intellectual will to say to myself that the down time will end. It’s almost as if that is the one thing that keeps me going, keeps me forcing myself out of bed.
I’m sure that none of this is new to you. I’m also positive that I am not the only human being every to feel this way. The downturn makes me feel unique. It makes me feel as if no one has ever had the problems I have. Age and experience, however, tell me much different.
I also see now that I dealt with this in the past in particular ways. I used to read all the time, as I find myself reading so much now. I moved the stack of rocks in my front yard around like six times, unstacking and stacking them in various locations. It’s no easy feat. Some of them weigh upwards of 160 pounds. As I moved them the last time, I realize that I went to stacking and unstacking as I have resorted to heavy physical labor in the past. Reading and moving rocks. That’s what life comes down to. It’s either that or sit around staring at the ceiling all the time. Lord knows I want to, that I don’t want to read anything or move a rock anywhere. But these things afford an escape from the darkness, even for a little while.
So, I guess I’m saying that I’m so well-read and such a physical brute because of depression. I suppose I have to admit that these cyclical depressions produced some good.
I try not to complain. But keeping this to myself only makes the burden heavier. I hope that you understand that this letter is not a complaint, just a statement of facts as I see them. Telling you what I have already seems to have lifted the darkness a little and allowed me to see that today is a beautiful fall day, brisk and windy, as fall days should be. Generally, I see the fall sunlight as sharp and full of spite. But now, even this far into this letter, the raggedness of the fall sun gave way to something gentler, more promising.
I heard that you’re sister has come to visit. I know that your relationship with your immediate family has been hard, even non-existent for years. Her presence may give you opportunities for reconciliation, even if that understanding is merely the ability to sit to a simple conversation. Don’t fret. I think you understand when I say, it will be over soon.
I hope that the new house forms to you and you to it soon. When we moved into this house, it seemed for months that we lived in a place where strangers came and went. It was only after a year that we were able to call our house our own. It formed to us after great will and effort on our part. I mean, think about it, someone else built the place. They had a particular idea about how people live and what they do in their house. The architecture and placement of walls in the place were products of someone else’s imagination. We formed our lives around those walls and those walls formed to us. Our movements were different from before. The ways that we saw our lives differed from what we knew before.
Get the furniture in there. Put things on the walls if you want. Sit in it for a while. The house will become yours soon enough and then you won’t be able to remember how you lived before.