It’s nearly eleven in the morning on a Friday. I haven’t achieved anything yet apart from getting my son safely to school without him noticing anything. Maybe I did worry my poor niece a little with a few short accesses of temper. I’m not overly concerned about her: she is old enough to be considered an adult (or should be anyway). My husband left for work knowing what was going on, only not the depth of it. He gave me a kiss and a hug, asked me to please look after myself and try to have a good day.
I am unable to work. Or maybe I would be able if I pushed myself, but unfortunately there is no pushing left in me. Apart from the evident apathy, there is also a sort of darkness that keeps coming and going in heavy waves. I’m standing on the beach of a black, sticky ocean. The wave rises then falls, happiness returns. Another wave comes. Goes.
I am happy. I live in a beautiful and warm little house, in a quiet and friendly street, in a lovely beach community, in probably some of the easiest and safest countries in the world. My husband, who is generous, caring, patient, hardworking and sexy, loves me very much and shows it all the time. My son is as perfect as any 8 years-old ever could be. He is clever, happy, affectionate, inquisitive, strong, handsome, friendly, incredibly coordinated and often brave. Our six months old puppy is a crazy and gentle gem. The cat is another story, but after experiencing his unconditional friendship and wisdom for so long, I feel nothing but loyalty towards the old curmudgeon his bad kidneys and arthritic pains have turned him into. After all he is about eighteen, putting him at about 90 in human years; he’s a allowed a bit of a bad temperament. I am surrounded with love. Motherhood and house management aside, I have a professional activity which I can’t complain about either. I am able to choose my clients, set my own times and I answer to myself only. It pays well without making me feel guilty about taking too much of people’s money.
My life is perfect. I do not complain. Well, sometimes I do, but that’s just me suffering from temporary narrowed sense of perspective, like every other human being that ever lived. It’s a good sort of existence, which can be full on at times (okay, a lot of the time) and yes, I am prone to stress, but compared to the overwhelming majority that populates our miserable world, I can count myself amongst the lucky handful.
There is nothing to feel despair about, yet every few minutes or hours, in a pattern as unpredictable as the occurrence of prime numbers, I am gripped by a sense of total despair. It rises out of nowhere and takes over every little corner of my mind until there is nothing but a terrible sort of darkness. Not the absence of hope but its very opposite. I have never been afraid of death, so it doesn’t scare me. It’s not fear, just negative space instead of what should be a pretty happy inner life. Once it’s got good enough a grip, it starts the undermining work of cancelling all rational thoughts and replacing them with horrendous, hurtful lies:
1- “I’ve never been good at life. It’s just not my thing.”
2- “People only like me until they get to know me.”
3- “I am a poison to those who love me.”
4- “Love is an illusion. The human heart is made of ego and emotional greed.”
5- “Hope is for the weak.”
6- “However hard I try, I’ll end up messing up something, and then will come tomorrow, another dreadful day.”
7- “I am incapable of humour. I am boring and devoid of any real talent.”
8- “I lack resilience and strength of character.”
9- “I have never and will never amount to anything good or useful.”
And on, and on, at nauseam, until tears are pouring down my neck and I want nothing more than stop existing altogether.
I know what to do with it: cry it out, wait it out. Invariably, as surely as every tides eventually recedes, so does the darkness. The hurt goes away as if it had never been there. I can breathe again. Life goes back to normal. Except that I feel like I’ve just come out of a giant washing machine without a rinse program. Just washed out but in a stinky kind of way.
Why and how does it happen? I have no idea, just a cloud of suspicions. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter whether the disease is part of my genetic heritage or the result of some childhood mishaps; whether or not it should be called a disease is another moot point. For me it’s all about living with it, containing it, and preventing it as much as possible from hurting those who have the misfortune of sharing my corner of the planet.
During a day like this one I smile just as often as I weep. As soon as the horrendousness is gone I become once again able to see the beauty of life and experience its simple joys. In fact, I am then even more sensitive to delight for having just come out of its opposite. I cannot start to describe how tiring it all is. The very exhaustion I feel makes me smile. No, really, one must appreciate the humour in such pointless lunacy.
I’m not always like that. It happens in my life according to a mysterious pattern. One day or a few at a time, then gone entirely. It can be months before it comes back. I can never say whether crisis sets it off, like an accumulation of stress, worry or anger, or if the excess of stress, worry or anger are actually the first symptoms of an oncoming depressive period. There are physical symptoms too: waking up at a fixed hour every night, lack of energy, difficulty to concentrate, short term memory loss and most embarrassing of all: constipation (how I enjoy that one!).
If it weren’t for my son, whom I love beyond anything, I would have given up a long time ago. As I said already, death does not scare me, never has. But here’s another solid thing about me: I won’t inflict the loss of a mother to an eight year old. My husband, he would be hurt too of course. I’m not being selfish when I say that I don’t keep on going for his sake. It’s just not my place to feel this kind of responsibility towards him. At least I do not entertain such arrogance. I trust him as I live, therefore for the sake of pure logic and consistency, I must trust him beyond the limits of my worthless life.
Death is not a problem. It’s just not part of the equation.
I have come through black holes so many times that I have developed an intimate knowledge of their nature and characteristics. They come in many sizes, shapes and tastes. The fact that I trust myself to get through them should, logically, alleviate at least some of the pain. Not in the least. Whether you know in your deepest centre that you’ll be fine or actually manage to even lose grip on that last certainty, none of it makes a spot of difference. Hurt laughs in your face and strikes just as hard.
Words help, although I am unable to say them aloud but to myself. Shame goes hand in hand with depressive states. They’re terribly good pals. Writing about it is marginally easier, as long I don’t propose to let anyone read it. That is, anyone I know.
So here opens a small window, so an eventual stranger may gaze into the depths of my internal and tumultuous abyss. This is sharing for the cowardly. Please don’t read this wrong. I am not feeling sorry for myself at all. Life’s shit sometimes and this is but a particularly shitty day.
Yet just one day.