Saturday, January 19, 2013
the art of swimming to shore
2. You're writing on a Sunday night, drinking a hot chocolate instead of coffee. This is generally when you write, you like the midnight deadline and how it forces you to organize your thoughts. You're a last minute kind of girl. You just submitted two articles, to glowing praise from the editor, and you've got that little surge of triumph. You're doing so well, just in general, we thought it would be okay. You're working full time, and all the skiing. You have just about everything you need and then some. You've lost ten pounds. You look great. Really.
3. So your reaction, we have to admit, confuses us. You do not take it well. You grab your stomach like you've just been punched, rush to close the offensive window on the computer. You're frustrated- this is what you didn't want to happen. You pack up quickly, hands skittering across the table, in a hurry. When you reach the door there is a table full of police officers who turn and smile at you. You smile back. Then you go outside and start to cry.
4. It's extremely foggy outside, a freezing fog. Very strange weather. Watch out for those runaway trains.
5. You're crying very hard now. Maybe you shouldn't be driving.
6. We really don't think you ought to be driving.
7. You're becoming a little hysterical. You sob until you start to cough, gripping the steering wheel, trying to navigate through the blanket of fog and the distorted lens of tears. Then you pull over and throw up the hot chocolate. There goes four dollars, you think blankly, a little surprised.
You're not the only one who is surprised. This reaction, while not altogether illogical, is certainly unnecessary. It seems to be a bit out of nowhere. You're a puzzle.
8. As you stand by the side of the road, feeling spinny, it occurs to you that you might be going through a fairly significant depression.
9. Now we're starting to feel a little uneasy. You sort of had us fooled; we thought you were farther along than this. So did you, apparently. You're back on the road. You shouldn't be alone. We arrange for a friend to call at that moment, we pull some strings. It's the least we can do.
10. You wind up at your friends' house, a decision which causes us great relief. It's ten thirty at night, they were already in bed. She leads you to the couch, takes you fully into her arms like you're a kid. Your forehead is hot. She soothes you as if you were her own daughter. Her own daughter is sleeping in the nursery just a few yards away. As a courtesy, you cry silently.
8. Then he gets up and sits with you for a few minutes. He's known you since you were fifteen, he was your high school teacher, of all things, but he's never seen you like this. There are big tears running down your face. He says, "those are some big tears." You sleep in a bed in their basement.
9. We're struggling with the idea that we may have jumped the gun. Maybe you were right, that ignorance is bliss. But we really thought you ought to know. The baby cries all night and keeps you half awake. You're aware of those transitions that normally occur during sleep: the sadness melting and forming a new shape, something that feels more like exhaustion, but in a good way, like a ship finally pulling away from the harbor and slowly fading out of site. By morning you've realized this: it's not going to get any worse. In this realization there is an endless supply of relief.
10. We understand the cliche of a writer writing about depression, coming up with shaky metaphors that work, barely, to both explain how it feels and to keep it a little bit at arm's length. But that's what you get to do now. Maybe for better, maybe worse, definitely a little surreal and probably lacking in judgement, but we'll make sure you're capable of it. It might make it all worth it in the end.
Like we said, it's the least we can do.