Fear

r001-031On my eleventh birthday I fell through the ice while playing on a frozen river.   The frigid water sucked the breath right out of my body starting from my big toes moving fast up to that place in my throat that burns when I’m really sad.  That was the first time I truly recall feeling fear.   When I heaved myself out the air felt like summer; at least until I got halfway home and my pants were stiff with ice.

I haven’t paid much attention to fear since then but it’s been sneaking up on me lately.  It seems to me I feel all kinds of fear now.

The kind that jolts you awake when you almost drive into the ditch but somehow don’t.   Quick to subside with only lingering tingles in your feet and hands.

The fear you feel when you think you’ve lost your baby but he actually just fell asleep in the corner of the living room under a couch cushion.  Fear to joy.

Or that awful nauseating fear that you feel when someone looks at you with eyes that whisper gently that they don’t care; or at least not nearly as much as you do.   Like icy water it steals your breath.

What exactly am I supposed to do with all of it?  Does it serve a purpose?  Teach me a lesson?

Mind the road.

Mind the baby.

Mind the tenacious heart.

Do people live with this all of the time?  Am I normal now?  I think I prefer invincible.  My overconfidence in my ability to navigate a frozen river and to even escape it’s jaws somehow escapes me now when faced with the heartbreak of life.   My throat burns.

Thank You

r003-020There is a certain beauty in having brushed up against deep sorrow and survived it.  There is certainly honor in it having taken up residence in your belly and chest, taunting you with the hope of death, and rejecting it despite its temptations of relief.  That’s where I sit most days.  Profoundly proud and thankful.

Sometimes I think back to June; to that horrifying six weeks when I begged for death to relieve my illogical sorrow.   I remember hands.  Some nervous and pleading.  Some demanding and angry.  A few that were warm and kind.  I also remember the day I had to stand up again.  Without the hands.

No one tells you that the hardest part of depression is getting better mostly but not all the way.  When the hands leave.

There are things I wouldn’t know about now had I not fallen into the pit and climbed back out again.   The world is so vivid when it stops being gray.  Did I not always feel the warmth of the sun on my body so intensely or hear the orhestra of wings fleeing the cherry tree as I passed by?

I’m quite certain I had never really taken notice of some things.  The intimacy of sharing an apple.  The touch of a man; the smell of one.  The braveness of a child pulling out his first tooth.  The way bare feet feel in wet grass; Why does everyone want me to wear shoes so badly?  Don’t they know that my feet felt nothing and now they feel everything?

What all of this means is simply that it was really bad.  It was impossibly bad.  But now it’s just beautifully hard and at least most of the time it’s maneagable.  Thank you for listening to my mundane story of hardship and triumph.  I’ve been moved to tears by your words and encouraged by your stories.  I hope you all have warm kind hands to hold you for a while.

 

 

176 A journey through severe depression

I looked up at the mountain as I came home today.  I’ve driven this road a hundred times in the last six months and haven’t given it even a moment of thought.  So knowing that what properly functioning  people do is notice, I somehow slowed the whirring gears of my mentally ill brain enough to see that the leaves are gone.  Wooden skeleton trees stand frozen waiting for the heavy snow to adorn their naked limbs; Less showy than their previous blazing jewelry but still a delicate sort of beauty.

Mount Hanley (our tiny Nova Scotia community) is still the place it was six months ago as well.  Everything carried on without me; the world not requiring my sanity, my work or my involvement.  My children grew despite my hollowness.  They smiled and ate; played and worked.  I wonder if they saw me pretending to live or if they were fooled by me too.  Lola, the masterful charlatan.

We eat supper with our neighbors a lot.  When they go home I crawl into bed and wonder if tomorrow I will be me again.  Yet?  Ever? Did I fool them too? The dog barks at the barn into the pitch black and if an animal intruder is suspected it certainly isn’t apprehended by our fine hound.  “All bark” as they say.   When I wake in the morning I feel the early winter sun on my face and for a glorious thirty seconds my brain doesn’t remember that it’s still crazy.  It just smells the morning and hears the yawns and whispers of children in far off rooms.  Children who need me less than they did out of the necessity of survival.  When the jittery darkness falls on me again I wear it like an uncomfortable coat.  I can’t take it off because it’s too cold outside.  I’m just a skeleton tree waiting for the snow.  I will be cold but delicately beautiful and less showy than before…

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