I am sitting in my house, alone. Lunches have been made, children have been dressed in ironic thrift-store T-shirts, a husband wore his new socks today. The coffeemaker clicks, periodically, to remind me that it is there, waiting, and that the fair-trade coffee boiling away on the hot plate isn’t going to chug itself. The guinea pigs know how lucky they are I haven’t eaten them yet; wisely, they are crunching leftover parsley without a single errant squeak.
I’m sitting at my mango wood dining room table writing a blog post. It’s been the better part of a year since I was a regular blogger. I liked having a captive audience for my ranting and assorted observations. It was fun! Even if it was usually also work! The summer of 2011, however, got in the way. Well, no, I got in the way. The summer only helped the process along.
You have heard of depression? As it turns out, there’s more to it than the black-and-white portion of a Cymbalta commercial. There are many flavors — Manic, Low-Grade, Postpartum, more than I care to list here. My flavor is Major.
Major has been hanging out with me for decades. When I was in high school, Major was the small-town boyfriend I just knew I was gonna ditch when I blew that popsicle stand and headed off to college in the big city. When I got to college, Major was the small-town boyfriend I was still seeing who nobody knew about. The second quarter of my freshman year, all of 1998, midway through my first pregnancy, two years into my master’s degree, midway through my second pregnancy: there it was again! At any crossroads, following any achievement, and, sometimes, for no reason at all, there it was, dragging me back into the dark.
I fought Major. Mostly alone. I’d been hiding or minimizing it for so long that I thought it was just part of my personality to find life unbearable for months at a time. I thought the coping mechanisms — eating; drinking; hiding — were just part of my personality, too. Mostly, I thought I was just a flake who canceled appointments, dropped out of commitments and didn’t finish novels.
This summer, Major almost won. It was a close thing. It had been a difficult summer, full of driving people to camps and driving home from driving people to camps and going and fetching them because of catastrophes and being very grateful we had health insurance and glowering at budgets for hours at a time. I let down my guard and Major almost, almost snapped me right up. (Procrastination can work in your favor.)
Even after all that — after the classes, groups, meetings, action plans, prescriptions, journaling, I still shoved Major back in the closet. Everything was going to go back to normal soon, so why change now?
Only now it’s not clear what’s normal and what’s Major. Do I really hate talking on the phone, or is that just Major? Is everyone’s house as messy as mine? When I mix a post-dinner cocktail, am I drinking a tasty beverage — or self-medicating? Am I Type-A because of anxiety, or Major because I’m Type-A? Am I still allowed to be a Hater of most things great and small (people who say their dog is analogous to a human child; Chico’s; eating cake; KeSha) or is that just Major keeping me from jumping into the rushing stream of humanity, or whatever?
Things I have figured out, since Summer 2010: I am a writer, whether I am writing or not. I love crafting, from making tiny crosses with colored thread to knitting sweaters out of sheep to putting stickers on other stickers. I have Opinions and I have been known to Share Them. I want to be putting food in my mouth all the time, preferably the best food, even if cooking does not float my boat the way it once did. [Corollary: I am currently as many pounds overweight as I have years.] Running makes me feel like a superhero, the graphic-novel kind who beats up on the bad guys not out of duty but because it’s fun.
I’ll be teaching myself new things until there are no more new things. I miss singing in front of people. The bulk of my shoes will probably always be bi-curious. The people in my nuclear family are quirky and very funny and don’t care whether or not I have more than two Pulitzers as long as there is cereal and they have clean underpants. I am not a homebody — that was definitely Major talking. My friends are quirky and very funny and don’t ask me for cereal or underpants. I need to see them more.
So basically I’m making a lot of rambling, paragraph-like lists. And I’ll probably blog more. And that’s What’s Up. See you later! Preferably outside.