When I die, I want my ashes put in one of those biodegradable cups that grow into a tree and planted someplace off the beaten path but where people might still find respite in the cooling shade of my branches. Maybe someone would bring a notebook and pen on a warm day and sit with their back leaning against my trunk to write while the wind blows through my leaves with enough ambient noise to filter the static of the quiet that might otherwise prove to be too much. I want to be someplace where my roots can take hold, where I’ll have water and sun and nourishment. I want to be strong.
I don’t mean this to sound morbid, but I’ve been coming across as seemingly morbid lately even as the days grow longer and the skies brighten. What I had hoped a week ago was not the beginnings of an inevitable downslide into depression and just plain old boredom was just that and sometimes it’s hard to not come across as a little morbid when you feel defeated. Today has been a good day though, all things considered. I left my apartment willingly, I ate relatively well, I was creative. All things considered, today was a success story. Still, I can feel it lurking below the surface, waiting for an excuse to bubble up and take over and I know it can at the flip of some invisible switch.
For me, depression feels like a darkness inside of me that I can’t escape. It starts somewhere deep and grows from there, infecting everything like a virus running rampant through my mind and body. It feels tight until my emotions are either running full tilt all at once and alarmingly overwhelming or until I am shrunken and shut down and numb, unable to feel anything except all consuming defeat. It sounds melodramatic, even to me, until it hits me again and I am living it and then I’m just riding it out until something gives. Sometimes I just want to sleep, curl up in bed and pull the covers up forever with my stuffed animals until I start to worry I might rot there. Other times, I can’t eat, can’t sleep and I alternate between needing to be in constant motion and feeling like my limbs will falter from exhaustion. I feel like when I was a kid, being “crazy” could be brushed aside almost as a phase that I was going through but now that I’m in my thirties, it’s not cute anymore and if it’s a phase, it’s one that keeps repeating.
An art therapist a couple years ago challenged me to draw something that encompassed hope in my recovery and this is what came out of the project. I’m not sure what she thought of it, but to me, it’s a little representative of this fight, something trying to pull me under, me standing at a precipice with a huge weight on my shoulders having to make all of the decisions again and not knowing how things will wind up.
(The above image is a color drawing of a person standing at the edge of a drop-off with a river raging in one direction, fire in another and a ladder leading to the unknown.)