It was … not the best night of sleep I’ve ever had. I got into bed around midnight, and almost immediately kept waking up, coughing and gasping for breath, as my sinuses poured phlegm and something that can best be compared to a non-Newtonian fluid down my throat while I slept.
Around 3, I got out of bed and walked out of the room, so I wouldn’t wake up Anne, and loudly cleared my throat. I unsuccessfully tried to blow my nose, drank some water to soothe my scratchy throat, and got back into bed. It felt like I’d been asleep for second when Anne woke me up.
“You’re snoring really bad,” she said, kindly, “can you do something about it?”
“I’ve been trying, but I’ll try again,” I said. I dragged myself out of bed and repeated the ritual. I got back into bed and fell back asleep.
“Dude, you’re still snoring,” Anne said, again, after what felt like seconds. Again.
“Do you think you could go into your office and sleep on the guest bed, so we can both sleep?” She asked.
“Yeah,” I said.
I walked through the empty and dark house. I squinted at the clock on our microwave which I thought displayed a blurry 5am, or maybe 6am. I looked out the window and saw the suggestion of a sunrise, still far beneath the Eastern horizon.
I got into the very cold guest bed in my office, fell asleep, and actually stayed that way until about 10am.
Working (or not working, as the case has been for weeks and weeks of Depression) from home has its benefits.
I made a coffee and started some oatmeal. While they brewed and cooked, I walked over to my couch and snuggled my dogs.
When my coffee was ready (inverted Aeropress, for those keeping score) I filled my mug and sat down at my desk to do the 21st century version of reading the newspaper.
Jesus, the news is terrible. There’s the ongoing dumpster fire in DC, but we lost Luke Perry and Keith Flint, just a week after we lost Brody. We get it, universe. We are in the worst timeline. You’ve made your fucking point, already. I mean, you make your fucking point several times a day, but you’re really being a shit about it right now.
This timeline. I swear to god.
Since September, I’ve been in the worst depressive episode I have ever had in my life. There’s a difference between feeling depressed and having depression that is often so subtle, to someone who isn’t living inside of the host organism, it is a difference without distinction. But it’s real and it’s significant to me. Since September of last year, I’ve been overwhelmed by grief, loss, sadness, and sorrow. These stacked themselves up in a trenchcoat like Vincent Adultman and brought paralyzing depression (different from Depression) into my life. It’s been so overwhelming, I haven’t been able to relax and explore the creative part of my brain that produces stories, so I can write them down. When I’ve opened the door to what I think is the creative room in my mental house, so I can work on rewrites and revisions to the novel I expected would be with an editor by now, all I’ve been able to find is grief and sadness and loss and depression.
But thanks to literal months of therapy, working with a professional who is trained to get me through grief and loss, I have finally started to come out of the depression. I can finally think about my narrative character, Liam’s, story,about how I want to work on it for him (and my agent and eventual publisher). I can finally let my guard down without being overwhelmed by sadness. I feel like I can finally open a door into the 1983 I created, find it, instead of a giant room filled with unclaimed emotional baggage, and complete the story that lives there.
So I finished my coffee, closed the tabs on my browser, and opened the most recent copy of my manuscript.
Four … gosh, almost five … hours later, I still haven’t done anything except sneeze and cough, and curse the trees and flowers who are fucking in my neighborhood right now.
But I don’t feel worthless or useless or any of the hurtful, destructive self-image things that were imposed on me at such a young age, and so consistently reinforced throughout my adult life, they were like the air I breathe: invisible, always there, and fundamental to my existence.
You know that essay This is Water? I feel like I recently became aware of the water, and it forced me to reexamine my entire life, all 46 years of it. I’m healing. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s frustrating. But I’m doing it, one day at a time, and every little bit of progress is meaningful.
I want to get into Liam’s story and do the work that I know needs to be done, but my inner child, so hurt and abandoned by the people who should have cared for and protected him, needs the things he never got, and I’m doing my best to be the person I need in the world. I have to take care of him, because he is real, before I can take care of Liam, who is not. But their stories are intertwined in ways that I’m only partially aware of, even though I’m the author of one of them and the subject of the other. And that’s what makes working on both of them so hard, right now.
But, in an effort to be the person I need in the world, I will close with something I’ve been telling my kids since they were small: everything worth doing is hard. Don’t give up just because it’s hard, because it’s supposed to be hard.
This is hard. This is challenging. This is painful. This is water.