Unlike a headache or stomachache, when you’re going through something like this, you sometimes have no idea. It’s just one bad day, or a bad week, you think. It’s just because I’m fighting with Mom, you think. It’s because I’m tired, you think, and the reasons go on. Only when you don’t feel it anymore do you realize that there was, in fact, something wrong.
I can talk about it and even write about it now because it’s over. But I couldn’t then. While I used to babble and vent to my boyfriend whenever something was wrong, there instead was a glazed silence. I’ll tell him tomorrow, I don’t feel like it now, I think. I stopped writing—I had neither inspiration nor desire, and styling for my blog felt like a chore. It was a sudden disappearance of energy, vivacity, even taking a shower felt like it demanded energy I couldn’t afford. I wanted to get things over with, anything, everything like I’m waiting for something but I looked forward to nothing. I felt neither nostalgia for the past, nor excitement for the future but I didn’t want to be in the present either.
Maybe I was waiting, I was waiting for my boyfriend to visit that Christmas. I thought his presence and support would pick me up, or at the very least distract me. I thought I’d tell him everything I was feeling then. But perhaps that was the biggest mistake I made. Because when he arrived and nothing changed, it plunged me into deeper isolation, watching his happy face while we prepared our skis or sat on the flying swings, I was irritated that he could enjoy the same moment that I couldn’t, that I was forced to perform the same motions but feel none of the same exhilaration. I felt stuck.
Stuck. Something I felt daily for the last few months, the feeling of wanting to run away but having nowhere to run to. Sometimes my thoughts and emotions spin around so much, growing heavier until I feel like I need to back away from myself, but I can’t. I felt stuck. I felt stuck after many inconclusive quarrels with my mom, all of which had roots in the anger and disappointment I’ve buried from my childhood, but only came to light upon my moving back. So when my longtime best friend who’s known me and my mother since forever candidly asked one day, “Do you think your mom will ever be the mom you need her to be?” and I finally admitted to myself, “No,” I felt stuck because I naively thought this realization would automatically lead to acceptance and forgiveness but it predictably didn’t.
Just as there are a several inches between the brain and the heart, there is similarly a lag time between logically comprehending something and feeling okay with it. It is not, as I had thought and hoped, a matter of flipping a switch. Upon finally seeing my mother for who she was, I thought things would only get better from there, so when they didn’t, I then pointed a finger at myself and asked, so is the problem me? Is there something wrong with me that I can’t seem to get a handle on this fact? Turns out, the only problem with me was that I forgot to let myself grieve. To grieve the fictitious mother I clung onto, but now know she could never be. I forgot that where I used to feel anger, I will naturally feel sadness because to be angry is to still have hope for change, but when the hope disappears there leaves a trail of sadness, a period of mourning for what will never be. Instead, I subconsciously slapped myself with some sort of absurd deadline, as if it were crucial to stop feeling animosity right now. I forgot to give myself time.
Thankfully, I spoke to a friend who relieved many of my anxieties, most of which I learned were entirely self-imposed and therefore self-relievable. But most importantly, she uttered the words I hadn’t known I was waiting to hear: “Take your time,” she said. These words felt like a warm hand on my shoulder that replaced the imaginary burden I bore because for so long I forgot I was allowed to. Allowed to take my time, allowed to be sad, allowed to be anything but okay, right now. It’s an obvious truth that we all, sadly, forget sometimes.
That following day as I took a shower, I felt a strange peace. I had no reason to feel particularly elated but at that moment at the very least, I felt neither anger or sadness. I didn’t feel worried or anxious or tired, and it was only then did I realize I had been wearing the tinted glasses of depression and only now, for the first time in months, had they been removed.
P.S. I wrote this for anyone who has ever been plagued by depression. Many will say you’re just having a few bad days, that you don’t have a reason to be unhappy, that you just need to look on the bright side. But there isn’t always a reason, it isn’t something you can will yourself back to health or logic yourself out of. So you just have to know that you are not alone and it will pass, maybe not today or tomorrow but it will. Just take your time.