I haven’t written in a while. Sometimes when that happens, it’s because I’m distracted with the princess and the day job. Other times, it’s because I’m lost in the darkness that resides inside my head.
I’ve been depressed for a while now. It was a soft, subtle shadow at the edges of my brain. But this week, my princess went on a school trip, and all that free time and silent space made my feelings really loud. Usually, when I have a session with depression, I can watch my baby sleep and retain my grip on reality. But this time, she’s far away from home, and there isn’t that much to hold on to.
The depression was triggered by lots of things. Problems at work, end-year reflections, the silence of one friend, the disappearance of another, the death of a third, money matters, and the sudden absence of my purple hair. Yeah, I had an impulsive attack of … something or other … and ended up shedding my dreads.
Ever since my baby left for her trip, I’ve found it harder to wake up. Usually, I struggle for half an hour or more. Then I remind myself that if I don’t get out of bed, my baby can’t eat (or get to school on time). I amble over to her bed and watch her for a few minutes, and that gives me the push I need to throw off my own blanket. But this week, she’s not here, and I’ve been late for work a lot.
My princess motivates me in other ways as well. Everything I do is for her, and that hasn’t changed, but it’s harder to remember when she’s not right here to remind me – and when she’s in teenage mode whenever I call to see how she’s doing. I suppose there’s nothing more lame than your mum calling you in the middle of a fun teen-filled camp, so I totally understand where she’s coming from, but it still stings. A lot. Sigh.
Yesterday, I attended a friend’s memorial, and that sunk my depression to far darker levels. Pat was an awesome guy. We heard stories about the places he went, the things he did, and how he wooed his wife. He was at a point where he seemed happy, alive, accomplished. He had a beautiful wife, two beloved dogs, a job he loved, a house in Runda. And then these people walked into his house and shot him, took him away.
Most people respond to death by recognizing the fragility of life, and choosing to live each moment to the fullest. My response is to wonder why I should bother at all. Why even try when someone can take everything you value in an instant, simply because he can? It’s not that I’m [currently] suicidal or anything. I’m just finding it hard to … well … live. I’m hiding in sugar, lactose, fiction, and reality TV, and my work load is suffering. I’m trying to ride it out, and it’s a pretty awful place to be.
I’ve lost a lot of loved ones and attended many funerals, so I don’t know why this one affected me so much. Maybe it was the randomness of his death. It was so completely unnecessary. I was watching Star Trek this weekend, and Spock tells the doctor, ‘You humans find it easier to accept the death of one than the death of millions.’ In my case, Spock was wrong.
I find myself wondering what the point is. Why work, strive, love, live, just for someone to come and take it all away? Why do we even try? I always tell myself I do it for my daughter, to give her the kind of life she wants to have. But now she’s far away and this form of motivation seems remote and theoretical.
I was talking to … well … God, I suppose, asking him what the point is. People who have religion can hold on to the promise of eternity, the idea that everything here is just a journey, a rehearsal, a preparation for the afterlife. I don’t have that kind of faith, and maybe I never did. So I sit here and I ask God why I should bother coming to work, buying a car, locking my door, just for someone to come and take my life away.
I ask him why we sit here and pretend we’re safe, when we can die in a vault surrounded by bodyguards and electric fencing. I ask him why we bother eating healthy, going on diets, looking both ways before crossing the road, when there are people out there just waiting to shoot you down at the earliest chance.
A quiet voice gave me a simple answer. ‘Because we’re still here.’ We can be miserable, we can be afraid, we can be sad, we can be cautious. We can wonder about the afterlife, or desperately hold on to a promise of paradise with no proof but faith. We can storm around clouded in justified anger spewing hate wherever we go. But for now, we’re still here, so we might as well enjoy it. Hearing that didn’t resolve my sadness, my fear, my sense of hopelessness and loss. But it was answer, and sometimes an answer – any answer – is all you need.