It doesn't take much for me to decide, at long stupid last, that there is no God.
A dog skull does the trick, this afternoon. I'm cured.
The dog no bigger than a large cat leaps onto the couch into the same space and at the same moment I am reaching for--what? Who knows now. The puppy's small dense skull collides with my left eye socket. She is unscathed (the whole fucking world, even a dog, knows how to shake itself off and walk away untouched--pain is remarkably optional for many) but I reel from the impact.
The pain is a fresh pain, at least, something new. That triggers the tears I've been holding at bay for days. I press the heel of my hand to my brow, sobbing furiously and instantly. The pain as an isolated moment is not the issue. It's a dogpile of pain that won't let up, accompanied by self-commentary so vicious, I would drive a knife into the eye of anyone who spoke to my daughters in the same way.
To call it self-commentary is not quite fair. I suspect none of this is fair, although depression likes to tell me it's absolutely fair, that I deserve every sadness, every letdown, every unkindness, every bounced check, every lost love, every drop of bad luck I get. Depression is a monster I swallowed in my sleep, and it's doing the talking now. It's not quite me, the voice, but it's been around so long that I don't remember my own.
I was not always like this, not even close. I was not always this person. I had happy stretches, a mostly normal existence, highs and lows. I loved good people; they loved me back.
That's what makes the now almost unbearable at times: I remember contentment, but I can't touch it anymore. It won't come when I call.
The beast tells me daily that I am beyond hope, have always been beyond hope, am a fuck-up beyond redemption. It tells me I am destined to be lonely and alone, while all around me friends and acquaintances and strangers stay married--or divorce but immediately remarry. Everyone's fine, everyone's marrying their best friend, everyone just knew, isn't that something, isn't it amazing, how life works.
Who could bear you? is what the depression likes to ask me. Who the fuck do you think you are, to think anyone could love you for very long? That anyone would remember you, want you back?
My twice-yearly life insurance premium surprises me in the mail. I think my ex-husband is still the beneficiary, because of the kids. I suppose I should ask. What do I say? I don't want you to be my beneficiary if I'm not your beneficiary. It's absurd. I hope we are going beneficiary steady, still. Beneficiary. Such a polite, cheerful word: bene, bene!
According to the premium, my life is worth $250,000--did I decide this, once? When? What value would I give it now?
I cannot imagine someone paying a quarter of a million dollars for this life. The joke's on them, I suppose. I should try to enjoy that.
I'm better in a relationship. But it's got to be a good one, a steady one, and they're hard to come by. Try leaving a relationship that you suspect is hurting more than it's helping--this infuriates depression. Who do you think you are, to expect any more than this? The voice is savage--so what if his anger made you sick? You're already sick, you sick fuck.
Asking for help is more excruciating than remaining silent. This feature of depression ensures that the sufferer will succumb to the disease eventually. I wake up dully thinking that it is winning, it will always win, that it is just a matter of time.
I'm not sure why it kills some people when others don't even know what it is.
There's no one story for depression, as far as I can tell. Me: I was raised to keep the brilliant smile lit when anyone was watching. No one's fault, everyone was just doing what they'd learned. I did it all through my teen years, which were marred by date rape, sexual abuse. I equated smiling with surviving. No one knew a damn thing was wrong, or if they did, they didn't ask.
I smile a lot. I have smiled for years. It is my way. If smiling while sad were an Olympic event, you know who would medal? This woman. I'm funny, too, when I need to be, or think I need to be.
I smile, I'm funny, and I have no idea how to ask you for help. I could not ask for help when my babies were born, a perfectly reasonable time to ask for help. Maybe the most reasonable time, outside of a death, to ask for help. No one brought casseroles; I never made it onto a list like that. Secretly I cried, feeling like a freak. I don't give off the right vibe. I have never mastered it. But I want your lasagna. I really do.
Depression fucks with friendship, with the ability to admit to nearby souls that the tank is empty. In my case, the worse it gets, the quieter I get, because the self-disgust is too massive a burden to share. The fear of being defined as The Depressed One is overwhelming. So pain and desperation reads as distance. It would take a visible crisis for the brave to come forth with scalloped potatoes and lemon bars. I sometimes wish to God to swap the depression for cancer. Then I say, fuck you, you don't exist anyway, forget I asked, that was a weak moment.
There are better times than others, when the stars and the drugs (ah, the fucking drugs, enough to down a baby rhino) and the dollars and the good souls all align. Then the smiles come easy and real. I remember what I like about myself, what I like to do. I just can't count on those times to stick around for long. So excuse me if I seem wary of you or anything you've offered. I know to count blessings fast and then let go. It's better if I let go on my own, rather than let the depression pry the good from my hands. It leaves claw marks like you wouldn't believe.
It's down to resources, now. If I seem like a crap friend to you, I am sorry. You probably shouldn't be my friend if you feel that way. I'm totally on your side. It's just this: I am very careful with what energy I have left. And there's not much left, right now, here in 2013.
My fight goes to the girls. I can't say I'm really fighting anymore when it comes to myself. Nothing has paid off, and I've lost every fight I cared about, except my kids. They're not half bad, those two.
Am I breathing, still? Sure, but what a shit way to define winning. This is not living as I'd like to live, or as you'd like to live, by the way.
I get up in the morning because of my kids, period. I fight for the girls and the joy I have in relation to them. That is the only thing that makes sense to me. That's the only thing I continue to care about. Only: what a scary word. But there's no exaggeration there. I feel numb in all other regards. Hope is the dead thing with feathers. I hate the word now. It catches in my throat. I shake my head when I hear it. I think it's cruel--as cruel as the concept of God, which I formally relinquished to a dog skull at 3:14pm EST this afternoon.
My daughters know who I am, the real deal, for better or for worse. They know what this depression means. They have seen it up close, and they are brave. They have a mother who struggles clumsily and mightily to love them well. They see the tricks my mind plays on me. They know it could happen to them. I hate that it could happen to them. I won't even look at the stats. I see how it played out in my family. Checkmate.
I wonder what sacrifice I could make, to appease the shitty depression gods, persuade them to leave my children alone. But like I said, I'm not buying into gods anymore. Beasts and monsters, yes; gods, no.
This is my way of saying I could really use a lasagna from you right now. Or a baked chicken. This is an awful summer, and as of 3:14pm, there was no God, either.