Feeling the norm

The past few weeks have been rough on me, and I know it isn’t for any particularly logical reason.

A part of it is that my significant other has been incredibly busy, so I haven’t seen as much of him as I’d like. Not only is he in his final year of a mechanical engineering degree, but he works part time and volunteers to help various contacts with events and projects. At home, he’s even been brewing his own beer and kombucha, so I’m certainly not concerned about him misusing his time. When I do see him, it’s sweet. He makes up for our time apart with warm hugs and little acts of affection. Nevertheless, I’m never quite as energetic or cheerful as I am when I get to spend more time with him. It doesn’t help that it’s been a down week anyway. At least it’s a down week instead of a down life.

Even with the low thoughts and waves of negativity I’ve been experiencing, I appreciate the normality I feel most days. When I was in high school, I didn’t know how the typical person felt at any given moment. For me, a pause in activity or thinking was dreadful. When I slowed down, I would hold my breath and try not to move until that heavy feeling of suppression left. So I kept as busy as I could back then. I took all the hardest, most work-intensive classes, and I played flute. I fenced, and I babysat. Sometimes I even tried to cook or knit or play computer games. No matter how hard and constantly I worked to avoid those moments of non-thinking, though, they would come.

I would often lay in bed waiting for sleep and stare at the lights traveling across my ceiling, and it was at those times I feared myself. I could have listed everything that made me happy, but if I did my mind would have twisted it all, and joys would have become miseries. Every movement would bring to my attention another dull aching brought to life only by my chemically unstable psyche. My own mind turned against me, gave me options for emotional release that only would have worsened my situation.

Moving through the halls with friends, I would lose motivation to walk, collapsing to lean against any wall nearby. They would join me, chat about silly things, and act as though I’d deliberately taken that seat. I know that some of them were burdened, too, though, put down by their own genetic codes and family members. I know and knew that I’ve never been alone, and for that I am appreciative.

When I started college, my mother and older sister encouraged me to seek help, and it wasn’t the first time they had done so. Before, help was never really accessible, though. Even so, for bad reasons–fear of diagnosis, risk of exposure, pride–I resisted. I went to bed when the sun was barely setting, I showered twice a day, I skipped classes, and I avoided human contact.

Then, after a very honest night with my older sister, I decided I needed to stop the urges to disappear before I got the courage to do something horrible. She took me to a therapist, and she took me to a doctor. The therapist was no help at all, considering that she was more interested in talking about her weekly tarot meetings in Denver than discussing how to cope with my brain’s uncomfortable flaws. The doctor, though, may have quite literally saved my life. Finding the cocktail took some time, but one morning I woke up and the clouds had cleared.

Many people don’t know what depression feels like, and it’s not easy to describe, but being without it is incredible. I now breathe without the desire to stop. I swallow without the ball of tension in my throat. When tears come, there is almost always an external source for the pain.

So I’ve had a few rough days. I’ve slept a lot and taken too many showers. Even right now I’m sitting on my bed, the only light here pushing its way through the slits in my closed blinds, but I know that this odd, encapsulating heaviness will fade if I let it. Because my norm has changed. And I am so grateful.