The faint light of day started breaking through the windows and I sleepily lifted the lids of my eyes. They adjusted, slowly, and I could make out the tree branches from our backyard against the dark blue early morning sky. I breathed in heavy and I knew right away – something was different.
There was a tightness in my chest and the air felt thick in those first breaths of daybreak. I clenched tight to the pillow and turned my face into the sheets, letting my thoughts roll quickly downhill, tumbling into the endless sea of to-do’s, and pushed further downward by my lack of desire to do any of the things listed.
Yesterday, I wanted to disappear. I couldn’t. Rowan is going to wake up soon, I thought to myself.
Somehow, I managed to get myself out of bed. Better judgment won the battle of breakfast and I convinced myself I should eat something. The last thing I wanted to do was eat. The last thing you need to do is eat, I thought.
I had a play date scheduled for Rowan that morning. I looked around the living room as I sunk further into the armchair and I knew there was no way that was going happen. There was too much to do before the first showing of the day.
I don’t know why I bother. Nobody is ever going to buy this house. So much work for nothing.
I cried more.
My tears were wiped dry on the sleeve of my sweatshirt and I gathered my coffee mug and bowl of pale blue milk left over from my cereal. I haphazardly threw them in the sink. The crash startled the dogs and they cowered.
Rowan woke shortly after. I think it was shortly after. I could have been standing at the kitchen sink for hours, I had no idea.
I wiped more tears and my sweatshirt sleeve was starting to soak through.
I went to his room, opened the door and was greeted by his usual good morning smile, and a “Hi!” I love it that he says hi. He reaches for me and my heart melts soft as I lift him out of the crib and allow his head to rest on my shoulder. I bury my nose into the fine wisps of blonde hair and breathe in the Johnson & Johnson baby smell. He pops his head up and gives me a kiss.
I get him fed and occupied. I make the beds, tidy up the rooms, wipe down bathrooms and start in on the vacuuming. I’m tired now. It’s been a couple of hours of cleaning at this point and my body feels like lead and dammit, why can’t I get this table to look clean? I wipe again. Again. Again.
It’s not clean enough. This house isn’t clean enough.
I frantically scoured the room with eyes wide and I’m afraid to blink because I know it’ll release the dam of water, waiting to be spilled over. I look at Rowan playing quietly with his blocks behind the couch. I haven’t played with him all day.
You’re so worthless.
There it was. The unwelcome visitor. Depression. It’s been over a year since its last appearance in my life, but there was no mistaking it. I know it too well.
I called Erik right away, knowing he was going to be home early to help me get Rowan and the dogs out of the house.
“When are you going to be home?” I asked. “Probably not until after the showing, I just got busy here,” he replied.
“Are you serious?” I said, voice cracking. “What’s the matter?” he asked.
“I can’t do this. I can’t clean this goddamn house by myself, there’s so much to do, nothing is getting done, I’ve got Rowan here and I haven’t even had time to shower and I’m supposed to be out of the house in an hour. I can’t do this. I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” I cried heavily into the phone.
He knew. “Okay, I’ll be right home.” He hung up.
He came home quickly, we finished up the house, piled everyone into the grey SUV and we made our way up the street.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
“No.” I said.
“What’s wrong?” He pleaded.
“I don’t know.” I wept. Sobbed.
He pulled the car over and held my hands and asked, “Are you just sad?” I knew what that meant. What he was really asking was Is this what I think it is?
I nodded and cried heavily.
We talked it through and he spoke his words of affirmation and soul-rest into my ears and heart and I started to feel the burden lift. Just a little. That’s all I needed. I needed something to break the clouds, even just the smallest window into blue sky. That’s all I needed. I just needed a little glimmer of hope.
He always reminds me of hope.
We drive south to the self-serve yogurt place and I load up on cake batter ice cream and pour on the sprinkles.
Because nothing gets rid of an unwelcome visitor quite like a cup full of sprinkles.
I’m still not sure why depression decided to visit yesterday. I have my theories, but needless to say it was shocking and unexpected. It’s been well over a year since my last notable battle. I thought I had won the war.
Though I’m just fine today, it’s reappearance has me shaken. I wonder – will I ever be free of it? Will it always be there, hiding in the shadows? Maybe it was just a fluke. Or maybe the fat lady hasn’t quite sung yet. I’m not sure.
What I do know is that just like the rest of life, I’ll have to handle this new development the only way I know how – one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, with my community and support around me.
That’s all I know how to do.