The invisible wall

Sometimes, it is difficult to completely explain what living with depression feels like. I’m going to try anyway because it is important for everyone to get a better understanding of it since the number of people with depression is increasing, but many people who don’t have it still brush it off as it were nothing.

It is far from nothing.

You wake up, but you keep your eyes shut. Your alarm clock is set to wake you up any minute, you just know it. But you dread it. It means having to swim through the the seemingly thick air around you and start  your day. But you can’t. Your muscles work fine, nothing physically hurts. Your mental and emotional state is a whole other issue.

Your alarm goes off. You wince and reach over to shut it off. Your inner monologue repeats “I can’t do it today. I can’t do it today. I can’t do it today” on a never ending loop. It hurts. “Why do I feel this way?” you wonder. “Why can’t I do this?” “Because you can’t”, you reply to yourself. You just can’t.

You get up and prepare yourself to call work. Do you tell them the truth today? Do you tell them your depression is so bad today that you can’t bear to step one foot out of your front door because it will be one step too many? Or do you just go with the old standard? Will your boss understand? Your breathing increases as you dial the number and listen to the line ring. You pray and pray that you reach their voice mail, though many times you do when it’s this early in the morning. The line clicks to voice mail. You breathe a sigh of relief. You hear the tone. You apologize, but you woke up not feeling well today. You ensure your voice sounds a little hoarse and believable. You leave your number in case they need to reach you, and apologize again before hanging up. Hopefully one day you can tell them the truth.

Your shoulders lighten a little. That’s the main obligation for the day out of the way. You look around the room. You see your furniture, your possessions, your walls… they are all too much for you to stand right now. Just having your eyes open almost brings you to tears. It’s too much. You need to escape, but you still can’t set one foot out the front door. You escape to the only place where it is dark and quiet, where the world and your possessions can’t find you.

You go back to bed and sleep.

However many hours later, you’re awake again, thankful for the escape. Most likely it’s after noon and you’re hungry. Are you hungry? The thought of asking yourself this question strikes you as odd. Of course I’m hungry, I skipped breakfast and lunch. You open your fridge and stare at its contents. You have a lot to eat and nothing to eat at the same time. In the end you decide you are not hungry, so you close the door.

You wander over and sit where your body tells you to. Sometimes it’s the couch. Sometimes it’s a kitchen chair. Sometimes it’s the floor. Wherever you are, you sit, and you begin to stare off at nothing in particular. You stare and stare, and minutes pass, but you don’t pay attention to how many. “Why is this happening?” you ask yourself. Then you are suddenly disturbed by everything around you. Your possessions start to haunt you, and you start seeing dollar amounts appear next to everything you own. If you could just sell it all, or just get rid of it. Then would you feel better? Everything is suffocating you. Could you stand to live without them? You curse yourself for having so much stuff. Why do I have all this junk in the first place. You feel disconnected from everything, like a ghost. It’s as if you are not meant to be here and everything is pulling away from you.

You slowly drift to a better state of consciousness, and the dollar amounts fade away. You’re still sitting, so you decide to lay down wherever you can. Minutes pass again. Your significant other comes home. Suddenly, you start to dread their questions, because they always feel the same, and it feels like you are beaten with a baseball bat each time.

“How do you feel?” The first blow takes out both of your knees.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Your gut takes a hit and suddenly feels hollow.

“I don’t know what to say.” The final blow is to your head, and it caves in.

You can’t answer worth a damn. You can’t articulate well enough for them to understand. You don’t know what would help. You feel at a loss, because you know they care and mean well. The best you can do is give them a meek smile and reply that you will be okay.

Until another day like today comes around.

(Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave Your Shoes at the Door)

Comedic portion

I couldn’t help but laugh. Actually, I had to stifle my laugh since our server was still within earshot.

My husband and I were out for our bi-weekly dinner date night at a local restaurant (which shall remain nameless to avoid trouble), and our meals had just arrived. I had ordered the special of the night, spaghetti and meatballs made with fresh, local ingredients (and a hint of mint, if I’m not mistaken). My husband, however, ordered steak, though I must note that there appeared to be more plate than meal.

Now, my husband has a rather large frame. He has broad shoulders, thick, muscular legs, and is 6-foot-3. His meal, on the other hand, consisted of two small, peeled carrots, one long-stemmed broccoli floret, and a handful of baby potatoes that were roasted (quite nicely, since he offered me to try one) along with his steak that was a little smaller than the size of my palm, not his. For my husband, this meal was comparable to dropping a Saskatoon berry into a large bucket.

I felt bad. Not just because I could finally laugh fully, but because my meal was considerably larger. It was placed inside a bowl with sides that were higher on two opposite ends, with a generous portion of noodles and sauce along with three or four meatballs.

“Would you like some of my spaghetti?” I asked, just as he was finishing his famine.

“No, it’s okay.” he replied.

“What else have you eaten today?”

“Aside from this?” He stared off for a second, thoughtfully. “A can of Coke, I think. That’s it.”

I rolled my eyes internally. I would have been on his case for not eating enough, but I too tend to not eat a lot throughout the day since I find myself so busy taking care of our daughter. Food slips my mind, and in turn, he scolds me.

“Well, you should eat something when we get home.”

“No doubt, I will.” He replied.

Though I had finished my entire bowl of pasta and was feeling rather full, I checked the restaurant’s display case of desserts and decided to order a slice of cinnamon bun cheesecake to share in an effort to sneak some more calories into my husband’s stomach.

We both agreed that our next date night dinner will be at restaurant that we knew served bigger portions.

(Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Posts)

Little boys and plastic toys

It was 3:50 p.m. on a Sunday, and I had just finished texting my husband, with my shopping cart pulled up next to a rack of discounted baked goods at the south side Safeway. I asked him if there was anything else he needed me to pick up before I made my way to the tills.

“nopex”, he replied. He must have been holding our three-and-a-half-month-old daughter as he typed. She had been quite squirmy lately, what with her teeth possibly trying to make an appearance and all. My husband had turned off the auto correct feature on his phone long ago, so the typo didn’t really faze me.

I stashed my phone back into the front zipper pocket of my purse and started to push my cart towards the tills. I was met with some resistance, so I checked to see what the shopping cart may have been caught on. The rear left wheel had caught the bottom shelf of the discount pastry rack, adding another scuff to the collection that had already accumulated.

‘At least I’m not the only one’, I thought to myself. I unhinged the cart from the clutches of the rack, and slowly made my way to the tills.

Late Sunday afternoons at the grocery store are always killer. You either have churchgoers, still dressed in their Sunday best, picking up a few odds and ends, clogging up the self check-out line, or the procrastinators who waited until the last minute to pick up their week’s worth of groceries. Thankfully, I had more than what I would normally scan when using the self check-out, so I weaved past the make-shift line that always formed for the terminals, and surveyed the lines for the regular tills.

Choosing the checkout line that will whisk you out of the store the fastest is tough. I could have gone down to the far end line near the produce section where everyone seems to believe it’s an express lane, when really it’s not. (The express lane is actually next to the self checkout lanes, but it is rarely open on Sundays.) Or I could have gone to the line that had a fairly new cashier working the lane. It was a socially awkward fellow by the name of Alex, or something like that. I remembered him because he rang my groceries through the previous week, tripping over his end-of-transaction script as he handed me my receipt. I wasn’t interested in a repeat performance, so I pushed past his line.

I finally decided on a line that had a mother with her two young boys at the end of it. She was looking a bit frazzled as she started placing her items on to the conveyer belt. One of her boys sat in the child’s seat of the shopping cart, his little legs swinging back and forth as they dangled. He was playing with a snowboarder figurine, dressed in dark green like large, plastic army man, but it stood aboard a neon orange snowboard. The boy ran the figurine along the handlebar of the shopping cart, manoeuvring it back and forth as if it were a trick railing.

The boy’s brother, who looked to be about four years old, stood behind his mother as she unloaded the cart’s groceries. He was all over the place as he walked in front of his mother in line, next to her, and behind her again, until she told him to stop and wait for her to finish. He looked down at the floor, dejected. But it didn’t last long as he saw his brother slide the snowboarder figurine back and forth across the handlebar, over and over again. The older brother put his hands up on the handlebar, making more obstacles for his brother to run over, until one pass when the older brother swatted at the figurine, forcing the figurine to the floor. The older brother bent down in front of the front left end of my shopping cart to look for the figurine, but I found that it had landed near the rear right wheel of my shopping cart. I bent down, picked up the figurine, and gave it to the older brother.

“Here you go”, I said to the older brother. He just looked up at me, then quickly turned to his little brother and handed him the toy. It was at this moment that the little boy finally made eye contact with me. He had been so enthralled with his toy that he didn’t notice me the entire time I had been standing behind him with my cart (not that I expected him to). He was maybe two years old. Toys are important at that age, y’see.

“Thanks!” I heard their mother hastily reply, then went back to unloading the groceries. When she was done, she came to the rear of her cart and pushed it on through. Between paying attention to the cashier, her rambunctious older son, and her younger son still sitting in the cart, I could tell her day had been a rough one. Her younger son dropped his figurine a second time, and his brother went to pick it up, but played keep away with it until his brother squealed and his mother scolded him, telling him to give the toy back. Dejected once again, the boy did as he was told, and rounded to the front of their shopping cart, shoved his hands in his pockets, and waited for his mother to complete her transaction.

Having payed for her groceries and obtaining her receipt, she guided her cart off to the north-east entrance, disappearing from my cognizance.

“Sounds like they’ve had a long day” the cashier chimed in, interrupting my thoughts.

“Hmm?” I faltered, then quickly realized what she said. In order to keep up with the social conventions of small talk, I replied “Oh, yeah. Hopefully they’re heading home”.

I was never that great at small talk.

(Weekly Writing Challenge: Three Ways to Go Gonzo)