September Mislaid

Halfway through October I come to you to talk of September. September. I almost lost September.
It started in June. The signs should have been obvious, but they passed me by. There was my birthday and I refused all attempts at a party. I love a good party. I loved a good party. In June I would have none of it. Whatever tenuous grip I had on normalcy was lost in June and I spent the summer spiraling deeper and deeper.
I was drowning and I could feel it and my few attempts to kick up to the surface were feeble distractions at best. Then came September. The spiraling stopped, I settled onto the bottom and I found comfort there.
I could feel it, that growing complacency, that urge to let go the final lungful of air. But I am lucky, very lucky. That part of my brain that never fucking shuts up, that part of my brain that will not let me rest, the part of my brain that eats at me would not stop screaming. It woke me up, reminded me that this was wrong. That I have an obligation to those around me.
So, one afternoon, alone in my bedroom, I composed the email. I had been sending out occasional updates to friends and family, a way to let them know that my lack of communication came from a real issue, but hey, everything was going to be okay. Right? This was not that email. I chose a tighter circle of recipients and I wrote. It was the hardest thing I had done in a very long time. This was the nakedly honest email, this was me revealing my shame. This was not the “Hi, I have problems, let me tell you a joke and don’t worry, I will be okay” this was the far more humiliating, “hi, i have problems and there is no joke to be had and I am not going to be okay.”
I struggled and fought in that email, I could not find the words. My words are me, they are the tiny building blocks with which I build the representations of all that I am. For the past year the words were not correct. I was failing myself with unintentional misdirection. I found it was almost impossible for me to craft sentences or paragraphs that built a picture that asked for help. Over and over the words that came out expressed the state I was in but hurriedly also created a framework of comfort for the reader. “Do not worry” it was like I could not control my fingers and it was all I could type.
It took amazing effort but I managed to send out the truest email I could. Help me. My ship is sinking. I am not okay. Worry about me.
I hate being helpless. I am the one that helps. It is my job. I help. It is my soul and my function and my core. How can I ask for help? Do I even deserve to burden those around me with such requests? It’s one thing to be overwhelmingly depressed but it is quite another to hit that stage of acceptance.
Acceptance. No more depression, no more sadness, no more overwhelming struggles. You hit the stage of acceptance and you’re done. Your life is laid out before you, all things are clear and you accept them, you say thank you, and you check out. I knew how close I was to acceptance and I knew that once I fell into it, it would be a matter of days before I parked my car at the end of the Ford Bridge and said “Thank you” for the time I was allotted.
I could not let that happen. I wanted to, oh believe me, I did want to, but that part of my brain that never lets me rest, oh she did scream at me. I could not rest until I asked for help.
The response was overwhelming and now I am able to write this. The honesty is scary, but the reality was scarier.
I am not “better”, not by a long shot. I do not feel “better”. Everyday I struggle because every single day I know that “Acceptance” is still just around the corner.
I have a therapist now, someone who understands me better than the last one did. It gives me hope, it sheds some light in the tunnel so I can find my way forward. I have the support of my friends and family, each one contributing valuable pieces to the puzzle. I have David, my immensely patient David. He should have run long ago, but there he is. He loves me.
I write this not for sympathy or to be all “emo”. I write this to put an honest face on something so stigmatized. I write this so that you might see that even those that seem “okay” can struggle and fall. I didn’t have to write this. It would have been as easy to write something from Chester or share a recipe or rant on about politics. Those are comfortable masks for me. Those words come fast and cheap for me. These words that I wrote are true work.
I am not better, I am still broken. I do not want to give the impression that with a few giant steps the world will become an easier place. Life is not a sitcom, so easily wrapped up after a wacky struggle. I am honest about this because I know there are so many others out there, stigmatized and struck silent by this insidious disease and I do not want to lead them astray. More importantly, I do not want them to see a miracle where there is none. There will be no false portrayal of a cure, no sharing of an easy fix that does not exist. There is nothing easy about swimming your way back to the surface, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.