It was the second day at Disney World when I realized it. Hailey was laughing her seven-year-old ass off as Victor spun us on the tea cups until we finally cried whiplash. The weather was gloomy and occasionally hurricaney (that’s a word. Stop judging me) but we were at Disney World and so everything was magical. Except in my head. I enjoyed myself and I’m so glad we did it, but the second day I realized that my peripheral vision was fading and that’s always a sign that a bout of depression is looming down toward me.
I was fine the first day. I was tired the next. The third day I wanted nothing other than to stay in bed, but instead I faked it. I still enjoyed seeing Hailey so happy. I still appreciated being able to spend real time with my family. I still functioned. I’m still functioning.
Maybe this time I’ll be able to fool myself into staving off a severe bout. Maybe it was just a fluke and it will all pass quickly. Maybe I just postponed the inevitable depression that will hit me any moment. I don’t really know.
But what I do know is that I’m going to be okay. I know that depression lies. I know that I’ll be in this black hole again and again in my life. I also know I’ll see daylight soon. The spinning continues…in both good ways and bad.
I realize how incongruous that picture is in a post about depression but it’s also pretty incongruous that some of the funniest people I know suffer from mental illness so all bets are off.
But there was one thing I wanted to share. At one point the ride we’d been waiting on was closed because a terrible rainstorm broke out so we ran for cover and hid under the monorail for some shelter. It was fairly miserable and all I could think about it how I wanted to be dry and in bed and how I felt bad for Hailey that she was stuck in a closed park with no access to rides and that’s when I noticed that she was having the most fun she’d had all day just jumping in the enormous puddles and catching rain in her mouth. Rain that had dripped off the monorail and probably gave her cholera, but still…she was so damn furiously happy. She took what came at her and made it into joy.
This isn’t a post about forcing yourself to just smile and “be happy” because anyone with true depression knows this isn’t an option. Instead, it’s about the good things that can come out of the bad. In the past 5 years I’ve received 20 emails that I keep in a very special folder. They are all from people who were looking suicide right in the face. They are all from people who are still here now. Mothers and fathers and daughters and sons who are still alive because of this blog. And not because of my posts. They’re alive because they saw the incredibly response to my posts. They saw thousands of other people saying “Me too.” “I thought it was just me.” “I thought I was alone. But I’m not.” And that – that sense of community – convinced them what their mind could not…that depression lies. That you can find help. That therapy and medication and support can change lives. And I want to thank you for that. I want to thank you from the family and friends of 20 people whose lives you saved.
And I want to thank you for reminding me every day that depression does lie. I want to thank you for telling me that it’s okay when I have a week when I simply can’t be funny. But mostly I want to thank you because there are 20 people out there today who wouldn’t be in this world if it weren’t for you. There are 20 more of us. And that’s a good thing. So maybe there’s a reason why I have depression. And maybe it’s to help someone else. And maybe there’s a reason you do too. And maybe you saved a life without even knowing it. Thank you.
This post isn’t about depression.
It’s about laughing in spite of the rain.
It’s about laughing because of the rain.