So, listen. Tomorrow is the release of the paperback edition of Broken so I should be writing about that but instead I’m writing something imperfectly that I need to get down and that maybe you need to read.
If you’ve been here long enough you already know I battle with depression and probably always will. This last week has been filled with wonderful things, like school plays, Indie Bookshop Day, Hailey’s first prom and book releases. And I’ve loved all of those but I’m also dealing with a medium-sized bout of depression that I’m hoping will just hover and pass soon rather than stay. It’s light enough that I can still function and enjoy life but numbing enough that I wish I could pause these good moments so that I could feel them fully as they are meant to be felt. I surreptitiously record these plays and moments so that the future me who will one day wake up from this fog can appreciate them fully. This sounds insane, I know, but I suspect if you’ve dealt with depression you might understand.
This weekend Victor got tickets for us to see Tori Amos in concert. Tori is probably my favorite performer ever (the person who got me through so many bad teen breakups and hard, lonely times). The fact that Victor owned a Tori Amos CD when we met was a giant contributing factor to me giving him a go, and the first concert we ever went to together was Tori, decades ago.
So it was very sweet when Victor surprised me with tickets for us and for Hailey and their partner and I immediately didn’t want to go and began making every excuse to cancel.
When I’m in a depression I can’t listen to music. It literally hurts because I know the emotions a normal person would feel and the cognitive dissonance of not feeling those emotions makes the depression even more obvious, and the idea of a concert of emotional songs that I won’t be able to appreciate was something I was not looking forward to, and honestly if Hailey and their sweetheart weren’t already excited about it I probably would have just begged off.
But we went, and luckily I’m still at that high-functioning level of medium depression where I have access to most of my energy, even though my emotions are turned down to a muffled sort of noise, and as she started to sing I felt so incredibly lucky to be at a wonderful event with people I love and so incredibly bad about not being able to fully appreciate it and so incredibly selfish for having so very much and not having the ability to live in that moment with the joy that it should have been afforded.
And then a few songs in Tori sang Bouncing on Clouds and I don’t know if it was the music or the moment or a synapsis in my brain spasming or a boost of serotonin from the depression gods, but suddenly I felt something.
She sang, “Is there a lone lost-and-found? Make it easy…we could make this easy…it’s not as heavy as it seems. I think we decide where we take our lives” and I felt it in my heart. And I cried. I cried so much and I was so thankful that Hailey and their partner were sitting behind us and that my mask covered most of my face and that the music was so loud that no one could hear me sobbing so loudly.
I cried for lost time and I cried for joy at coming so far and I cried from an incredible relief at being able to cry and feel, and I cried for how selfish I feel for being depressed even when I’m so lucky, and I cried for thinking it’s selfish to be honest about battling a debilitating disease.
I don’t know where it came from, but afterward I felt clean and like I’d finally put down a heavy weight I’d been carrying. And I thought, I need to write about this now while the memory is still bright, but I also can’t write well when I’m in a depression and I worried (I still worry) that I won’t find the right words. So I stayed quiet.
And then a fellow treatment-resistant depression sufferer who I have admired lost her battle. And I saw people saying, “But why? She had everything. She was just about to go back on tour and accept a giant award” and I had people reach out to me to say, “Sometimes it’s like we’re slowing being picked off” and I see others online saying, “Check on your friends even if they seem happy!” and all of those are valid things but the ignore the fact that we win more than we lose. Even when we battle depression, or cancer, or abuse or a million other things that try to take us out, we fight and win and love and are loved. Every battle won is a victory and every wonderful memory is golden and worthwhile, regardless of how it all ends. We fight and we love and we wait for the world to come back and each time that is worth celebrating. It is worthwhile. It’s easy to paint people by their last actions, but remember that they are so much more than that. They are more than what they battle. They are more than just their struggle. And you are too. And if you are reading this it means that you have lived. And I’m so glad for it. Right now. Right this second. I’m happy that we are here together. Even if we’ve never met, know that you are not alone. Know that if you’ve lost someone to the darkness they were more than their end. Know that if you are thinking dark thoughts it’s okay to reach out…to friends or family or crisis lines or therapists. And if they don’t understand or you think they don’t care, remember that depression tells you terrible lies and keep fighting. Even if you feel alone right this moment I promise that there would be an empty spot in life without your light. There are future friends who can’t wait to meet you so they will feel less alone as well. There will be a time when you come out of the darkness and can breathe again and all of this will look so strange to your eyes.
And until then, I’ll wait in the lone lost-and-found with you. Quietly. But there. Waiting for the music to work again. Because all of these moments are worth it.