Friday, January 2, 2015

Oh, New Year

With the new year came a hazy depression. Sinking and intimidating. The baby slept beside me in his cradle on New Year's Eve, while my husband tried (unsuccessfully) to get Moses to sleep. Finally, near ten or eleven, Moses climbed into bed beside me, curled up and fell to sleep--his tiny body like a pillow of heat. A bit later my husband lay down beside us and I recall the soft crackle of distant fireworks in the night.

The first of the year I went running with a friend. Mid-morning, we jogged beside the lake. I looked down at the cracked pieces of ice floating along shore as we crossed a footbridge. The sky was a mix of blue and cloud, not gray. Not that sinking, dimensionless gray so common to Vermont winters. Afterwards we inspected the new paint in her bathroom and then I drove home and ate fried eggs.

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The baby's perfect skin surprises me. The pink blush of his cheeks, the clear blue and white of his eyes, the downy fluff on his infant head. I like to kiss his cheeks; I like to coax his smile. His newness, an aberration against the pool of my own warn skin.

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How not to feel pain. How not to fall into melodrama. How not to become a dramatic explosion of wild pity. The heavy lidded sky of this feeling, this coarse mood, lowers itself and I feel the wave that wants to drown. But having lived this long beside such seas, I have my tricks.

The thing about depression is that it moves like grief, surprising us. The thing about me is that I only get depressed in the winter and usually just as the light begins its slow return.

This morning I was alone with the baby and he screamed and screamed. I could not figure out what was wrong. I wrapped him close and pressed our cheeks together. I smelled him and then set him back in his seat but he was not having it and started in again. I carried him around and around for a while. I bounced him. I tried to nurse him, to coo at him, to shush him to sleep.

It is like this with depression. All the work of trying to keep it quiet exhausts me. The disease takes root in isolation--a language of isolation. People will say, it gets better, it will go away, it will be OK, or (dreadfully) they will offer advice: why don't you run, do yoga, try these vitamins, eat like this or that, drink more tea or water, don't eat this, and so on. The problem, of course, is that the depressed person feels hopelessly defeated and sees no possibility of not feeling this awful nagging angst, coated in the lingering fear of one's own end or the end of loved ones.

This paper cut that won't stop aching.

Though it does pass, while you are under the wave, it feels like drowning and thus in this compromised position the depressed person has a hard time believing it will. Believing in the shore, believing in some sort of salvation of the spirit.

On the other hand, what is more annoying then this self pity and self squandering?

Today the wind felt vicious, vindictive, as I walked with the baby.

I think of a white goose. I think of a golden egg. I think of frozen water broken into small islands that crash into each other (again and again) as the wind rushes and the wave pummels shore. I think of the distance of time and the fact that my grandfather's twin sister died two days ago, the last child of his family to die. And how odd that now this entire childhood family has left the earth just as someday mine will too. Someday none of the four of us will be here and yet tonight here we are in this apartment with the cold winter slipping in, the soft song playing on the stereo, the baby's hungry cry, Moses asleep in his bed, my bare feet pressed into the wood floor beneath my desk, cold, cold, the sound of my husband's voice as he comforts the baby, the tingle in my breast as the milk comes in.


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