News From the Lighthouse She Lived in a ShoeWed 07 December 2016 by Sherry
Lighthouse energy. That’s what I’ve always called it. Long periods of dark silence followed by intense bursts of energy. It could also be called depression. I’ve touched on it here, but in my mind, the question has always been, is it better to reveal the full extent of it, or to just continue to appear as a flake? I don’t know that I like either of the options. I am empty and lost and defeated. Gather Can’t seem to write my way out of it, or shoot my way out of it, or sleep my way out of it. It’s waking up one morning and being unable to make eye contact with your life anymore. It’s an experience I first become familiar with in my preteen years…and one that never went away.
Two weeks ago started another of those long periods of darkness…where the world has narrowed to a sort of tunnel vision, interrupted only by the rapid heartbeat of panic. Reality contracts down to a point and peripheral vision disappears. Until it passes, everything else falls away into the darkness. What energy I can find will be used to meet the needs of the children. There will be nothing else possible. In the middle of that total sensory deprivation, all my scattered focus will be connected to the struggle to press down the panic that crawls under my skin, and the waiting…waiting until the light swings around again and sends it’s blinding light out across the waters setting you back into motion.
Two weeks ago, the world was filled with promise, but somewhere between that time and now, I lost the plot of my life. Depression often comes on in the most random of ways. There is no planning for it, often no event that you can trace it back to. It happens for no particular reason other than my brain does not efficiently produce or use certain chemicals as it should, in much the same way as my father’s diabetic system failed to manufacture insulin, and medicating the brain has elements of subjectivity that cannot be controlled for.
As a result, daily life for me has the added excitement of hidden trap doors that might open underneath you at any given moment. And suddenly the world goes dark, disappears as you are lost in an underground labyrinth, ripped from the sunlight and normalcy of the goals and plans that you had your sights set on. Hope for a particular life can disappear as the light of intention suddenly goes out and the previously exciting discourse in the story of your life can turn into a narrative of monotony and indifference. Or, even worse, a totally blank page, overnight, as though somebody had jarringly pasted the contents of two entirely different books haphazardly together.
These days, it happens less. I don’t spend all my time in this deceitful garden of lies, but nowadays, the most important priority becomes protecting the children from the effects of my state, and I’ve largely been successful I think. They often don’t know that it’s happening to me at all. That a robot has taken my place until I can get back from the suffocation of the sound-proof room I am trapped in just below the surface. But too, there are times when I wonder if I’ve become entirely too successful. I don’t know whether to be alarmed at their utter lack of responsiveness to the changes in me or proud to know I’ve kept it from entering their existence at all.
But that still leaves me here, and although my ability to tolerate this state of hopelessness has grown over the years and I know intellectually that it is a temporary state, I still wonder…”Is this as good as it gets?”
I hope is isn’t, but hope is a tenuous thing in the midst of the chemical brain storm that is chronic depression and there is always a moment when I think, maybe it won’t get better. Maybe I’ve started down the slippery slope to the end of forever.
And living alongside this unproductive state of despair is envy. I am jealous. I admit it. Deeply, deeply jealous of the world that I can see on the other side of the glass and I so want to join that world of connection and achievement and productivity…but here I am, drowning in panic and fear trying to remember how to breathe, tooling with medication, taking my eyes off the ball because I need a little brain salad surgery. Because I think I can’t do anything. At all. Ever…and baby-stepping my shaky self through the day exhausts all my energy.
While those lucky citizens who live unencumbered in the world were being created for success and fashioned so that routine achievement was the natural landscape of their lives, I had already become a haunted child who stayed up all night when the house was empty and quiet, and slept all day to shut out the unmanageable chaos that seemed to prevent ever planning ahead. I had already learned only to survive in the immediate moment. Plans for the future seem irrelevant when you don’t think you’ll make it through the next moment.
I want to live outside the window, rather than just observe it. I want to finally break through the immovable permafrost, the frozen land of my heart and it’s ice cold panic. I want to believe I am enough. I want to breathe without having to think about it. I want…