By an act of genius and the Internet, I’m live watching one of my favorite people perform at a local venue in Waltham, MA. Watching him play is so damn joyful, and I’m full of tears.
This weekend, one of my closest people left me a message on my voicemail saying that she was thinking of me. Sending me love. Hearing her gentle, loving voice was so damn joyful. Tonight, when I tried to return the call, my message was full of tears.
Today, my sister-in-law and brother took the day off work to spend time with their eldest- my niecelet M. There’s a Facebook video of her dribbling a soccer ball around a set of cones before kicking it solidly into the goal. A video of her flanked by the two of them; three smiling faces. And, my favorite, a pic of her and my brother – his soft smile and hers full on and wide. I can feel their joy through the photograph. Seeing it when I arrived home brought me to tears.
Joy and tears.
My repetition tonight is not hyperbole. It’s my daily reality. I imagine, it’s a reality for many of us.
Since November 27, 2016 I’ve been struggling. For a long while I thought it was situational: one minute I’m grading 30 term papers and the next I’m coming out of the ER being told that a doctor I’d barely met removed a rare appendiceal tumor that was spurting mucoceles into my body cavity. And, P.S. you have to wait at least six months before we know if you’re okay. Yay. So, yes, at first I thought that my struggle to “get up and go” was situational. Tumor situational. It would pass.
But then there were two months of healing and quiet and reflection and chronic abdominal pain (which, no, still hasn’t quit). Multiple doctors visits. Multiple tests. No answers save, “You’re fat. Lose some weight. That will help.”
I mean, not you, but rather the medical system that sees obesity as the sole problem and solution. Yes, being overweight isn’t the best for overall health. But, no, I didn’t have abdominal pain until 5 days after surgery on my abdomen. So fuck the “lose weight” diagnosis. I thought the sadness was situational: western-medicine-hell situational. I quit that medical system and sought alternative care. I tried to lose weight. Eating two to three meals a day. Getting my steps in. Sleeping as best I can – often with heating pads and Tylenol. Still, sad. I thought it was situational. I thought it would pass
I threw myself into work as much as possible. Sometimes standing in class rubbing my side to dull the sharp pains; an attempt to focus. I launched into analyses and papers and research projects. Because when I wasn’t working or walking I was in pain. I worried about “what if?” I got stuck on “what else” (yes, beyond tumor and chronic pain); a separation turning to divorce, mounting medical bills, and financial distress. To dull the physical pain I turned to wine. To dull the unceasing thoughts I began wining regularly. It didn’t help. Being buzzed dulled the physical pain – after a bottle. But then I was drinking one and a bit. One and a half. One and a what-the-hell-I-should-finish-it… Two bottles. I was in pain and sad. Sad and in pain. And so I wondered if it was situational – alcohol dependent drunk situational.
I got sober. I stopped turning to wine as a solution and began looking inward while moving outward. Eating (somewhat regularly). Getting those steps. Sleeping-ish. Working. Still working. Always working. I’ve began reading HuffPo stories about other people’s struggles with depression, and what others wish their loved ones knew about their depression. I thought that if I read about it and thought about it and tried working through it that it would change. It was situational, right? The product of tumor and pain and unraveling wedding vows and debt and wine.
But the rollercoaster that is my brain’s physiology hasn’t stopped. I’ve not talked about it much. Alluded to the struggle in a blog post or two. But I’ve not talked about it honestly. Laid it out.
I felt joy listening to my friend sing tonight.
I felt joy hearing my bestie share her love with me.
I felt joy seeing the beauties that are my brother, sis-in-law, and niecelet.
I cried tonight because I want to see him sing live again in person.
I cried tonight because I want to sit in a room with her, to share stories and love.
I cried tonight because I can’t image not seeing their smiles and wrapping each of them in my arms again.
Several times since November 27, 2016 I’ve considered and been compelled to give up. Not give up school. Give up life. Not because I hate myself. Not because I think there’s no hope. But because in this brain of mine the sadness tells me that giving up makes sense. It makes sense to not want to wake up. To just keep sleeping. For it to be slow and easy. To give life up under a blanket of white wine and pills.
But it’s not slow and easy. And the thought of white wine and pills doesn’t make me happier. Nor relieved.
It makes me cry.
Because “under a blanket of white wine and pills” wouldn’t allow me to hear their voices, see their smiles, nor feel their love. Nor would they hear my voice, nor see my smiles, nor feel my love for them.
It may be selfish to want to see and hear and feel love from them. But that’s what kicks in the tears. I want to see and hear and feel. I want to be seen, to be heard, and to be felt. That want reminds me of the joys, kicks in the tears, and keeps the blanket off the bed.
I haven’t been honest this year. I’m sad. I’m sad every day. I have been since November 27, 2016. But I’m here. I’m breathing. I’m thankful for the joys that come my way. For the memories they kick in. For the desires they kick in. For the tears they kick in. Feeling happy feels a long way off. But, if I can feel situational joy, that’s enough.
(Plus therapy, alternative medicine, my oncologist, sleep, exercise, eating healthy food, time with friends and family, and dog cuddles. I’m doing these things too – to the best of my ability. I promise.)