Once I was in an elevator and I sighed. It feels good to sigh, it feels honest, and I’d managed to forget that, and so I did it. There was one other person in the elevator with me, and I didn’t know her. She looked at me and said, “Oh, come on, it can’t be that bad!” She was smiling in a crooked, nervous way, as though I might attack her, which, to be honest, I wanted to. When did it become acceptable to evaluate a stranger’s emotional life based on their random noises? “I was just sighing,” I told her, and then I stared hard at the elevator doors until they opened and I could gratefully escape.
Maybe she was trying to rescue me, the stranger in the elevator, I don’t know. Maybe she thought I needed to talk about whatever it was that was pushing on my lungs so hard that it came out in the air between us, maybe she thought I was desperate enough to talk to someone I didn’t know about it, or maybe she thought there was safety in that anonymity. There have been many days lately when I’ve wished for someone to tell everything to, someone who has not heard it before, someone I don’t even know.
On Saturday night, M and E staged an intervention. I’d already been at their apartment for hours, so it lacked the drama of walking into a room full of sobbing loved ones about to implore you to change your destructive behavior. I’m not even sure they would call it an intervention, or that they meant to do it, but suddenly, M said, “You know this isn’t your fault, right?”, and it was on.
M says there will be something called Change Day, when I will wake up and be ready to consider the possibilities and take steps towards them. To me, this sounds a lot like the moment you realize you are over someone you’ve been in love with for a long time, but can’t be with in the same anymore. You actually are sick of the way you feel, there’s no longer anything charming or sexy in the wallowing, somehow, it’s no longer necessary.
We believe all sorts of horrible things about ourselves. You might say I excel at this. I’ve spent the last six months looking for signs, omens, patterns, anything that could signify the direction I’m supposed to take, but maybe the context I’ve been looking in-despair and self loathing-is not the right one. Until M suggested it, I hadn’t considered the legitimacy of telling myself different stories about myself and my ability to be a smart, functional personal in the world, because I’ve started thinking of those stories as lies. This is depression, up close, unflinching, when you literally cannot think yourself out of the crap, only further into it. For me, there’s such a vulnerability in that space-the sound of someone else’s voice and the fact that it sounds nothing like my own is so refreshing and full of potential, even when what they’re saying feels impossible to believe.