Dancing with Depression

I didn’t date in this town because I couldn’t afford to leave it. I needed a break from intoxicating comfort and pleasure. I needed to build some inner momentum. And for that I needed to stay put. Break-ups always ruin a place for me, make me run away. So I didn’t date because I couldn’t stand to lose someone.

But then I lost someone anyways. That was unexpected. Friends seem safe. Without romance they usually don’t leave. Unless they do, unless they pass away, and as safe as you tried to be, your heart is broken anyways.

I questioned my intuition the last few weeks, which screamed at me to reach out, and I did. I called, we talked. I sensed a loneliness, asked if he had enough people to see. He said, “Sure.” But did I listen deep enough? To him? To my intuition? These questions always come. Regrets, doubts. 

But I don’t doubt my devotion. I am very sure I told him how important he was to me, throughout our friendship, over and over, in our subtle, sarcastic way, which I’m very sure he understood regardless. I’m sure he knew. My devotion was not an issue.

I understood that he understood depression, because we understood each other. And you can only feel so close, so raw, so seen by someone who understands the depths you’ve dipped. But his went deeper, he assured me. Upon his experience I was innocent, buoyant. That’s why he could always float me, and why I could never fathom him.

That’s why I couldn’t know, until after, what his detached tone meant. A maturation, a total acceptance of a depression. Acceptance to the point of surrender. Or I’m assuming. 

So I was broken in a way I hadn’t been in years. In a way I had done everything to avoid. All my discipline, all my impulse control, all my blocks and walls and focus. Friends were supposed to be safe. 

I got reckless for a couple days. “Fuck-it” was my mantra. It felt so good. I hadn’t had a case of the “fuck-its” in a while. I cried hard, surfed wild, drank tequila on the beach, woke up, drank coffee, went to work a little drunk, cried, surfed, ate out, downloaded a dating app, and cut off all the tags on my pillows under “penalty of the law.” I felt close to him. He would have been proud.

When I surfaced I looked around my town in despair. Nothing felt good. I didn’t want to be here. Heartbreak makes me want to run away. Depression tints all light. 

Finally I crashed. I cancelled work. I slept and slept, because in my bed was the only place I wanted to be. I’d been resisting out of fear of depression. But rest was the self care I needed, it didn’t mean defeat. I was just sad, exhausted. If I didn’t let grief knock me out and take me down, if I kept pushing, if I feared it, then depression would take hold.

I realized that we are a different breed, those that feel things so deeply. Those of us prone to exhaustion, depression. We cannot grind the mill the same as the others, without pause, without reflection, without reset. And god do we try. That is always the goal. Get better, get healthy, get stable, and then slip in line with the rest of the go-getters. Shame on your sensitivity.

We trick ourselves too. When we are strong and charged, we think we are finally ready to be “normal”, and we dig ourselves into “normal” trenches. We commit to things we think we want, because it’s what we’re told we want. We get houses, we get debt, we get pets. My friend got a dog. He needed to travel, needed to move, but instead he dug in deeper. Which is not what our breed needs. We cannot be trapped. We need freedom. At least in some sense of the word. But again, I’m assuming…

This heartbreak is a gift, though. It feels sick to find silver linings in tragedy, but through this dip, I realize why I am so stable. Because I have built my life around my limitations. I’ve made my mental health the priority, and I haven’t committed to anything that cannot accommodate it. If I need rest, I take rest. If I need to start work at noon for a morning run, I schedule work at noon. He has reminded me that I need to stop when I need to stop. The alternative is not acceptable for the life I want to live.

So this week I have had no shame. His passing is a force of nature, empowering me. I’ve said “fuck-it” to work and schedules and structures that don’t support me right now. Right now I need to feel the full force of this thing, and fuck any obligation that doesn’t agree. Fuck any norm that gets in the way of this process. Fuck any culture that says that sadness should be stuffed, and depression should be ignored. Fuck relationships that can’t stand vulnerability. And fuck standards that break mental health, that take away my friends.

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