Sometimes I understand why people want to give up. Every year that I get older, life seems harder and harder. And that’s coming from a person with extreme privilege. This morning as I walked my kids to school, sweating and tired and dazed, I had to stop for a minute because I was sincerely baffled that a full 24 hours had elapsed since the day before when I did exactly the same thing. And the day before that, and the day before that and the day before that.
Years ago, I read a piece by Joan Didion-I don’t remember which one it was-that talked about how much a person misses the mundane after a tragedy. How you long for the routine of making coffee, brushing teeth, cleaning up dishes and picking up shoes. And I try really hard to focus on that in these redundant moments of my life. Especially when with my kids. How grateful I should be to get to walk those fifteen minutes to school every day with them. How grateful I should be to make them breakfast each morning and pick up their shoes and watch them make silly faces at each other, collapsing again and again in a fit of kindergarten giggles. And sitting here now, typing this out, I feel grateful. I feel lucky to have precious moments to watch them learn and grow and move through the world. I genuinely do.
For a long time, several years at least, I have wanted to write about depression on this blog. But the truth is, I’m a coward. I’m too afraid of what people will think of me. If I admit what haunts me, what has haunted me most of my life. Because for some reason it feels shameful. More shameful than admitting my need for insulin, or my worry and insecurity about my children. Writing about mental illness makes me feel naked. Sweaty and hot. Completely and entirely exposed. And so I kept putting it off. And there was and there is a piece floating around in my head that is desperate to get out. I want to say it. I want to write it. But I’m so scared. I feel guilty because I wonder if me saying it, me writing it, would maybe maybe maybe help someone else feel less ashamed. But the truth is, I remain a coward.
Perhaps I will dip my toe in. Just a centimeter. Virginia Woolf writes about depression (and I am paraphrasing here) as the realization not that you are lonely, but that you plus all other people are lonely. Perfectly stated. Because if it were just the realization that I am sad and despairing and lonely, then I could look around at this beautiful world around me and feel reinvigorated and re-energized. But depression is the gut punching acceptance that there is nothing to redeem you. We are all excruciatingly alone.
This is the point in the blog where I should see the light. Where I should turn it all around for my kids, for my family, for the planet that is so kind and beautiful. And in a sense, I feel that. I’ve quoted this before, but it remains one of my favorite sentiments. Samuel Beckett writes at the end of The Unnamable “You must go on.” “I can’t go on.” “I will go on.”
I must go on. And so, I will go on.