I am building a character out of my depression and your name was the first to come to mind. Right now, It’s 9:11PM on Thursday evening and I am in bed. I dreamt about climbing under my covers all day and now that I’m here, I actually have a moment to sit with my thoughts.
One comes to mind rather quickly–the fact that you’ve been acting up the last two weeks. I’m not sure if you sync up with the full moon’s cycle or it’s the weather driving you to behave in such dismal ways, but you’re giving me a reason to dip into my supply of Clonapin which is actually a “downer”. At least it makes me feel like I’m in a dream floating on air and immune to the energies of others. Perhaps I’ve been around too many people over the last several days. Maybe I’m pushing myself too hard to do all these exciting things and you’re promptly setting off alarms to warn me I’m doing too much.
Which is it? Why do we have to play this game where one day I feel completely in control and the next I am fighting the urge to crawl out of my skin? Because that’s how you make me feel sometimes–inadequate, unintelligent, uncomfortable and restless yet utterly exhausted. I look back on all of these great and wonderful things I’ve accomplished and I feel nothing. Rather, the excitement of some new venture is short-lived. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve cried over the last year and from my psychiatrist’s perch, he thinks this is good.
But I like to test you sometimes. Push your limits a bit. Forget to take my medication for two days just so I am reminded of the old times when we used to have so much fun in my mind and get so creative it was borderline mania. We’d just write and fill up notebooks and sketch and dream and then I’d cry because I was feeling something. But then, my mom notices my prescription bottle and checks how many pills are left because she knows me and my “moth to a flame” mentality. She knows I’ll double my Clonapin dosage on a Tuesday if I’m feeling extra anxious and that I’ll sit at work and try to unravel the mysteries surrounding mental illness while being unproductive in terms of my tasks related to my actual job.
Because doesn’t everyone dealing with mental illness have an Emmaline? The thing we try and suppress but miss dearly at times, as if you’re a part of us, because you kind of are. We’ve learned to make space for you at the dinner table and invite you out with our friends or significant others. You’re our excuse when we can’t pick up the phone or have very little urge to speak to anyone or go out into the world. You’re the friend who knows our darkest secrets, every scar, every memory we try to wash away with either countless therapy sessions or a bottle of wine.
There’s that saying, “Pick your poison.” On days like today when it’s rainy and blustery and my coat is soaked through the liner, I like picking you, Emmaline. I like knowing you’re still around and lurking in the shadows I once feared, that you won’t ever leave me because you are, in fact, a huge part of why I keep going. In darkness, dear Emmaline, you showed me I was able to rise from the ashes anew and carry on despite my depression. You showed me I could use my depression as a tool to help others suffering and how I could be a depressive but still function “normally” (whatever that means these days).
Even when I am inconsistent in my pill intake, which is rarely, you don’t invite me to fall down the rabbit hole but instead encourage me to use that thin space in time to devour myself in my blog posts or drawing or other artistic endeavor. For this, I am grateful to you, even when you’re acting up because I know it’s for a reason. You are, in essence, the annoying sister I never had.
So today, I am choosing you, Emmaline. I am choosing to give you a name and identify you as an ally rather than enemy. I am offering you up as a presenter of possibilities rather than confining you to a stigma. I’m not sure why I chose “Emmaline”, but I’ve always imagined you with a name from another time period, perhaps a young rebel rouser who refused to wear pantaloons underneath her petticoats but went to church on Sunday mornings and volunteered at the nearest Red Cross.
Because depression, in its entirety, has an equal amount of darkness and light kind of like the rest of humanity. And so, you are born and you will remain something close to me for as long as I live. And to be perfectly honest, you’re welcome to hang out here whenever it’s warranted. You bring the inspiration. I’ll bring wine.
In love and light,
Your host Brianna