I generally exist more on the anxiety side of the unstable moods spectrum but recently I’ve been spending a bit more time depressed. Maybe the shift was because the early part of my life was so heavily characterized by depression and suicidal idealization that I’ve kind of figured out how to deal with it a bit more expertly than my anxiety. It’s worth reminding you in case you’re new, unfamiliar, or have forgotten: I do not have a mood disorder. I say this because dealing with depression when you have a mood disorder isn’t fucking easy or simple. So while I may be able to peel myself out of my less common bouts of apathy and hopelessness, that’s not the case for everyone who deals with depression-related issues.
Anyway. Now that I’ve cleared that up.
In one of my recent depressive episodes, I told my partner I was depressed and proceeded to crawl back into bed. My love is a wonderful person but sometimes not incredibly helpful when it comes to matters of unstable emotions – so he ignored me and played some video games. Knowing that it was up to me to pull myself out of this funk, I forced myself out of bed, walked over to Nicholas, and closed his laptop.
“We’re going to the pumpkin patch,” I declared. And in one of his many unbelievable displays of patience, he acquiesced.
I drove to the patch. When we pulled into the lot, I apparently parked crooked. When Nicholas told me so, I lost my shit on him.
“If you’re going to let me drive, then let me fucking drive!” I screeched at him. “I fucking hate when you do shit like this.”
Following my blow up, we silently proceeded towards the semi-crowded farm. As we walked silently, I took in my surroundings and saw how happy everyone was here. All these families and couples and children and dogs and smiles and laughter and fragile humans and hopeless dreams and pointless lives and and and
Feeling myself spiraling, the waves of emotions rolling through the autumn air, I stopped dead in my tracks. Nicholas was saying something about going through the market but his voice seemed far away. I muttered that we should just go home, swallowing down tears, trying to keep my shit together and not scare the children. Nick asked me what was wrong. Before a sob escaped my throat, I told him, “There’s no sunflowers.” He pulled me to him and just like that, I was bawling right next to some poor old guy who couldn’t leave because I had lost my shit right next to his pumpkin weighing station. Not a lot of words came out of me for a minute or two as I just cried and cried and cried, the hot tears dampening my mask and fogging up my glasses. There was no stopping the tears. Nicholas simply held me until I croaked, “I want to sit by some pumpkins.”
And so we walked, hand in hand, and I muttered an embarrassed apology about snapping at him when I was parking. He brushed it off as he always does. We reached the pumpkin field and I plopped my melancholy self down next to some orange gourds. I realized that this corner is where the sunflowers used to be, before they died. I came too late.
Nicholas inexplicably snapped the shot of me that I used as this post’s featured image. For all the times I’ve ever begged him to take a picture of me, the one time he did it unbidden was immediately following me crying my eyes out for several minutes in the midst of an uncaring crowd. What a weirdo. I took a few deep calming breaths and caressed the pumpkins at my feet, feeling their earthen energy absorbing my darkness and giving me peace in return without ever asking for anything in return.
Words returned to me. I told Nicholas how the sunflowers were silly, but the whole reason I had wanted to come to this particular farm was because they were supposed to have an incredible sunflower field. I had gotten this idea in my head that if I saw those sunflowers, everything would be okay. But when I realized they weren’t here, I also realized that everything was not okay. The world is not okay. And I’m not okay.
I began to tell Nicholas all this, knowing I had to let it out. I confessed to him that it was obviously deeper than sunflowers – I had a moment of terror and uncertainty about the pandemic and how every expenditure out of the hotel room meant hyper vigilance about what I touch, constant hand sanitizer, and prayers that being outdoors with masks means I won’t be exposed to infectious respiratory particles. Thinking about the kids living through this and how their mental development is being permanently disturbed by this pandemic makes my heart heavy. And yet, at least they’re alive, right? Unlike Eric, who wouldn’t get another Halloween. The unfairness of life, the chaos of it, was crushing me. I broke again now, fishing my tissues out of my bag to try and combat the endless tears and mucus. Nicholas stood by quietly as I let the rest of my overwhelm wring itself out. After this round of sobbing ceased, I gave myself a final wipe down as some random kid walked within like, two feet of me (“Read the room, my dude, go look at other fuckin’ pumpkins,” I grumbled to Nicholas). I took the deepest breath I had all day. Nick looked down at me and asked, “Feel better?” And I nodded.
To be able to cry is a blessing, really. The worst kind of depression is when you feel emotionally vacant. There’s shit in there, surely – after all, half an hour prior as I lethargically scrolled Instagram, I certainly felt void of feeling – but that kind of emotional constipation can be hard to soften sometimes. There’s no Miralax for the soul.
“I want cider,” I told Nicholas. “And donuts.”
So we got some and life went on.
Because that’s all there is to be done sometimes. Just keep living. I missed sunflower season. I can’t control COVID-19. The kids will be alright. And Eric is dead. These are all things that as upset as I get about them, I can’t do anything about any of them. Except cry, accept my powerlessness, and eat donuts.
As usual, sugar picked up my mood a little. And I was able to shake off my depression and actually enjoy myself. I serve no one by staying depressed. So since I was able to let it go, I did. We went on a haunted hayride. It was too expensive but it was nice to laugh. Despite the plexiglass and masks, for five minutes I felt normal.
It was nice to just exist with Nicholas for a little bit. Especially being back on the road and thousands of miles away from all my family and friends. Back to isolation. At least I’m not truly alone, though.
We walked around and looked at weird pumpkins. I picked one out and I named it “Friend”. We bought a pie and took the long way home so we could enjoy the fall colors. And by the time I got back home, I was back to normal. Emotional homeostasis established. Because I knew that if I just stayed in bed and stared at my phone all day, I would have had no chance at feeling better. Sometimes you have to force yourself to do something in the hopes that it breaks your depression like an emotional fever. And if you end up sobbing in the middle of a pumpkin patch, well, at least you’re alive.