Occasionally I feel like I somehow slipped into some horrible altered reality in the past year in which our president is horrible, the news is horrible, people keep doing awful violent things and the planet and everyone is dying. (these things related and completely unrelated but still all happening at the same time. ) In a sci-fi show, this would be the alternate timeline that the heroine/hero has to go back in time to avoid. The cautionary tale. Saved at the final moment by some swerve in fate.
I've been thinking a lot, given the 20 year anniversary of the worst bout of depression I was every afflicted with, about mental states and saving graces, the dark and the light. Twenty years ago, to the day, I was very likely sitting in my apartment in the dark and crying as I would be for about a month straight. ---a mix of factors--uncertainly about the teaching career trajectory I was about to abandon, terrible, debilitating anxiety about that and other things, a particulalry uninspiring semester if grad school. general loneliness of moving to an entirely new place the previous summer, the usual dose of seasonal affective yuckiness. All of them combined in a cocktail that I hope never to experience again. Around Valentines Day in 1998 with my parents, I stood in the Lincoln Park conservatory, snapping pictures of of flowers, so many flowers, and realized I was going to be okay. It would all work out (and of course it truly did, better than I even imagined.) Maybe it was purely cured by those flowers, pink and red and all that lushness. Maybe it was just hormonal or chemical and it went away as quickly as it had come on.
I've never been seriously suicidal, not even then. And never probably would be barring some horrible illness that would eventually kill me anyway. A friend and I joke occasionally about bowing out before age has a chance to ravage us, but these are mostly nervous conversations spawned by watching older people, like my mother, dwindle away slowly and horribly and who would want to do that when you can just bow out gracefully at around 65? But then I also imagine myself final girling it all the way til the end..or getting to 65, even 70, and not feeling ready at all to end things. I mean, even though it's 27 years away, 27 years ago, I was 16, and that seems like barely a blink in time . Surely not enough.
In her last weeks, my mother, almost maddeningly so at 70 , insisted she had lived a good long life, and that she was done. I would assure that she was fine, and getting better, and nothing was really going to take her out yet. I even believed it at first. Ultimately, I was wrong. In those last weeks, as my own certainty of that faltered, I wanted very badly to run away. Though of getting on trains to New Orleans and California and even planes (it had to be bad if I considered getting on planes, which mostly terrify me). But even the crash that surely would happen as soon as I stepped on a flight would be preferable to how I was feeling at the moment I considered it. It's lessened over the months since, but even now it occasionally resurfaces--that need to flee, though I'm not sure what there is to flee from. But what scares me sometimes is the tenuousness of how I felt in those months--sometimes it was not merely leaving, but of throwing myself over the side of the Michigan Ave bridge, over the railings of the Fine Arts stairwells, down an open elevator shaft. Not suicidal ideation, really, because I don't really want to die. But an escape from something. Gone as quickly as it occurred to me, like a sudden whim to die my hair blue, but disturbing nonetheless.
And all kind of ridiculous and because mostly I deeply enjoy my life and do not want to run away from it. I occasionally fancy moving to a warmer climate, but only if I could take everything and everyone with me. I love my apartment, the people in my life, even my day job mostly. My studio and the press and writing and art and all that jazz. Sometimes, I wish I were more financially stable, but I do alot to undermine that stability in the form of takeout and pretty dresses, so I've no one to blame but me. There have been eddies and pools of badness in the past 20 years but mostly whenever I start to circle the drain, I can pull myself out of it with a little centering. I can deal with or at least sidestep, the anxiety issues before they spiral into other, darker things. And maybe we are all just doing that, final girl-ing it til the end.
But this past year has felt rougher than usual, and I sit here reading about shithole presidents and ballistic missle drills in Hawaii it appears to stay steady in it's roughness..like my heroine missing a couple fingers and dragging her broken leg behind her, but still keeps going..