Some Say Depression, It Is a River

*Written in late January*

A few weeks ago, I heard a story about a girl who can ask her deceased father for guidance before she goes to sleep, and without fail he appears in her dreams.

I was so jealous.

That night,I laid in bed and wept, begging Mom to show up for me. I have ached for her advice. 

This past summer, Dad and I spent a blissful day playing with my niece down by the river. He gave her the safety speech I have heard countless times- the most important part of which is to “never fight the current”.  

For those of you who didn’t grow up with a dad with all the survival tips, here’s one for ya: when you’ve been swept away by the river, in a moment of panic you may choose to fight against the water, trying to get to the bank. All you will accomplish in doing so is exhausting yourself- with little progress to even show for it. It sounds counterintuitive, BUT if you give in to the current and allow the river to take you, it will naturally move you in towards the shore. 

If you’ve read a single post from me, Y’all already KNOW this is gonna be a metaphor.

I’ve been sad. Really sad.

Since the beginning of December, I’ve been wandering aimlessly through time, staring at my phone, doing only the things I absolutely have to do and nothing else. No reaching out, texting only when contacted first, I barely even want to talk to my dad at home. I’ve gone still. 

Depression runs deep in the family. I know what it looks like, I’ve had dips into it myself… yet even with this knowledge of myself, I’ve been exhausted trying to fight the thought that my depression is back and in control right now. 

I haven’t been aware of this happening, even. My brain determinedly, adamantly found other reasons for my recent mood and behavior. I even researched the symptoms of anemia thinking that could be it!!

Perhaps I’ve vaguely questioned whether this was the problem from time to time for the past several weeks, but today I looked out the window at the gorgeous sunny, snowy day outside and I thought “I know I should want to go out there but I just don’t. Oh… SHIT.” 

Admitting to myself that I am depressed right now somehow turned on the light in my head- I finally recognized the behaviors I’ve been displaying for what they really are- fighting the current and getting NOWHERE. 

Prolonging my own struggle back to shore. 

The confusing thing about depression is that can come from somewhere… or it can come from nowhere. 

I think my current state is the product of a lot of things- the worst breakup I’ve ever had, getting covid and the guilt and shame of having to tell people close to me, fear that I may have made them sick, the loneliness and helplessness of quarantining (during which I did nothing but grieve said ex-boyfriend), then the start of a new job…

I thought maybe that would help. Instead, it made me more sad. When I wasn’t taking steps to establish direction and purpose here in my hometown, I could still pretend that the move was still only temporary. That’s how I’ve thought of it this whole time- a product of a global pandemic, a waiting room of sorts, until I figure out what’s next. I didn’t allow myself to be HERE. I’ve been gone from Nashville for six months and somehow it still didn’t feel permanent until this week. 

This new job is a huge blessing- but it also further proved that my Nashville chapter has closed. This isn’t some bizarre experiment, dipping my toes into the water of a hometown return. Shit just got real. 

So… I’m just gonna ride the current now. 

I named it, now I don’t have all that doubt standing in the way of getting around to fixing it. 

Pragmatic acceptance. No more “maybe it’s my self-discipline, maybe it’s my sleep schedule, blah blah blah.” 

Just naming it had me out in our yard, ice skating in the day’s last bit of sunshine. I told myself that the light and fresh air would be the first prescription. And I could quit any time I wanted, as long as I just walked outside. 

By naming it, I feel allowed to take baby steps, go back to basics. Make the bed. Drink water. Pet the dog. Treat a shower like it’s the most important thing I’ll do today. (I should have known earlier when showering suddenly became exhausting… yikes.) 

But that’s how you find your way out. I’ve done this before. We think of surrender as such a dirty word- but sometimes it’s the right choice to make. Surrender the need for control, surrender that crazy human tendency we all have to get in our own damn way, surrender expectations for the future which comes at the expense of losing the present moment. 

Surrender to the current. It’ll bring me back. 

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