I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot outside the food/tea place we said we’d all meet at. It was 10:30 pm. We’d just finished climbing and everyone drove their separate cars. They were already inside and I’ve been parked for about 20 minutes. I couldn’t go in. I didn’t want to… but I did. I remember asking myself, why aren’t you going in? More sitting. More waiting. But for what? It’s not like I had an answer to my own question.
It dawned on me that only an hour ago I was laughing, joking, and socializing like a normal, happy human being. And even though nothing in particular happened within that one hour, besides the 10-minute drive down the street to the tea place, I found my mood had made a complete 180. I felt sad, anxious, and burdened. My head felt heavy on my shoulders yet it was void of any coherent thought. I didn’t believe I could go inside and smile. I couldn’t see myself being social or laughing. I imagined myself walking in, hesitant and gloomy, and I was afraid that everyone could see it. Or worse, not notice it at all. More time passed in silence as I stared out at the lot, my friends’ cars sitting stationary and scattered.
A buzzing went off. A jolt of appreciation and relief struck me. Deep breath. Slide to answer.
“Where are you?”
“Outside. In the car,” I replied.
A minute passed and then he was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. He knew. His face said it. But not in the worried or you-need-to-get-help kind of way. No urgency, no pressure, no awkward silence, and no contorted thinking-about-the-right-thing-to-say face. Calm and un-worrying, but still observant. That’s what I like about Greg. He can know that something is wrong but he still treats me like I’m perfectly normal. I don’t feel crazy.
“Come inside. Don’t worry, it’s low pressure in there.” Fine…
Deep breath. He was right. I was quiet for the most part, but I talked well enough. My insides churned and I felt sick, but on the outside I was fine. And that was all I wanted to achieve when I walked in. To act and look and BE perfectly sane, even if nothing I felt made sense. It was weird. I heard every word that came out of their mouths, but it sounded both muffled and clear, and a little too loud. And even though I was sitting at the table with them, barely 6 inches away from the closest person, it still felt like I was separate. I don’t mean in an outcast-ish or I-don’t-belong kind of way. It was like I was there, but stuck in a bubble. I was watching everybody through some translucent film that made me both present and separate. I can see and I can hear and I can talk, but the experience of it all was just a little bit off.
Fast forward a couple hours. Everyone walks off to their cars to go home. I’m about to open my door when Greg gets in from the passenger side. Maurice and I exchanged a look before him and everyone else drove off. I get in.
“I think you have anxiety and depression.”
I don’t say anything. Do I believe him? I think back to the panic attack at Ben’s house and the small scaled ones through the following week. I concluded that the culprit was stress. But maybe not… I didn’t think this would be a chronic thing. I’m not crazy and I don’t want to be depressed. Depression isn’t for me, I told myself. If I have to, I’ll force myself to be HAPPY – that’s who I want to be so I’ll just be that. I’ll talk loud and laugh and joke! Yes, I can do that. I’ve been doing it my whole life!
Yet, I didn’t shake my head or argue with him like I usually would have if some other person tried to point it out. I just listened quietly and nodded my head here and there while Greg went on to recount his experience with depression.
“I’m not saying you have to rush to get help. Take your time with this.”
I nodded again.
Time… Friend and Foe. I can drag time on for as long as I want but I can never escape it. It’s been almost 2 months since my first panic attack and about a month and a half since that conversation with Greg. I’ve been coasting since then. But time catches up.
Last night was the first time these words ever came out of my mouth: I have depression. Funny how it takes weeks of frustration and insomnia to finally get the words out of me. I don’t really know where I’m at with this now, but I think I’m starting to see things a little more clearly.