I take medication for depression.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem to work. I get stuck in my head, and all the things I say to myself get louder and louder and more insistent. It can be scary. I go to battle in my head, against myself, the dark, assured, confident voice of my own miserable beliefs about what other people think and feel.
At times, I think – so clichéd – that “they’d all be better off without me.” I do. They don’t really need me. I’ve ruined everything. Their lives would be better and brighter and happier if I wasn’t around.
I’m pretty convincing.
I’m also good at arguing. And though I can convince myself that everyone else would do just fine if I wasn’t here, I come to a dead stop when I think of my kids.
They keep me anchored to this earth. And, to flip that image around, they also keep my head above water when the pond weeds are pulling on my legs.
I almost drowned when I was 12 or 13. I was stupid. I wanted to be liked. I said I could swim across this pond when my friend at the time suggested we do just that.
I couldn’t. I had no business even attempting it. I was not a strong or confident swimmer. I love the water, as long as I’m just near it and not way in it over my head.
We struck out from one spot on the pond’s shore, and while she went straight across that section, I knew, pretty soon, that I needed to take a left turn. My legs kept feeling those tall, seaweed-like weeds growing up from the bottom, and I felt heavier and slower and basically like I was full of lead. I went under, turning left, and under again, and I think I yelled “help” or something when I could. I don’t remember a lot of detail. I just remember finally, gratefully feeling the slightly slimy bottom of the pond with my toes. I got myself out of the water and took great big breaths, and when my friend swam over I laughed and said I got tangled in the weeds and panicked.
But I didn’t. Not really. No tangling. Just panic. Just being stupid and saying I could do something I had no business attempting.
When I was very little my parents belonged to a “beach club” and my mom, mostly, would take my sister and me there early on summer mornings so we could play in the sand and the shallow waves. On weekends my Dad would sometimes come, too.
One year we had these floaty raft things – promotional inflatable little boats put out by M&Ms – the logo was on both sides, and one side was brown, like the package for the original M&Ms, and the other side was yellow – peanut.
I remember sitting on my little raft – I think the brown side was up – in the water and somehow I managed to propel my little self past the gently crashing waves along the shoreline and into the deeper water. I don’t know why I thought kicking would make me go forward. I don’t know why, when I kept going backward – out to the deeper water, I didn’t stop and rethink my tactics.
I also don’t know why I wasn’t scared.
Maybe because I could still see my parents and my sister clearly. Maybe because my dad, standing in the water, waving his arm and shouting something, didn’t seem upset and I couldn’t understand what he was saying. La la la la…kick kick kick.
And then he was there in the water, by my little kicking feet, grabbing hold of the M&M raft and bringing me back to the sand. I don’t remember feeling relieved, or after-it’s-over sudden fright, or anything like that.
It’s just a small, silent video clip in my mind.
At my worst, I have no idea what the point is of me being here.
But here I am.
So after kicking against the weeds and going under for a while, I manage, again, to feel the sand under my toes and to gulp the air.
I try to focus on doing things that make me feel like me. Creative things. Creating things. And then I try to get the other scraps of myself in order. Under control. Until the next time I let go of everything and let panic take over.
I’m home from work today because – rah, rah, it’s pouring rain and our roof is leaking. Fortunately it’s not traveling through the ceilings and walls, destroying everything. It’s currently – when the rain is heavy – dripping into a bucket in our upstairs bathroom.
I read somewhere that water represents emotion.