"Come back to me"
Depression is an ugly and destructive force. It lies, it manipulates, and it undermines all good things. I have had it in me for as long as I can remember, so I know. I also know that, no matter how godawful I feel when it’s happening, that it’s been much worse.
Over the past week, dealing with the latest go-round, I still did everything I needed to do, showed up everywhere I needed to be. In the past, when I was much younger, feeling like I did over the past week would send me to bed, remaining there for days, not dressing, not answering the phone, not doing anything but rotting my brain with hours of anything on television, no matter how crappy it was. I did laundry when I ran out of clothes, and then, being too down to fold it all, simply plucked what I needed out of the wrinkled heap in the basket. I either starved myself, or ate everything in sight.
So yes, I’m much better. I can function with a bout of depression. But it really, really sucks. And only those who share this chemical dysfunction truly know how it feels. It’s like having a relentless bully living inside your head, sitting on your chest, tormenting you every damn waking minute.
I am normally a fairly animated person — my face is expressive, my voice rises and falls, I talk with my hands, etc. But when I’m depressed, everything has a flat affect. John has described it this way: “It’s like the light’s gone out of your eyes.” True, because the light goes out of my world, along with the color. John, somehow, is able to make me laugh like no other. So when I was with him on the weekend, I was distracted. But as soon as I left and came home, the shroud settled back around me. As Steve has said, I go into a dark place. I walk, I talk, I dress, I show up. But my essence is elsewhere.
“Come back to me,” he says, when it happens.
Yesterday, I was pretty numb when he came over. Tears dribbled out of my eyes as we talked, but I didn’t actively cry or sob. He was sad because he knew his lack of response to my spontaneous selfie had upset me, but he was also hurt that he had to find out about it by reading my blog, instead of my telling him directly. I told him it wasn’t just the damn picture; it was a lot of other stuff, a culmination of several things (including a week without work) that had put me into my pit.
We talked for a long time, and he held me. I curled into him, but I wasn’t very responsive. He asked what I wanted, what I needed. I answered, “I want you to decide. Take charge. I don’t want to think.”
So he did.
It took a while to push through the wall of malaise, solid as brick, behind which I was hidden. His hand slowly but surely built up speed and power, and it had been two weeks, so it stung. But I barely registered it. I lay still.
He’d thoroughly covered my bottom and sit spots, and I was absorbing it with barely a whimper. Then, unexpectedly, he slapped my mid-thigh. Completely unprepared, I jerked up and screamed, before I clapped my hand over my mouth to stifle it. It was the first real reaction he’d gotten.
“Maybe I need to do a little more of this,” he said, slapping the other thigh. “Maybe then you’ll remember who I am, who we are, and you’ll come back to me.”
No implements this time; he just used his hand. It was all he needed. He struck my thighs repeatedly; nowhere near as hard as on my bottom, of course, but enough to make me thrash around and moan. I twisted my feet together so roughly, my left foot seized up in a horrible cramp and I couldn’t straighten it. “Cramp,” I gasped. “Where?” “Left foot.” He stopped immediately, took my foot into his hands and massaged the arch until I was able to straighten my foot and relax. And then he started up again.
“Grit your teeth, honey,” he said softly, just before assailing my thighs again. I screamed into my pillow. “I know that really hurts. I’m sorry. But it has to be done.”
I knew it did. He was breaking down the wall. He alternated the slaps between the extra hard ones on my bottom and the medium ones on my legs, and I started to cry, really cry this time, with passion and pain and feeling. “Do you remember now, Erica? Are you back with me?”
He held me close for a long time afterward, while I covered his t-shirt with tears. Now, instead of passively accepting his embrace, I gripped him as tightly as I could.
We did not take any pictures or video. However, about three hours after he’d gone, I took a couple. First, I was amazed at how much color had remained, long after the scene:
And second, I wanted to capture my face, right at that moment. No makeup, eyes swollen, expression tired… but soft. At peace. My head was quiet, my insides felt clean and clear. I altered it to black and white, to signify the simplicity. I hope you can see what I meant for you to see… this photo may look sad, but I was actually in a good place.
To everyone who commented, who sent PMs, thank you. It’s risky, sharing this personal pain publicly. But it’s how I reach out. And to those who suffer from depression, I want them to know that it does pass. It’s difficult to work through when it’s happening, but it passes, and you come out of the tunnel and see light again.
Friends help. Partners help. And for those of us with that particular proclivity, tops help. ♥ ♥ ♥
Oh, and the famine has become feast. I’m currently working on one project with three others waiting for me. So yay. 🙂