I started to feel like I was living two different lives: One as the committed mom and one as the jet-setting photographer, all the while seriously doubting I was doing either well.
I’m laying on my side under the covers. I’ve got my clothes on. It’s not as much of a bummer as it sounds -- yoga pants barely qualify as out-in-the-world clothes, so it’s not like I got into bed while wearing a matching suit set. Also, I haven’t brushed my hair today, so theoretically I could convince a stranger that I never actually got dressed which somehow seems less depressing than getting dressed, giving up, and returning to the safety of sheets.
Of course, this last part is contingent up a stranger deciding that questioning my life choices was how they wanted to spend the last twenty-four hours of their weekend. You never know. People are weird and terrible. We get off on a myriad of weird and terrible things. Like criticizing strangers, or watching men stick thin metal rods into their penises for the low, low price of $2.99 per minute.
My left eye is squished closed against the pillow. My glasses I’ve tucked beneath another pillow, for safe-keeping. I should know better. This is not a plan that’s worked before. One of the metallic decorative ends on the arms of my frames was eaten by a truculent kitten. Don’t worry, he’s fine now, but as I waited with baited breath for the damn thing to pass, life felt particularly grim. Staring expectantly at the wrong end of a cat for an extended period of time will have that effect on your outlook.
Now, the less truculent of my two cats stares into my open eye, purring contentedly. It’s about 3:30 in the afternoon, a cloudy, but not too cold, Sunday. “I think I might be a little depressed,” I admit to him. He sneezes onto my face. I flinch, like you do when a cat rockets snot and salvia onto your person. “Exactly,” I say, before rubbing the muck off my face onto my duvet cover.
When I walked around, anxious all the time, I understood myself perfectly. Oh sure, the way I saw the world and myself was warped, but at least I felt like I had a handle on it. Now, not-so-anxious, medicated, and therapied, the big reveal is that I have no fucking clue about most things. Ask me what I want, ask me if I love you, ask me if I’m upset, ask me if I’m hungry, and I turn into this girl. My body has never been speedy, but that’s never bothered me, not really. There was always the alacrity of my mind and heart and I was proud of that.
Now, that’s gone. I still speak like greased-light. I am still the queen of definitive statements, staunchly made and almost always eventually redacted. But now, every time it comes to sorting out what I feel about anything, it’s like I need at least seven days of quiet ocean-side contemplation and unfortunately (as I do not spend my leisure hours rolling around in a pile of endless shiny Sacagaweas) that doesn’t ever really happen.
In the past, I associated depression only with my anxiety. Now, I’m learning that -- OH WONDERFUL SURPRISE -- everybody gets a little ‘down’ now and then. I am not a special snowflake, as I harrumph in my bed on my day off, resolutely refusing to do all of the things that will make me feel better. I know that if I eat a vegetable, walk the dog, do some light yoga, things will improve. But it takes so long for me to effectively sort this out that the sun has practically set by the time I decide to kick my butt into gear.
Wearing the same yoga pants (hateful bright pink), I set out towards this hot yoga studio in my neighborhood. I want to be exceptionally clear about something: Yoga has not changed my life. You will never find me espousing the virtues of sending your ass in one direction and your head in another while focusing on breathing, something my body tends to do itself. For a while I was strictly doing exercises that left no space for thoughts or feelings: Running to Ariana Grande songs, a sneer on my face, stair-stepping while watching a Blood, Sweat, and Heels Marathon, that was more my speed.
But I want my insides to catch up. I’d like to better understand my feelings. I’d like to successfully meditate on my chakras in corpse pose without weeping, weeping, weeping. I want to grapple with my feelings, I guess (...wrote the lamest person on the planet). I spent the first five minutes of my walk to yoga congratulating myself for leaving the house and for being proactive. I spent the next five minutes beating myself black and blue for being arguably the most basic of bitches who ever bitched.
With only five minutes more until I would be awkwardly trying to remember what my sit-bones are, and praying I don’t fart, I stopped dead in my tracks: I suddenly remembered that the pants I was wearing (in addition to be the ugliest things ever created) had another major flaw. They were ripped in the crotchal region in such a severe fashion that my pubic hair maintenance (or lack thereof) and all three holes would be on proud display with my first flipped-turtle happy baby position. Yeah yeah, I wasn’t wearing underwear -- who cares? Sometimes (most of the time) I don’t.
I was now standing outside the studio. The me of over a year ago? She would have quietly turned around and gone home, deeply ashamed and deeply relieved that she wouldn’t be forced to participate in something outside of her comfort level. Instead, I opened the door. “Do you sell pants?” I asked the woman manning the desk. She looked at me with a frown of confusion before shaking her head. “I just remembered the crotch of these pants are like, totally gone,” I explained to her - LIKE A CRAZY PERSON.
She laughed in sympathy and recommended I try the boutique across the street. I nodded, having no intention of doing so. I said goodbye and turned around and walked home, embarrassed, chagrined, and far too aware of the brisk autumn air on my nethers.
It occurs to me as I walk home, making the most of the outing by stopping for coffee and making small talk with the surly teen behind the counter, that I am becoming, in life, a version of myself who is much closer to resembling the version you all read about here. I feel like I’m getting braver and I came to realizing that in the span of a twenty-minute walk and an awkward encounter involving the discussion of my private parts with a stranger. Is it the pills, is it writing here, is it growing up? Maybe it’s a combination of all those things.
I can focus on the bad and the overwhelming, it’s easy for me. That will always be where I feel the most comfortable swimming. But the moments I emerge, pop slick-headed out of the water to tell a joke or share a weakness and in that moment connect with another person, that no longer feels like such a foreign locale.