I have had a post in my head for a couple of days now about depression and how insidious and sort of weirdly all encompassing it is but then I just can’t, somehow, sit down and write it. And that’s it, really, in a nutshell – I just can’t. Do anything. Last November, faced with a one two punch of the impending holidays and the kids downstairs announcing that they thought they had bedbugs (again. We’ve had bedbugs – twice. No, really. Don’t ask. Once long ago in a fairy tale forest or a dark and dismal dungeon I was cursed by a Vermin Witch and ever since I’ve suffered intermittent plagues of a rotating cast of Vermin. Which makes for hilarious anecdotes but, like much later anecdote fodder, is not so fun when you’re going through it. Vermin Pro Tip: everyone has a rat story. No, everyone. If you’re in one of those terrible conversational lulls where nobody has a word to say, get the rat stories going. You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp with horror, you’ll never want to see any of these people again, but the conversation will flow like water. Dark, scummy, but quick moving water.) Anyway, at that point I gave up and went to bed. Well, first I spent the tax money on bedbug supplies, which are fucking expensive, and then I just gave up. We didn’t have bedbugs, by the way, although we did have a small and unsurprising infestation of fleas, but the money – roughly $400, yes, $400 – was already gone. Gone, baby, gone. And the money being gone and, perhaps even worse, the knowledge that losing $400 to an unexpected expense was enough to actually completely cripple me, that the way I live is such that if anything goes wrong, anything at all in this house of cards, I will abso-fucking-lutely literally end up homeless and babbling on the street, sent me to bed.
People usually say to me, oooh, you’re so brave, you keep going! Most people would just give up! and this always makes me sort of irrationally angry, because a) I am not brave and b) I do give up. I gave up long ago. It’s just there are different degrees of giving up and mine involves going to work and, uh, going to work. I can get up and get showered and dressed and go to work and even go out with my friends once in a while and feed the dogs and etc.: function for certain values of function, but that’s it. When I’m not doing the absolutely necessary, I’m in bed or playing Minecraft and all this has been a long winded way of saying that the house has basically not been cleaned since Thanksgiving.
I only ever slowly become aware that I’m depressed – like, one day in February I thought, you know, perhaps it isn’t entirely normal to do absolutely NOTHING on your days off except lie in bed and play Bubble Witch on the iPad, but then my brain drifts off again and I don’t care if I kick aside cartoon tumbleweeds of dog fur to get to the kitchen. Or, well, that’s not true: I do care, but I can’t, somehow, do anything about it. Mindfulness is supposed to be the key, but that usually goes like this with me.
Self 1: Okay! We’re going to get something done, here! We’re going to clean out this closet!
Self 2: Whatever.
Self 1: Yeah! We’ve got boxes! Let’s open this one and
Self 2: Those are Mom’s scarves. Look what you’ve done to them. She loved those scarves. She’d cry and cry if she saw what you’ve done with her beautiful things. What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you take care of things? Why have you let everything fall into rack and ruin? Look around you! It’s disgusting! You’re disgusting! And you’re hugely fat, repulsive, loathsome, your inner horribleness is starting to show, you know, that happens, you’re old and fat and your dissipation is showing on your face. You deserve to die alone in the gutter and be eaten by the rats.
Self 1: Look! I am tearing myself up again! I am mindful that I am being mean to myself!
Self 2: Yes! You are! And you deserve it! Look at those scarves! Are you really going to throw them away, you selfish inconsiderate monster? You’ve lost or destroyed all the family heirlooms now, there’s nothing left, hundreds of years of things your ancestors worked hard for and valued, all destroyed in one generation by your useless, useless self.
Self 1: I can’t. . can’t. . I didn’t mean to . . I don’t know why I’m so bad at this . . .
Self 2: What are you going to do? There’s too much to do! You can’t do this! It’s too hard! Go to bed.
Self 1: Okay it’s safe there. Look! I have all my bubble witch lives back!
Self 2: It’s for the best. You’re a shitty artist and your photography is pathetic and you don’t even have the gumption to write a stupid blog post let alone a book – you’re a total fucking alkie loser who will never get anything done ever again, even laundry, but you actually are pretty good at bubble witch.
Self 1: I am good at bubble witch! Yay!
And, as they say, lather, rinse, repeat. I have been off work for four days and I have managed to clean out one closet and sort of vacuum a couple of spots. This is not going to get this house to the point where I can show it to a real estate agent. And then, of course, I go into the spiral of, do I really want to do this? How do I do this? If I sell this house, if I even can, will I end up homeless anyway because I will trickle the money away on stupid shit? Why can’t I do anything right?
And then there is the anthropomorphization. I had to go lie down yesterday several times because I have decided to give Mom’s old vacuum cleaner to the Goodwill if they will take it and the dump if they will not. I cried. “It trusts me!” I bawled, “It’s been in the family for over 30 years!” That’s just the vacuum. The Irish linen tablecloths that I will never use, the crystal salt cellars, the sad remnants of the silver and all the objects that point out the fact that I will never, no never, live a life where I set the beautiful table for dinner with lovely things but instead I will eat bargain cheese standing up at the kitchen counter with an unwashed dog at my feet, sent me off for a restorative lie down. Don’t even get me started on the house itself. I suspect that my house, which is not architecturally significant or beautiful, will be torn down and replaced with several ludicrously expensive vertical eco-houses (side note: those houses are horrible for old dogs and probably even worse for old people and what the fuck, Asheville builders, do you really think everyone stays young with young dogs forever?) because that’s the way this neighborhood is going. I think about the work we put into painting it and decorating it and the garden, oh god, the garden – and how the house has nobly stood here for either 50 or 75 years depending on who you talk to, uncomplaining, sheltering families, never doing anything wrong, poor house – and I have to go lie down some more.
So what with all the lying down there is not a lot actually getting accomplished and I think I’m on track to get the house on the market by, oh, 2025 or so. By which point I also think the house will be quite literally full to the brim with dog hair and I hope there’s a market for that by then.
But! All is not bleak! I mean, okay, it is, but here’s the thing: when I begin to recognize that this stuff is going on it generally means that I am actually starting to clamber slowly up out of the mineshaft. Or so has been my experience in my oh, so many, many years of this slide down the rabbit hole, crawl out, slide back down again life. And maybe I will get more energy. Several well meaning friends have given me therapist phone numbers to call and if I can bring myself to do that, then it means things really are going to be looking up. And I am having a fun staycation anyway; I went to see Gogol Bordello on Monday night, I went for a hike on Sunday and I went to trivia last night. I am getting better. I hope. Oh gods, I hope.