The light that shoots through the south-facing window in my bedroom is growing dimmer every morning, a visual reminder of rapidly shifting time, seasons and moods. Last year I wrote this post about September and its effect on those of us who suffer depression and thought I’d link to it just in case you might be wondering why you’re having a harder time than usual. Maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s your ailing mother who lives in your spare bedroom, maybe your medication isn’t working. Or maybe it’s just the rotation of the earth.
I’m not really capable of measuring how hard of a time I’m having now versus last month or the one before that. It’s been a blinding fireball of madness for god knows how long now, but I did notice a couple of weeks ago that I’m starting to have a more difficult time climbing up and out of my mornings. They are my least favorite part of the day, and now I dread those first two hours of wakefulness like I once used to dread nightfall and not knowing if the infant in the next room would sleep at all.
In fact, those months spent huddled on the couch with my hands involuntarily clenched, imperceptibly rocking from side to side with anxiety, wondering will she sleep tonight? will she sleep tonight? seem to have fried the part of my brain that allows me to relax at night. When I was treated for postpartum depression my doctor had to focus primarily on my insomnia. It’s been over eight years and still the majority of the medication I take addresses this one aspect of my illness.
This means I’m groggy in the morning, every morning. My meds make me super tired. But I consider this a minor side effect worth enduring so that I maintain the desire to wake up in the morning. I’m a lot more physically aware of it lately, that heavy feeling in my legs as I turn to get out of bed, that fuzzy numbness in my head as I try to concentrate on my image in the mirror as I stand there brushing my teeth, that seemingly endless scramble up and out of the consuming gloom of fatigue.
Fortunately I’m able to scale this one obstacle, and within a few hours I’m usually feeling perfectly fine. I’m reminding myself to survey this feat and consider it a victory. Because even though it’s not a severed limb or a missing family member, even though it’s not something monumentally more tragic, it is an obstacle that at other times in my life would have swallowed me whole. In fact, its relative insignificance would have been the very thing that held me back the most: I’m so worthless that I can’t even get out of bed in the morning.
Today Marlo woke up at 4:30AM. Wide awake. No signs of going back to sleep. After I checked my phone to see what time it was, I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes for several seconds, not to adjust to any light but in an effort to summon the courage to start the ascent. When I got to the top a few hours later and felt better, I nodded to myself and thought, this is what onward feels like. Remember it tomorrow morning.