When the ground opens, and the sun comes out.
I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, coming as it does at the end/beginning of a lot of things. End(ish) of a dark time, beginning of a new one, end(ish) of one year, beginning(ish) of another. A new website (yay!), a new focus, a renewed sense of optimism and joy.
So much sadness, also, and parts of myself that are gone now. Parts of myself that have changed.
I almost didn’t make it through the summer. This probably sounds like hyperbole, but it isn’t. I’m typing the words and thinking but was it really that bad, was it, and every single time the question comes up there’s another voice that just says yes, over and over. Yes, it was that bad. Yes, you came so close.
Yes, you feel different now. Like all of your molecules have spun around and changed and left you sitting with a different set of cells. You are still grieving her, the girl that was before.
You’ve been seasoned, a friend told me recently. Like a piece of wood held to the fire.
I will write about this elsewhere, in greater detail, but for now: at the end of August I began to see a doctor, and she put me on medication right away. I started to feel better within days: suddenly the daydreams were back, suddenly there was energy to do other things than go to work and come home and sleep. Suddenly there were stories in my head again where before, for so long, there had been nothing. I was on meds for a month before we upped the dose, and again, I felt the difference within days. Ideas! Big plans! New adventures! They came spilling out of my hands and mouth and mind and heart like they’d been locked up in a dungeon.
I should have done it so much sooner. A year ago, maybe two. I did not. I didn’t go because I thought I was silly and spoiled and actually fine, on some level, because wasn’t I getting up and going to work? Didn’t I go out with friends and laugh? Hadn’t I been given so much already? You’re not depressed. You’re just ungrateful. You made some terrible decisions (so much expensive school, so little chance of a job) and now you are paying for those decisions. If you can’t be happy with what you have, then you don’t deserve to be happy at all.
You’re not depressed. You’re just ungrateful.
As it turns out, though, sometimes it’s something more than that. Sometimes you need help. It is okay–it is so much more than okay–to ask for that help. Whether it comes from medication or a doctor or a counselor or a friend or someone else. It is okay. It will always be so much more than okay.
And now here I am, several months later, writing the first new post on my new website. Maybe the sprout-from-the-ground motif is overdone, but it feels appropriate. I feel like I’ve been buried for a long time, and the help that I finally asked for–medication, therapy, someone to tell me it was okay to be sad–was enough to lift me up so that my nose and mouth sat just above the surface, allowing me to breathe. From there, I could start to see what I needed to do to pull my life back together. I am a little farther out of the ground now, and it feels very nice. I have projects in mind and some new opportunities on the horizon and a slowly forming idea of what might happen next, places I might go.
I’ve been writing a lot over these past few weeks, and sending things out, so hopefully there will be more work out in the world in the coming months. I’m also just enjoying how it feels again, this gift of space and time to sit down and spin words out onto paper. It all feels so normal and special and nice. I am grateful. I am so grateful for all of it.
I am still sad a lot of the time. I feel like a darker Amanda–like I’ve walked through a fire, yes, and now it is over and the air still smells of ash, no matter how far I get from the burning. Maybe it will always be that way. Maybe I’ll stop taking the medication at some point and things will be okay, or maybe the heavy sadness will come back, but hopefully I’ll recognize it now. You’re not ungrateful. You’re not. You just need a little help, again.
In the meantime, though, here’s to the reappearance of dreams and beautiful new websites (shout out to the fabulous Natalie Olsen and the equally fabulous Sue Reynolds of WritePortal!) and stories and new life and the things that one learns and loses when one gets seasoned. Here’s to coming out at the other end, intact.
“Everything you see and do will feel like a gift now,” my friend said. “Everything will be amazing.”
He was right — it is.