Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Life Goes On

Bedtime tonight looked a lot like the apocalypse as three children fought over who was in charge of picking up the Lego, who was in charge of picking up the train tracks, and who was in charge of picking up Ultraman guys. Stow exercised the typical little brother tactic of walking off the job. Sky, whose voice is now at least an octave lower than it was six months ago, employed his man voice having discovered that yelling at people has a much greater impact than it did when he sounded like a child. Pink, who has learned to ignore the yelling, taunted the yeller, a strategic move that never ends well for her. Listening to it unfold from upstairs, I imagined limbs entangled in a dust ball of a fight like in the old Loony Tunes cartoons.

Ultraman guys as visual representation of the number of times I've traveled to Japan for work over the past however many years.

At one point, Stow came up, angry that I persisted in requiring these things be picked up (a request that was at least four hours old by that point) and threatened to break the lamp (our lamps take it on the chin, you guys) before coming at me with a phone handset. Fortunately, he's just barely this side of holding it together, so instead of getting clocked in the head with the phone, I got hugged aggressively (for the seventh or eighth time today), before he pulled it together enough to go back down to help. Not long after, Sky and Pink stomped their way upstairs to bed.

Ren had already retreated before the bedtime smackdown unfolded.  I know he heard it, but he didn't intervene. His leg pain is back, and after ten days of dealing with my depression (and 25 days before that parenting the kids alone), he'd hit his wall. I wasn't surprised or even disappointed by this; he made it longer than I expected he would. Both of us are married to someone who suffers depression--mine lifelong, his situational, the product of severe and chronic pain and of being so far from home and parenting kids on the spectrum--so I suppose the bright side is that we understand what the other is experiencing even if we don't have the resources to help.


When you come out the other side after a serious bout of depression, it feels a bit like you've re-entered the Earth's atmosphere in a spaceship that has a cracked heat shield. You can't believe you made it back, and, also, you feel pretty fried.

In that fuzzy state when you've transitioned from the sheer terror of ideations and a brain on the fritz to the more familiar general malaise of life with chronic depression, it's hard to figure out how how to piece things together again. The easiest way, of course, is to just go back to whatever it is you were doing before the crisis--you know, to pretend you didn't just go through days or weeks of hell. To keep going to therapy and taking the medication.To focus on work and the kids. To go out with friends. To distract yourself with television or mindless games. To exercise more. Only, it feels a little harder to do these things because you are less and less sure that anything really helps.

Plus, you don't come out the other side into a vacuum. You come straight back into real life after having lost days, weeks, or even months to the darkness that sought to overtake you. There's no trophy for outrunning it again, no celebration that somehow you made it through. Instead, you dust yourself off and keep running, slower, winded and limping, but moving forward. Life goes on because it has to, and you figure out how to go on with it because, really, that's your only choice.

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