"All logistics aside, whom among your friends here would you want to be with you right now?" my therapist C asked.
Just minutes before I'd given her a laundry list of depression-like symptoms I'd been experiencing over the past several weeks: anxiety, inability to focus, excessive sleep, weight loss. Overall I felt like I was being pulled underwater by an undertow, or riding my bike uphill with a full-force wind gusting against me. No matter how much I fought, I could not seem to pull myself up. For a relatively competent, strong-willed person, this was proving to be...well, depressing.
Of course the break-up and subsequent flailing about have been tough on me. But lately it had begun intensifying, and the feelings of sadness were becoming more extreme and debilitating. I've had my bouts of gloominess and mourning at different times in my life, but never had I experienced the despair of feeling like I could not get out of bed, could not take a shower, could not function normally. And it was freaking me the hell out. Part of me was hoping she'd say, "Let's get you an appointment with a psychiatrist." Let me pop some pills, let me be abdicated of any responsibility. But the symptoms were relatively new. At least for the time being it was "episodic," a "depressive state."
In addition to feeling like shit, I was feeling isolated, too. At some of my hardest moments, all I wanted was some company, to be with somebody else. But when C asked me the question, "Who do you want to be here?" and I mentally went through my list of friends in the area, I could not come up with a single person I felt I could call to come sit with me in my puffy-eyed, unshowered misery. "I can't think of anyone." The truth killed me.
Somehow in the following days I managed to get my momentum going. I forced myself out of the house, to happy hours, to friends' houses, to the gym. I bought myself ingredients to make my favorite soup and cozy new sweatpants. I practiced the kindness to self that's so new to me. And by the next week I returned to my time with C feeling like things were getting back to normal again.
Feeling normal, that is, until my weekend in North Carolina when I was reminded of what it's like to be loved and known. I cried the entire six hour drive back to DC. I kept saying to myself, "Why am I torturing myself by living here?" Hell, even if I was just as miserable in NC, at least I'd have friends there who care for me just down the road and family close by. And since then I've barely managed to get out of bed. I'm back down in the valley and feeling more discouraged than before. How can I muster up the energy to pull myself out of this shit yet again?
I see now that what I really want is what I'm lacking most here. Not friends, not acquaintances, not social groups, not outings, not happy hours. It's the feeling of belonging somewhere. Of having friends who not only are up for a night out but are there in the dark places. Of having community, connection, realness. The person I have that most with here is SCL.
My friend L said it best: "It's like you are having to fight for every ounce of happiness you have there." That's exactly how it feels--a fight, a battle both internal and external. And I'm just getting exhausted. C says it's normal to feel like there won't be anything other than these feelings. I guess in that way at least I'm "normal" because I'm just not seeing a way out of this one.