There are good days and then there are bad days.
On the good days, you notice the sun shining bright upon your face, you see the sunlight reflected in the snow, you feel great in a schlubby sweatshirt, salt stained jeans and worn pumas and you like the way you look, hair all pulled back and held in a headband and a face devoid of any makeup. Classes are enjoyable; even Mr. Mean old troglodyte’s class isn’t as torturous as usual. You head over to Starbucks after class and order a tall house. As the hot drink permeates your senses and the caffeine starts kicking in, you roll the sip of coffee in your mouth and revel in its taste. Everything seems beauteous and all is well with the world.
On the bad days, and I mean bad, you feel hopeless, devoid of all meaning for existence. You lie in bed, eyes wide open, and you feel the clangs of the radiator rattle you to your very bones. You do not want to go to class; you do not want to take a shower, heck you don’t even want to move. You lie there, stuck to the mattress as if your back was hosed in super glue. There is no physical manifestation of sickness, of course not, but the terrible listlessness gnaws at your insides like a symbiotic parasite, rendering you dead, unable to function.
You finally crawl out of bed, twenty minutes before class- it’s at 3pm, pull on your clothes listlessly and make sure that you wear the biggest sweatshirt that you can possibly find. You want to hide under the hood of your sweatshirt, you want to be invisible. You step into the restroom, and check yourself before you look in the mirror. You feel your intestines knotting itself in dread. You take a deep breath and stare at your reflection. You feel a swift whoosh of hate in your stomach at what you see. Your hair is messy and a little greasy, your skin looks dreadful – oh magnificent, another breakout, and you feel like a pox on the face of humanity. You quickly tear yourself away from the mirror and sink even lower into your hooded sweatshirt. Invisibility would be nice.
On the bad days, the despondency settles upon you like a shroud. Everything seems doomed to failure, you wonder if you will ever while away the time with your friends again, you wonder if you will ever partake in that alien concept known as a social life. You chafe at the notion of a single rational thought, of the will to just pick up that phone and call your mother, of the simplicity of dressing nice, of the effortless intricacies involved in just applying a little makeup, you wonder at your ghastly inability to do the things you used to do and take for granted. You feel the parasite within you getting stronger as the awful gnawing refuses to go away.
Suddenly you feel dreadfully alone. But paradoxically, you tremble at the thought of social gatherings and any form of interaction with other human beings, and you start avoiding them like an affliction. You retreat even further into yourself and feel the miasma of loneliness strangle your senses. You realize that you have created a vicious cycle of avoidance and paralyzing seclusion. You realize that you are fast disappearing, disappearing into a twilight zone of your own creation, with no possible exit looming in the distance.
Utterly listless, hopeless and a despondency bordering on hysteria, interspersed with a sliver of hope every now and then. An existence fraught with insomnia and a feeling of complete ineffectuality.
And then, a friend calls. Forces you to attend a party. You break down. You have forgotten how it is to feel pretty. To wear beautiful clothes. To slip your feet into delicately strapped sandals and feel alive. To catch the light reflected by your shiny hair in the mirror and feel like you own the world. You cry, not because you are not any of those things, you cry because you have forgotten how to be those things. You cry at your inability to participate in an activity you used to consider ordinary. You cry with shame and fear and a little bit of anger at your uselessness, at this beast which stands between you and the elusive state of feeling normal.
In a surprising act of willpower bolstered by a strong jolt of anger, you wipe away your tears and step into the shower. You get dressed and do your hair. As you start applying your makeup, you feel a rush of happiness at the familiarity of your actions. You pick up the lip gloss like a long lost friend, and start applying it to your lips with a growing sense of ease. You put on your earrings and slip into your sandals.
As you are dancing away at the party with your friends, you want to break down and cry at the happiness coursing through your veins. Tonight, the pall of gloom and doom has been rendered nonexistent. Tonight, you think with a flush of pleasure, you feel at the top of the world.
And thus you garner the strength to trudge on, to go a little further. Proud stoicism in the face of despondency or not, you will go on, you will feel and live and move and just be.
Post Script: This post is almost certainly the most personal entry I’ve ever made on this blog. This has been a microcosm of my life lately, since November 2007 at least. I didn’t want to write, I didn’t want to look at my blog, and the fact that my blog languished in my long absences only made me feel worse. But I forced myself to look at a computer screen and just write. I hoped that the process of writing would be cathartic in itself.
And you know what? It actually is.