Two women friends of mine have recently (and separately) encouraged me to get out and to “have fun.” To be fair, the second came when I was sharing about the first’s suggestion. “Well, yeah. You should get out and have fun. Get away from dealing with all you dark stuff and enjoy something.”
If only it were that easy.
To walk away from my duplicity.
If only “fun” was actually the antidote to depression. As if going to enough amusement parks and movies and stand up comedy shows and playgrounds with my toddler would make my hormones right themselves and end my nightmares. Laughter is good medicine, and only those who know darkness know the lightness it brings. But it is not a cure.
8p on a Wednesday night, a text from a mom friend nearby who wants to go to a stand up comedy show around the corner at 9p. Ted and I were in the middle of introducing Augustine to Vanilla Ice as we performed his bedtime rituals. “Sure! Go!” Ted said immediately. Somehow, 99% of my friends have depression, anxiety, and trauma. And he knew this one friend might be in a spell. And he knew that when depression settles in, nothing is harder than doing something for yourself. So I gave her an unexpected “Yes!” and Ted shooed me into the shower. I put my wet hair up as I grabbed my keys, and put my lipstick on as I ran the two blocks to the bar, with only a slight smear on my upper lip, I might add. I’m getting better at this.
The comedy show ended up being cancelled, but we were out and were given free drinks. Shockingly, the drinks were delicious and the bar quiet and empty. We were told one of their cocktails smokes when it’s brought out. But we weren’t in a fancy cocktail mood. I drank my Manhattan in Queens, and she had something spicy with vodka. I thought about all those nights and these days a gentle friend pulls me into life when my depression makes moving impossible. So I let her say it and didn’t judge her. Affirmed her ability to live. I admit to the depression myself, and give witness to the terrible things she’s wrestling with with. I make lame jokes and share about the intellectual paralysis that comes with caring for tiny humans. Not necessarily related to the topic of depression, but I find relief when my depression can coexist with the mundane and trivial. She nods and laughs and tells me stories of her own mommy paralysis, but then shares her dreams and progress of a new venture.
The next morning is hard for both of us to get out of bed. Ted is up and gone for work before even rush hour. She and I swap texts from under the covers, and I listen to my toddler singing in his crib for far longer than I should. It’s not difficult because she and I were out late (10:30 is only a late night for parents), but because depression is viciously numbing.
The only thing to do is the one thing you can’t. The only cure I know of is the impossible action. “Keep going. Bring friends. Or, let your friends bring you.” Shower and do the dishes. Feel free to ignore your hair, or not. Go to work, then come home. The down days rise up and the good days slide low. So it comes and so it goes, this life with depression and spontaneous nights.