I’m not posting much on Facebook these days. Except for today, I haven’t written a public post on this blog in several weeks. I’m not making many phone calls, or reaching out much to people to have lunch or coffee or just text and say hi. I’ve gone quiet. I’ve gone dark.
I am definitely blue. My therapist, my best friend, and I agree that I am mildly depressed. But this mild depression is an odd beast. In the past my depression was a direct result of unexpressed grief. In my teens, I felt alone, convinced I was crazy, because I was grieving deeply for my mother in a way I could barely articulate. In my twenties and thirties, I learned how to articulate it but was astonished by how much grief there really was. I went in and out of depression in my early adulthood, but when I was in it, it was moderate or severe (though almost never accompanied by suicidal thoughts, fortunately).
Then I had my son at 38–the same age my mother was when she died, almost to the day. I entered into what I now realize was postpartum depression and anxiety. I was dogged by the persistent delusion that my son would be better off with me as unengaged in his childhood as possible, and by the fear that I would follow the same path as my mother and somehow wind up dying. Since I was not suicidal and everyone told me I was a good mother, I was aware that neither the delusion nor the fear made rational sense.
Once my son entered kindergarten, both of these feelings lifted. I saw how different my path was from my mother’s. But by that point I had already plunged into more than a year of food hell, when I was diagnosed with many new food intolerances and needed to completely rebuild my diet from the ground up.
Now my diet is relatively stable, and my symptoms have largely abated or become manageable. And suddenly I am blue. I am unmotivated to do much. I muster the most energy for playing video games or reading books. I am doing better than I ever have at household chores, laundry and dishes and cooking and shopping, but it doesn’t take up much of my time or my brain.
This depression is weird. Unlike times when the color seemed to leach out of the world and all I wanted to do was sleep, I notice and enjoy the spring flowers and the lovely weather, although I’m unmotivated to take walks beyond walking my son to school most mornings. I dress in bright clothing, although my earring and sock choices are slightly less imaginative than usual. I show up to writing group and therapy and all my other appointments, although I’m sometimes a little late, which is unlike my previous behavior of being driven to arrive a few minutes early.
And oddly, I feel like some of this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel a need for silence. For quiet. I feel like I’m listening for something. I’ve prayed and agonized enough over the years about what I am for, my purpose in life, that I know that prayer and meditation will never result in The Answer being handed to me on a silver platter. But it does feel like I’m in some sort of quiet discernment. I have little desire to write, although when I do set pen to paper I come up with things to say. It feels more like writing is a distraction from… listening.
I’m drawn to books about answering a call to fulfill God’s dream for me, or finding my own north star, or spiritual discernment. When I’m alone, I walk around our house quietly and mindfully, feeling the ankle I sprained a couple of months ago click and resist with new stiffness. Sometimes I draw, choosing Zentangle designs with apparent randomness, only titling each piece after it’s done, seldom knowing what I’m trying to convey or why I’m making the choices I do. I’m tongue-tied.
I’m not sure if this is wonky brain chemistry or a valid choice, but I guess I’ll keep hanging out and listening.