Ring, ring, ring,
I opened my eyes and stared at the wall.
Ring, ring, ring,
My alarm kept going off.
I continued to stare at the wall.
Today’s going to be one of those days, I thought to myself. I went to bed happy the night before but something shifted in my spirit.
Ever wake up and say I don’t feel so good today? Not physically, but emotionally. It’s like you’re not equipped to handle life today.
Eventually I got out of bed and got ready for work. I thought about my ex boyfriend. On days like these he was my strength. My overwhelming emotions were starting to drown him though. I don’t blame him for leaving. We argued a lot. I understand why he left. It was the best thing for us. Dating someone with depression isn’t an easy thing. I appreciate the fact that he stood by me for as long as he did. Besides my overpowering emotions, we were in two different places in life. Fact still remains that I miss him though.
After I got dressed I looked into my mirror and breathed in and out repeatedly. I needed to make sure I was okay.
As I drove to work I gave myself a pep talk, trying to encourage myself. Today is going to be a good day, I thought to myself, a great day actually. Then I tried an exercise that I read about online that’s supposed to help when you feel really down. You’re supposed to tell yourself where you are in life from a wide scale to an exact point. I took a deep breath and tried it.
“I am on Earth. In the United States. On the east coast. I am in D.C. I am sitting in my car. I am parked. I am in front of my job. I am in my own skin.” I put my hand over my heart. “My heart is beating. I am alive.” I took a deep breath. “I am breathing. I can move. I have a place to live, a bed to sleep on, food to eat, money in my account. And that is enough. I am enough. I am grateful.” Okay so maybe I ventured of the exercise a little bit, but hey it worked…kinda. Okay, honestly it didn’t work. I was just trying not to be a pessimist. Truthfully, that exercise just made me feel silly.
As I waited for the elevator my co worker, Kayla appeared.
“Are you ready for the day?”
“I wasn’t before. But I’m good now!”
“Had another bad morning?”
“Something like that.”
Kayla laughed, “You’re too much Jasmine! You worry too much you know that?”
“I don’t mean to. The feelings just come.”
“Just get it together girl.”
The elevator arrived. Get it together? I said to myself flabbergasted. Did she just tell me to get it together? If I knew how to do that, wouldn’t I? I rolled my eyes in the elevator and didn’t say anything. Lord, keep me at peace today please. Satan is on a prowl, and I’m not in the mood.
I don’t even know why I bothered saying anything to Kayla. We use to get along just fine. Until the day I really needed her. I normally don’t tell people about my depression. It’s not something you introduce yourself with. But one day I was really struggling and I figured she was caring enough so I told her I didn’t feel too good.
“You sick? Got a cold?”
“No. I just don’t feel well.”
“What do you mean? You look fine.”
“It’s not a physical thing. If you got a look at my head though, you’d think I had an inoperable cancer.”
“You’re scaring me.”
“Ugh. Never mind.”
“Okay. But hang in there, it’ll get better,” Kayla continued her work. Get better? The fuck?
Luckily the day went by fast and no one swayed my emotions anymore than it needed to be. I went home and cooked myself dinner. My apartment was too quiet for me. I really missed Danny.
We haven’t spoken since we broke up. We both knew the breakup was coming but I at least thought it would be cordial. Nope, of course not, it was a nasty breakup. It happened in the middle of an argument.
“Are you in a mood again?” He asked.
I didn’t feel like answering. At times I tell people I am okay, knowing I’m lying because I don’t want to talk about it or worry anyone. Today I didn’t want to lie and say no but I also didn’t want to tell the truth and say yes. My yes would consequence to Danny’s frustrated look. I knew he was getting tired of my “moods”.
After I didn’t answer he shook his head and started gathering his things.
“Yeah, there’s no point in staying tonight. You’re not going to talk to me.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Jas you never talk to me when you’re in a mood. I try to get you to talk and try to understand but you just shut me out. So I’m leaving.”
“Can you just stay please?”
“I’m in a great mood and I don’t feel like having it shifted.”
“Are you saying I bring you down?”
“Sometimes,” he admitted.
“Wow,” I was shocked.
“Yeah, I really don’t want to do this. I don’t want to argue. Just call me before you go to sleep aight?”
“Nah, I’m good. You don’t want to stay, so you don’t get a phone call.”
“So you’re just going to leave without even trying to see what’s wrong?”
“I think I’m what’s wrong,” he confessed.
“You use to always be happy when we first met. Now you’re super sad like 3 times a week. Is it me?”
“This isn’t about you!” I yelled. “My sadness has been here before I met you. It knows me more than anyone ever will.”
“Then what is it?” He yelled back. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m not going to tell you if you plan on screaming at me.”
We stared at each other. He looked frustrated and took a deep breath.
“It doesn’t even matter what I’m sad about Danny. What matters is that you want to leave.”
“I always stick around, and you know that. But what’s the point in sticking around if you’re not going to tell me why you’re sad.”
“IT DOESN’T MATTER WHY I’M SAD!” I exploded. “What matters is HOW I FEEL!” I placed a hand over my forehead. “You think I want to be sad all the time? It’s exhausting. I wish I could get rid of the feeling but I can’t and it’s frustrating.”
“Okay,” I could tell he was being careful of his next words. “How do you feel then?”
“Lost. Like I don’t know what’s going on in my life or where I’m going to end up.”
“We’ve talked about this Jas. You have your bachelor’s degree, you’re working, you have your own place, and a side hustle, You’re doing good. You’re right where you need to be.”
“It’s more than that,” I said recoiling. “I can’t explain it.”
“Babe, I’m trying here. I promise I am.” He said defeated. “But you’ve just been getting sadder and sadder lately and I don’t know how to help.”
“I don’t know how you can help,” I told him at almost a whisper.
“We can start by you telling me why you feel depressed. Then we’ll go from there.”
“It doesn’t matter Danny. I could say there was a shooting, or someone died, or something happened with my family, or best friend. I could say it’s my career or school or being in debt or not being able to afford things or struggling to pay my rent or a heart break that won’t heal, or my dad being in jail or a screwed up childhood, or things I’ve seen growing up that’s affecting me now. I could say any of that but it doesn’t matter. What matters is my pain and out of control emotions.”
We stared at each other.
“If you can’t talk to me about them, your pains, then I don’t think I’ll be seeing you again. This is taking a toll on me too.”
He opened my front door.
“Jas you know I care about you. A lot. I love you. But I think you have to take care of your mental health on your own.” Then he walked out.
Thinking back to that night brought tears to my eyes. I put in the movie Inside Out on my laptop to cheer me up. Danny had gotten the movie for me after a different argument, thinking it would be good for me. After that particular argument he walked out of my apartment without saying a word. I thought he wasn’t going to come back, but twenty minutes later he came back with my favorite ice cream, Oreos, and the movie Inside Out from Redbox. I loved it so much that he decided to pay Redbox to keep the movie. That simple gesture made my heart smile.
I woke up the next day feeling empty. I just felt like crying my heart out. My soul was aching. It was filled with worry and heartache and tainted with self loathing. I felt hopeless. The sadness was consuming me. I had no energy to do anything. I felt overwhelmed by just thinking of getting up and taking a shower or doing my normal day to day tasks. I didn’t even feel like checking my phone. Some days I wouldn’t check my phone all day. Danny and a couple of my friends hated when I did that. But I was busy ya know. Not busy in a way other people would understand. I was busy rearranging my emotions. Busy trying to work out and cook healthy meals as a temporary fix. Busy breathing in and out. Busy silencing irrational thoughts. Busy telling myself I was okay. Busy trying to silence my insecurities. Busy trying to stuff my negative feelings inside of me instead of having it painted on my face. That’s the kind of busy I deal with. People would get upset with me that I haven’t hit them up or checked up on them. But I couldn’t. I was busy checking up on my emotions.
I talk to God on the days I have the willpower to. On the days I have the courage to admit I need His help. Luckily today is one of those days. I closed my eyes and prayed. Lord I seek your face, your peace, and your joy. Let it overtake this sadness that silently consumes me. Lord replace my sadness with hope, with reassurance, and with everlasting happiness. Amen.
I decided to call out of work which wasn’t anything new. I’ve lost a lot of days due to depression. I needed time to myself. Normally I would stay in my apartment for days. Danny would have to force me to eat. Taking a shower was a different story. I hate the days when I completely shut down. But today I declared it as self care day. I finally got out of bed and went to a spa. Afterwards I got a pedicure. Took myself out to eat, went home, took a nap, woke up and wrote out my feelings in a journal. Journaling was Stacy’s idea. To be honest, it doesn’t work for me. I realized I hadn’t heard from Stacy in awhile.
Hey girl, I texted her.
Hey! How you doing?
Good. Want to meet up for happy hour?
Definitely! 4:00 our usual spot?
Yup. See you there.
4:00 came by fast. When I got there Stacy was already sitting with our first drinks ordered.
“I’ve missed you!” I hugged her.
“Me too. We’ve been so busy since our trip to Trinidad”
“I know! I think we need another trip soon.”
“Who you telling?” Stacy took a sip of her drink. “How was work today?”
“I didn’t go,” I sipped my drink
“One of those days?”
I nodded my head.
“I thought everything was good.”
“It has been for awhile.”
“Then what happened?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes when I’m happy for too long a voice creeps up to tell me this happiness isn’t real. I try to fight it but it seems to always find its strength to get back up.”
“You can’t just slay your demons,” Stacy told me. “You have to dissect them and find out what they’re feeding on. That’s why I suggested journaling.”
“I don’t like to think about what gets me down.”
“You have to. So you can work on it.”
“If I think about it, then I have to fight harder. I’m tired of fighting.”
“Then stop fighting. Don’t fight the feeling of sadness. Let the emotions overtake you. Stop running.”
“So I can cry? No thanks.”
“Crying may be just what you need. You don’t process your feelings Jas, you just take flight. It’s time to land.”
Tears filled my eyes. “I’m not ready to land.”
“Then you’re not ready to heal.”
Before I knew it we had three drinks. Stacy gave me an update of her and Jamal. He’s currently thinking of traveling somewhere but yet, still hasn’t flown to see her.
After sometime we left. Stacy is the only person I confide in besides Danny. Sometimes I confided more in Stacy and Danny hated that. I remember one time when I was in one of those moods I told Danny he could leave because I knew he wouldn’t want to deal with the certain mood I was feeling. I have levels of moods and I knew which one Danny could handle and which one I didn’t want anyone to witness.
“Danny you can go home. I’ll call you.”
“After you call Stacy?”
“No. I’m not calling her.”
“I really just want to be by myself tonight.” We were lying in my bed. He played with my natural curls and stared at me.
“Let me stay,”
“I don’t think you’re going to want to this time.”
“If Stacy was here, would you let her stay?”
“Are you jealous of Stacy?” I smiled.
“No. I just wished you told me as much as you told her.”
“I will, in time. It’s just she’s been here for me for eleven years.”
He continued to play with my hair.
“I made you smile,” he commented.
“Yes, you did.” I smiled again and he kissed me.
“Let me stay.”
“I just want silence right now. It’s all I want. I find comfort in silence.” It truly bothers me when I’m in one of my moods and people don’t sense to just leave me alone.
“You’re shutting me out. You said you would do better with that.”
“I don’t mean to shut people out when the wave comes. I just rather be by myself than to snap at people. Snapping leads to arguing.”
“So don’t snap.”
“I don’t mean to snap. It’s just…” my voice drifted off.
He pulled me closer to him.
“Talk to me. It’s just what? I want to understand you.”
“It’s just that,” I took a moment to gather my words. “It’s the only thing I’m capable of doing at the moment. The moment the wave comes. At that moment I have no control. It’s like the only way I can express my sadness is through anger. And I say things. Mean things.” My mind flashed to how rude I use to be with my siblings at those moments. “Those moments are like a battle field for me. I leave scars to whoever is around.”
“You don’t mean to.”
“No, I don’t,” I look up at him. “I use to say the meanest things to my family when it happened. And some things you just can’t take back. So when that wave comes I just want to be by myself. I don’t want to hurt anyone, not intentionally anyway.”
He kissed me. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll stay with you all night and not say anything. That way you won’t be provoked.” And he did just that.
That next morning was rough though. I didn’t feel like myself. I tried my best to hold it together, for Danny’s sake. I knew he was trying to understand my constant mood changes but I also didn’t want him to think I was crazy. After all, I did like him. So I made us breakfast while he was still asleep.
“Good morning.” He crept up behind me after I was done cooking.
“Good morning babe.” We ate and he did most of the talking. Me on the other hand was trapped in my mind. It felt like I wasn’t in my own body. Like I was a visitor there. Like my body was doing the normal routine for me but my brain was lagging behind. Like everything was in slow motion and I was stuck.
“Jas you okay?”
“Yeah I’m good babe.” I faked a smile.
“I know you. You’re not okay.”
“I said I’m fine!” I snapped. “I made us breakfast, we’re eating, we’re talking. I’m fine.”
He remained quiet and just looked at me. He then leaned over the table to take my hands into his. I pulled my hands away abruptly.
“Don’t try to hold me like you’re comforting me. I said I’m fine.” I snapped again.
“Okay. You’re fine.”
I looked away from him.
I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine. I thought to myself. JASMINE YOU’RE FINE!
I got up and cleared the table and was about to wash the dishes until I felt Danny’s arms around my waist.
“Let’s take a shower. That should clear your head.”
“It doesn’t need to be cleared.”
“Okay. Well still take a shower with me. Mine needs to be cleared.”
“Okay.” It felt good to know that he had to clear his mind. To know I wasn’t the only one with a lot on the mind. We talked in the shower about the current project he’s working on at work. It was stressing him out among other things.
“Sounds like you need to unplug,” I said.
“Yeah, we both do,” he caressed my face. “I wish I could take a look inside your head. Kiss it and help it believe that you’re fine.”
Tears threatened to escape from the imprisonment I keep them.
“Let it fall,” Danny said. I shook my head.
“I don’t cry,”
“Maybe you need to.”
I shook my head again.
“How about we talk about it?”
“Talking helps sometimes. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
“Okay,” Danny said. He turned me around to wash my back.
“I just want this feeling to go away,” I closed my eyes and let the water fall on my head.
“I know,” He kissed my neck.
“Thank you for always checking up on me.”
Fast forward to present day. A month has gone by since I saw Stacy at happy hour. I haven’t been sad once. I’ve been great actually. Even went on a date. But of course it was too good to be true. Today would’ve been Danny and I’s second anniversary. I thought I would’ve been fine but my co worker, Kayla, jinxed it.
“Hey Jasmine, can you write the piece on anniversaries for me? I have to go out of town. It’s an emergency.”
“Then write it on your way to wherever you’re going.”
“It’s going to be hard. C’mon please. It’s due for print in three days.”
“I don’t want to deal with anniversaries.”
“Danny?” This hoe knows its Danny. I rolled my eyes in my mind. “Don’t make it personal. This is completely painless.”
Humph. Painless, right. People don’t think about the words they use. Pain is a powerful word and people just throw it around.
“Relax and breathe Jasmine. Stop allowing negative feelings to control you.”
“I’m not,” I snapped.
“You are. You’re letting it affect your work.”
I didn’t say anything so she went on.
“Take control! Whatever is draining you just let it go,” she used her hands to dramatize.
“You don’t understand and you don’t care to understand. You just want me to do your work.”
“You know what your problem is?” Kayla said getting worked up. “You create problems that don’t exist. Stop over thinking things. And stop playing victim.”
“I don’t need you to tell me what my problem is.”
“You’re right. You need a therapist,” she walked away.
I don’t need a damn therapist, I thought to myself. It’s not that deep. Besides my family doesn’t believe in therapy. When I was younger, when I couldn’t get out of bed, my parents called it laziness. I tried to explain it to them that I didn’t have the mental strength to handle the day. My older sister hated me because she thought I was ‘acting up’ to seek attention. Attention was the last thing on my mind. She would call me drama queen, irritating, and weak, which of course didn’t help. I punched her in the face one time to show her I wasn’t weak.
Now, thanks to Kayla, I couldn’t get Danny out of my head. Unfortunately I always remembered our arguments before all the good times.
“You want to go out today?”
He sucked his teeth.
“Don’t do that. I didn’t say you couldn’t go out.”
“I wanted to go out with you.”
“I know but I have work to do. It’s not my craziness,” I emphasized on crazy, “that’s keeping me inside tonight.” I said with an attitude.
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Yeah, whatever.” I pulled out my laptop to start working. “You know I don’t go around saying woe is me right? Or intentionally act depressed so you can pamper me.”
“I never said you did,”
“You don’t have to.” I started to get angry. “You know sometimes I just don’t know how to get out of my own head right? I don’t intentionally trap myself in my mind.”
“I know Jas!”
“All articles are going to print in two days and I have four things due and that’s why I can’t go out.”
“Jas, I’m sorry. This isn’t easy for me some days.”
I laughed sarcastically. “And you think it is for me? I have gone from not wanting to be bothered some days to most days. It’s terrifying. And today is one of those days where I feel good and you want to claim it as a bad day for me.”
“Okay. So you’re good today. Let’s keep it that way.
But I couldn’t let it go. “You know there are no broken pieces of me for you to put together right? I’m not an “I need a hero” advertisement.”
“I never said that.”
“A relationship doesn’t fix depression!”
“I never said that either,”
He picked up his phone and played a song. He walked over to me to take my hand.
“What are you doing?”
“Dancing. Dance with me.” He said charmingly. He wasn’t the best dancer and he knew it. His dance moves were actually funny. I laughed, left my laptop on my table and joined his dancing party.
“Today is a great day for you. Let’s keep it that way.”
He was always so compassionate. He really knew how to maneuver around my emotions. They were real and mattered to him. When we first started dating he asked what I wanted from him. I told him just his support and patience. And he always provided that.
I decided not to work on the article on anniversaries for Kayla. Why? Because, well self care. One thing about me is I don’t do self inflicted wounds. I’m getting to a point where I know what can trigger my depression and I refuse to trigger it for anyone.
Hey, are you still coming tonight? Stacy texted me later that night.
Yeah, I’m about to leave.
I took that as my cue to get out of bed and actually get ready for our friend’s Nikki’s kick back. I really wasn’t in the mood to go but I promised Nikki I would be there. I took my time getting ready, settling on a simple outfit. I finally hit the road thinking it’s just going to be another event where I can’t wait to leave to come back home to do nothing.