Monday, May 24, 2010

Make A Joyful Noise

        Spent a bad weekend curled into a fetal ball eating pocky. That's leetle  Japanese chocolate dipped pretzel sticks for you folks not in the know. It was a rainy weekend, but that wasn't the source of my angst. I just suddenly got the feeling that nothing was quite right in the world and nothing could make it better. Not even two boxes of pocky and that usually solves everything. I had taken a walk earlier in the rain, which normally I love, but which in this instance only made me wet, and cold. I came home feeling anxious, lonely, and unaccountably tense, almost like I was having a breakdown.  Even my skin itched.
Have you ever gotten the feeling that somewhere just out of sight, behind the sets, and the bright lights that fool us into thinking we live in "reality", somewhere the real world is just falling apart? It's a consequence of being separate. Of feeling like other people aren't really real. It's that I'm the only real person in the universe, "One is the loneliest number" feeling you get when depression looms over you and you wish one person would acknowledge you.
     I think other people are better about combating this feeling than I am.  It has always seemed to me like every one else is just so happy (hawk, spit- ptooey!). And I'm not- not all the time, not exuberantly happy like some people. It quite literally makes me want to go to sleep and not wake up some days. I sometimes have the feeling that if I just went to sleep in my bed one night and didn't wake up, my body would just evaporate. And I would be okay with that.
     Feeling that disconnect is not a modern problem, but it is a growing one. It's so easy nowadays to be apart from people physically, and emotionally. Here in Japan, it's a legitimate mental illness with an "exotic" name. People who refuse to leave their homes here are called hikikomori- literally  "pulling away",  or "to be confined" ( Suffering from acute social phobias, they withdraw and repel any attempt to bring them out  of their isolation.  I felt a little taste of that this weekend . It's a horrible, cramped, suffocating feeling to be cut off from the rest of the world. But I was lucky- just when I needed it, someone noticed me- I got an email, a smile from a neighbor, the rain stopped- all at once. As bad as my two days were, I can't imagine  how someone else who is struggling to live that way now, has been struggling, will still be struggling in a few years, feels. I made a choice a few years ago to do whatever it took to overcome my own depression- but for one weekend, I almost let it get the better of me. In the end, by luck, happenstance, pure coincidence- I didn't. (And those of you who know me, know I don't believe in any of those things.) It wasn't luck at all. It was love- love for myself. I didn't want to lose who I have become. Love from  my family- who sent that email just in time. Love for life- because I'm not done here yet, and I don't want to miss out on anything ever again. You don't have to believe that what I suffered was "bad"- I'm sure some people won't have anything but condemnation for someone who spent a "weekend" depressed. It was my battle- not yours. I fought it- not you. More important than your measurement of my pain, is my measurement of my success. I didn't give in , (or at least not for long). This morning I got up, and went to my job, and spoke to friends and the world didn't wobble. That's my victory. And yes, it was one weekend...after years of being numb, unable to sleep in my own bed because of panic attacks and being  unable to go to work without medication. One weekend.  I am truly more blessed than I can know or appreciate. Today I heard a song I had never heard before that said exactly what I had been feeling, and miracle of miracles, I was here to hear it.   Tomorrow, maybe I'll be able to sing a song, rusty voice and all- and be glad that I am here to sing it.  There are no coincidences. The war is never over, every battle spawns a new one. But victory can be won. Hope can live in the heart again in spite of the dark spaces. For today, I will whisper my gratitude that one weekend wasn't a year, or a decade, or a lifetime alone. Thank you to everyone who "spoke" to me then - by email, a smile, whatever.Tomorrow, I will raise my voice, or lift my pen, or write one more blog, so that someone else will be able to win their own battle. There are no coincidences- only connections, and consequences. If you have the time and the heart,  make a joyful noise today. You won't  be the only person who hears it.

"I like living. 
I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, 
racked with sorrow, 
but through it all I still know 
that just to be alive is a grand thing."

--Agatha Christie

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