“Have you ever been depressed?” 32,000 feet in the air, my mom turned to me, clear-eyed and interested, and asked me this question.
I thought to myself she doesn’t know? Well, of course, she doesn’t. I don’t exactly broadcast my mental health the way I should. Staring out the plane window, I took a deep breath and responded plainly with “yes.”
The cabin seemed to quiet at the same time and the small amount of turbulence we felt beforehand quelled.
“Really?” She paused, “what does that mean for you?”
I thought this was a great question. See, her asking me this wasn’t entirely unprompted. She was concerned about my aunt who said she was depressed. She asked me for my opinion as someone who has studied various mental health disorders. My mom admitted she didn’t know much about it but wanted to talk through a clear distinction between prolonged sadness and depression.
As is my brand, I had to think for a bit before responding. Leaving her to awkwardly stare at the side of my face as I stared out the window. I found myself trying to relax by looking over the sea of clouds, studying their consistency and the mysteries that lie deep within. With another deep breath, I was ready to respond.
For me, I feel long periods of sadness and frustration. Sometimes, it’s in regards to things I feel I am not achieving; other times, I can’t pinpoint the cause. I don’t want to get out of bed, but I use all the energy I have to summon the strength to get up, get dressed, and get to work. When I come home, my motivation is non-existent. I can easily go a week without showering, cleaning, or checking on anybody. All I want to do is sleep; I can’t always do that because insomnia is knocking on my eyelids. I already don’t want to do most things, but on a good day, I can just roll with it. There are days where I lie on the floor crying because we have to go grocery shopping or we need to do laundry; simple tasks feel so daunting.
Most times, I feel like an impostor. I know it in my heart that I have a good life, job, and more. But there’s a separation, a blurry demarcation line between my physical body and my mental/spiritual self. Sometimes, I look at my hands and I don’t feel they’re mine. There’s a shell around me that accomplishes all the things I wish I did; I have trouble feeling that gratifying sense of completion or fulfillment. However, when something bad happens, then I know that’s what I deserved. I experience every sensation associated with that: sadness, pain, fear. I am constantly battling intrusive thoughts or I feel like I am debating what’s the real me, what I should be worried about, or what feelings are my own.
A single tear rolls down my cheek.
That’s what I should have said.
Instead, my mom reads my silence as not wanting to talk about it and changes the subject. I let her.
I have to let things out in small batches, especially something I have been struggling with for years. I said yes. Mom already knows more than before.
Today, we fly.
Tomorrow, we’ll see how far we’ll go.