One night just before Christmas, I had a dream.
In the dream I am back in my hometown, outside at my father’s house. I am standing on a sand dune that doesn’t actually exist, but this is a dream so work with me here. I’m standing on this sand dune with someone who used to be a friend, but I’m not so sure they’re a friend any more, not sure if they’ve been a friend for many years. Not sure I’ve been a friend either, to be fair. But either way, we’re standing on this sand dune and suddenly I realize that a sand dune isn’t all that stable and I think to myself, this can’t be safe, and I say to my friend that I think the sand dune could collapse, and just as I say it the dune gives way and I am swallowed by the sliding, disappearing sand and I’m suddenly buried, I can feel the tons of sand falling on me, entombing me alive under a pile that I could not possibly climb out of. And the sand stops moving, and it’s quiet and it’s silent, so silent, and I can’t move, and I try to pull in my arm or leg and I can’t, there is too much weight, too much sand on top of my body and and a dawning horror washes over me and I think, this is it. I’m going to suffocate, run out of air. This is how I am going to die.
Then I wake up.
I can’t shake it, this dream. I return to it every day, that feeling of terror and hopelessness and helplessness and fear and sadness. And every day, it’s with me as I read the news, learn of the dreadful ways in which people can destroy each other in an instant. It’s with me with every piece of unbearably sad news I hear. It’s been reinforced by the fact that it’s January and the days are short and cold; by the fact that we are in the middle of an enormous life transition; by the fact that I’m getting older and mortality is suddenly far less abstract than it once was.
And then here is the part where I identify this for what it is: a garden variety depressive episode, triggered by That Motherfucking Asshole January and its Stupid Short Days And -20 and WTF Is With All This Snow, with a side dish of We Have A Lot Of Shit Going On. The identification of it does, in fact, make it a little easier; if I can get out of my own heavy head and recognize that my brain is just fucking with me, then I can snap out of it at least enough to tell it to go fuck itself right back and get on with things. Well, sort of. I can get my work done, get my kid to school and back, keep us fed. So you know, the bare minimum I guess. But the house is a disaster, I snap too easily and have no patience for anything or anyone, and commercials are making me cry.
So the fact that this dream, and everything else, is lingering with me isn’t so much a harbinger of actual doom as it is my brain lying to me, like Jenny says.
But still, acknowledging it isn’t making it go away. It’s making me realize that life isn’t exactly hopeless, true, but it’s not making it any easier to get out of bed in the morning or load the damn dishwasher. I’m like one of those commercials about depression where Very Sad People mope around in their Very Sad Homes, like in the one where the dog looks forlornly at their depressed owner and the owner can’t get out of the chair and the dog is all PLAY WITH ME PLAY WITH ME PLAY WITH ME and the owner is all, dude, this chair owns my ass right now. What I didn’t quite realize, though, is that the person in the chair not only can’t get out of the chair, they currently actively despise themselves for not being able to get out of the chair. They feel unbearably guilty about the fact that all the damn dog wants is to someone to throw the ball, how fucking useless are you, you can’t even throw the ball for the stupid dog, you suck as a dog owner and you suck at life.
They don’t put that part in the commercials. Probably the commercials are too short. That’s it.
How do you snap out of a sad funk? I need ideas. Because telling myself to snap out of it doesn’t seem to be doing it.