Bonfire of the Vanities

Today is the hardest day.

There is no one obvious reason for that. But today, I have to keep reminding myself that there are obvious reasons to keep going.

And the absurdity of that gives me pause. Because of course there are obvious reasons to keep living. There are so many wonderful people in the world. And animals. And missions. And foods. And plants. Bodies of water. You get the picture. I could list, and list, and list, all the things that I love, and still never remember them all. Being face to face in the past month (in the excavation of all the papers and projects, of drawings and diaries, that my parents saved – over twenty years’ worth!) with stages of my life, literally, has reminded me both of who I am and who I’ve always been.

And that’s been good…and bad.

On Sunday, when Josh and the boys went to his mother’s, I made myself go to the garage and face the piles. I separated each paper out and weighed its importance. With each layer, I watched myself grow up – watched my gross motor skills unfold into ever-finer versions, watched my artwork skill level stay pretty much the same. I saw my difficulty in writing capital J’s that faced the right way morph into careful cursive, then girly 80s teenage cursive in ink of aqua and pink and purple. I read what was maybe my first ever diary entry, made carefully on October 19, 1983. I was eight, and had just learned that my grandfather and best friend had died suddenly the night before of an aneurism. I read my first-ever fiction story, “My Life as a Mug,” which is about exactly what you think.

And then, I started a bonfire and burned all the excess, saving one or two things from each stage of life. It was a cleansing process, but also a sobering and draining one. I knew that there would never be a point in my future life in which I was like, “Let me make my very impressive point with a visual aid: this mediocre math paper from when I was 12.” But there’s still something about knowing that it was lost forever that felt very permanent.

See, it’s been a gradual lowering of the curtains on my will to keep moving forward this year, something that makes me completely normal. And I don’t want the stupid curtains to lower, but god, they’re heavy. But I still try in myriad ways.

Every day, I record things that I’m grateful for in my gratitude journal. But at the close of every day, it’s a little more like the intro in Tales from the Darkside when everything goes, well, Darkside.

Every day, I try to make micro choices for the better. But every night, it’s hard to even move.

And so now, today, I’m making one more huge push to choose well with the writing of this post. Today, a day in which the sun is beaming relentlessly, yet the temperature is reasonable – a crazy rarity in a Missouri August. My husband is finishing up the new shower, meaning that, for the first time since I moved here, we can actually shower in our bathroom. We have tree guys here, actually cutting down limbs that have needed cut for, easily, three years.

And on the other side, there is the persistence, and permanence, of loss. I’ve lost three very important people to me this summer: one to death, two to life choices that led them down different paths. Because, obviously, I’m not the only person struggling through this landscape. And, obviously, I can’t control anyone but myself.

But when you’re depressed, really depressed, the enormity of realities weigh so heavily that changing them, or even looking at them realistically, feels impossible. Everything feels impossible. Applying for jobs and hearing nothing gets old. Being glad that you hear nothing because you have no idea if that work environment is safe, then feeling guilty that you feel glad because you need money, gets old. Watching those around you work productively and measuring yourself against them, even though you know better, gets old.

Our house is organized. Our yard looks great. Our plants are thriving. I’ve done everything I can do here, given what I have to work with; thrown myself into every project I can to stave off the existential dread. I’ve researched gut health and how it might be affecting me chemically. I’ve read up on mind-body connections, reached out to friends, looked at hundreds of memes, written every day, taken online classes.

But I’m tired, boss. I’m so tired. And so tired of being tired. As much as I know mental health should be taken just as seriously as physical ailments, I’m still embarrassed. I still don’t want to tell anyone.

So I’m telling everyone.

If you’re out there, and you’re reading this, and you’re struggling, please know you’re not alone. There are so, so many of us right there with you. There are so, so many of us really, really struggling to get through every day, and sometimes every minute.

And we all want to keep you around.

Song of the day: My favorite song, Where Is My Mind, The Pixies. I love this song. I love every version of it. The original is great, but this one by Maxence Cyrin is so hauntingly beautiful, as well.

Comic of the day: Hyperbole and a Half. The stories about depression really, really resonate. Thank you, Allie Brosh.


I start every day vowing to become healthier and end every day by zeroing out my fridge.
That's the kind of self-sabotage that forms the core of my being.
You know what I'm good at, though? Spinning words into a magical skein that envelopes you in success. Let's talk about that first, and if snacks end up happening, so be it.

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  1. it gets better.

    1. It does. It really does. Thank you.

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