Depression / Mental Health

The Party Boat is Sinking

If I squint hard I can see the revelry. The twinkly lights strung about, the people partner dancing in their holiday finest, the waiters stepping deftly around the pushed out chairs draped haphazardly with coats and purses. The air is cold, and the boat makes a roaring wake behind it’s solid steel stern. And then I jump. From the cold deck, where I was standing in my woolen pea coat, the one I bought for freshman year of college, from the trendy Delia’s boutique. With a virtually silent splash, I’m overboard, coat and all, leaving twinkly lights and dancing on the boat, which steadily moves further and further away. And there I am, left in the cold Puget Sound. Treading water, in the dark, wearing heavy water soaked clothes, and no idea where to turn.

January, the month that’s like jumping from a party boat into icy frigid water. Waking up one day with the holiday hangover, that doesn’t even require alcohol.

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Winter Quarter is the same as Fall, but with less energy. New students smiling brightly back from their desks. Eager for a new start. I stand in front of them and say, “the fact that we’re all alive is a success,” in discussing the reasons they left high school early. Success has been prescribed for them, and they’ve felt the pinch, like clothes bought a size too small. The trees on campus are stark, and the January fog has rolled in, thick, lending a general haziness to the normal bustling of activity between my office and the classroom and the student union building. Have we all jumped overboard? Are we all drowning in our woolen coats and the twinkly memory of dancing and dinner speeds quickly away?

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I could cry for anything or everything or nothing in general. 7 days into January and I wonder if my choice to stay away from anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medicine this year is a good one. I’m tired. Not just body tired, but life tired. I prep for my current event discussion for tomorrow’s class, and I’m torn between the Shoreline School District lockdown and the France Terrorist attack, and feel like the world is smashed into a million pieces and, like Humpty Dumpty, can’t be put together again. And then I hate myself for even thinking that, because I witness the tiniest bit of goodness in every daily interaction with people. But the sadness and brokenness I feel from my students, who shared vulnerably their own tales of bullying and being bullies, is so much to witness, that the added layer of world level violence makes me want to lay in bed with my son and snuggle for the rest of our lives. Maybe I should convert back to fundamentalist Christianity, it would at least give me a reason for why the world feels so dark and sad and lonely.

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The lied and said the daylight was coming, that the darkest was already behind us. They forgot to mention that the 20 seconds extra of daylight doesn’t feel like anything. I know that I don’t have to take on all of my student’s sadness, my dad’s sadness, the world’s sadness, but it’s hard not to. When I used to just counsel people I had the amazing ability to simply bear witness to their pain. I’m not sure where that ability went. Maybe it jumped off the party boat, too.

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