It happens completely out of nowhere.
You’ve been living in this horrible fog for so long, you’ve accepted it as your normal. Even when depression isn’t demanding every last bit of energy from you, dragging you down into the darkest depths until you’ve forgotten what light felt like on your face, you’ve grown accustomed to the gray that layers itself over everything.
And then, suddenly, it clears up, just for a moment. Just long enough for you to feel the ground shift and see the colors rush back.
This is what happiness felt like.
It always happens almost too quickly for me to understand what’s happening. I hold on to every second of it before it slowly fades back into gray and I’m left with so many questions. Mostly, why? Why now?
I try to keep track of these moments, try to make sense of their patterns and purpose. Sitting in the drive-thru at the Sonic somewhere in Missouri City, Texas, halfway between a bite and a laugh attack. Standing on the seemingly endless steps that probably lead to a temple somewhere in Nara, overlooking the matsuri below me and scoping out the takoyaki stands under a sky blazing purple and pink. Feeling something dark peel away from me as I look at my boyfriend over a tiny table at Bryant Park while he holds my hand and tells me about his creative work. The peace that washes over me as we watch the sunset from the river that evening, the pinks and purples reflecting in our glasses, a New York City day dissolving into the tranquility of that moment.
Oh. I’m alive.
I think depression makes you painfully aware of the feeling of barely being alive, but it’s not so obvious as the moment you realize you’re here. I still don’t know what to do with those moments. I absolutely despise the sensation of falling back into that gray, slowly, slowly, after finally being able to breathe just for a minute. It feels like cruelty to have normalcy dangled in front of my face only to be yanked away the second my fingers graze it.
But I’m also so thankful for those times. Not only because they’re a much-needed break, but because it’s proof that there is more than this. That horrible place where mental illness reigns is not my only destination. I’ve seen and felt that clarity before; it’s only a matter of time before I claim it.