Shadow days

A lot of times when I try to describe my depression (I emphasize mine because another’s case doesn’t necessarily manifest the same) I struggle. “How can I explain something I don’t even fully understand?” I question myself. Well I try the best I can…all the while thankful for my active imagination.

I call it (dun-dun-dunnn!): The Shadow.

Those days where everything on the outside is fine and my life looks fine and the customer service people are even being nice, I feel it. It’s connected to me and I can’t step or run away. I can laugh and enjoy myself, but in the pause of a breath, it’s in my field of vision again..reminding me. 

The only time I don’t feel it is when I can’t feel anything…The Shadow has finally caught up and enveloped me. It’s wet and heavy and I’m a sinking boat beneath it. These are the days that I exist as a part of the couch. I become a fixture, an almost inanimate object in my own life. 

 The dark and oily Shadow is more familiar to me than the sound of my own name, yet I resent its presence and the effect it has on me. 

I like to imagine my daily little pill dressed up like a medicinal Mr. Spock…guarding my brain’s rusty-hinged door with a straight face and serious determination. 

Like this. 

Simon says: Freeze. 

It was the morning of the first day of third grade at Seoul American Elementary School (a DOD school in South Korea). I had on my favorite shirt and new shoes. I was ready. I clutched the straps of my backpack and headed excitedly to school. I couldn’t wait to see my friends after the summer and I got off of the bus and made my way to my classroom. 

The closer I got, however, the more I started to doubt myself. With every step, this paralyzing fear started to encroach upon the edges of my mind that by the time I was standing outside of the classroom, there was no way I was going inside. My back pressed hard against the brick wall of the schoolhouse. I closed my eyes and prayed that I would just meld with it; become invisible. 

The teacher finally noticed a little girl attached to her classroom door as she tried to close it after the bell rang. After quite a lot of coaxing, I finally slid into my assigned seat, defeated and embarrassed. 

That’s the earliest memory I have of dealing with anxiety. It would be a very long time before I could identify what exactly happened and why. 

I am many years older now, but I can still relate to that girl trapped in her own mind, unable to move. In many ways I haven’t changed at all.