Poetic Prose

Today was a bad day. It was fine.

Today was a bad day. It was fine.

It didn’t start that way. I felt okay this morning, or well, maybe not totally okay. Maybe a little under-the-weather mood wise, like the threat of a fever before a fever: small enough to be brushed off. I’m fine. A little cranky, a little sleepy, but fine.

Dysthymia–the name they call my “baby depression”–is a little like if depression were a flu: when you least expect it (when you have no real reason to expect it, actually), it just…shows up. That fact used to bother me so much, to the point that I spent days picking myself apart in frustration: why couldn’t I just be happy? Why couldn’t I just do the work? Why couldn’t I function the way I was supposed to? 

Nowadays, these sudden bouts of sadness just annoy me, this reminder that I am feeble and human. But while I am young and still idiotic the way young people are (let’s be honest; at this age we’re stupid, but only because we have to be. Because this is the season for learning and honestly we learn best when we make our best mistakes.), I’m old enough to know that being feeble and human won’t change. This is yet another in-between, a sort of emotional second puberty, where I transition from boldly proclaiming invincibility towards acceptance of my inadequacies.

It’s not wrong to not always be enough.

Today was a bad day. But it wasn’t a dark one. I don’t like the weight of that word, darkness, as if clouds don’t lift. Like a cold, this heaviness comes and goes, staying for hours or days or weeks or months but eventually–even if only briefly–leaving. There are times you wake up with the flu. There are times I wake up in the morning and find am wary and defensive, consumed by a need to protect myself from some unnameable thing that will inevitably go wrong.

This is not a “place.” These are simply symptoms. I do not need fixing. I am not broken. My brain is simply telling me it has a flu.

There is no cure for the common cold: it just passes. I drink water. I listen to music. I message a friend–one I know won’t romanticize this, won’t let comfort turn maudlin–and we sigh, accept that sometimes people wake up with bad stomachs and worse colds.

I tell him I don’t want to be kind to myself–I would rather nuke this sadness into submission and why haven’t they made a Berrocca for depressive episodes yet!? He tells me, matter of fact, that I’ll need to accept that I have to be kind to myself, someday. Even if that day is not today.

These things do not necessarily make me feel better, but they make it easier to accept that I do not feel better. That this is what today will look like, for now, and that’s fine.

Sometimes I need the bad days, the way they bring out the worst in me, because I’ve gotten so used to pretending I don’t have issues that I risk letting it get to my head. When I’m having a bad day, the pride and prickliness come to fore, and I am reminded that there are still things wrong with me. That people do have to be patient with me. Eating humble pie doesn’t feel good, but then again I already feel bad, so it’s not like things have changed. Maybe this is what it means, accepting your human frailty: admitting that you’ll still have things to work on, and maybe you’ll never be done working on them.

I can’t work. Today wasn’t as productive as I wanted it to be. The heaviness I feel has me dreading tomorrow, dreading the week after, dreading the endless procession of days the way you do when you face the prospect of having to get up and go even if you don’t feel like it. But that’s life, really: not feeling like going and doing the thing but going and doing the thing anyway because you know you have to. Because it matters. Because knowing it matters means, in a sense, that you want to, and isn’t it nice to know that, in some small way, you aren’t completely a slave to how you feel?

Eventually, I will learn to be really kind to myself. Today is not that day. Today was a bad day.

But it was a start.

~aRT~

DISCLAIMER: This blog reflects my personal experience and is in no way an authoritative account on dealing with mental illness, depression, dysthymia, etc. 

 

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[rambles] Turning

Not to me.
Not to me.
Not for me.

– 
Éponine, Les Misérables

~*~

Your skin burns.  It is morning.

Lately you’ve been learning not to listen to your instincts.  Instinct.  Such an animal word.  You aren’t an animal, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Your eyes glow darkly and your smile is feral and sometimes, sometimes (often) your body sings with wanting but your fine leash of control has worked against all temptation.  So far.

So far.

Today, temptation is a story.  You have a story.

You have a story. It itches to pour out of your fingers, bubbles like soda pop behind lips that want to smile and laugh and tease.  It is a small story.  A funny story.  A story that would do no harm, except the first person you think to tell—want to tell; could tell–is someone you promised to stay away from.

Someone you should stay away from.

So far, control is winning.  Later, you promise yourself.  Later.  When the infection burns out the last of your blood. When you heart learns to stop beating.  When you don’t feel the instinct (that word again) to turn up your lips, reveal teeth better suited to things other than smiling.

When you aren’t quite so blindsided by the way they make you laugh.

Your fingers hover, still longing to make contact, dancing over the letters that spell out a name.  But the urge passes, as it always does.  Your willpower wins again, and by now you’re used to how it never really feels like winning.

Once upon a time you made a choice, or maybe it was made for you.  Once upon a time, you taught yourself to live without sunlight.  You don’t need it, not anymore—the years have taught you to see just as well in the dark—but sometimes you long to stretch your hand out and hold the yellow glow in your palms, pretend it would warm instead of burn.

You think they might be sunlight.  You think you might burn.  Moth to flame, delicate and easily consumed.

Later, you promise yourself.  Later.  When they don’t seem to shine quite so bright.  When your eyes adjust.  When the tides completely turn.

Later, you promise.

Never, you know.

~aRT~

Nakauwi Na (Home. Safe.)

Too many people are dying these days. 

Every day, there’s some new death being talked about on mass (and social) media. In fact, I could be shot dead during one of my nightly Pokémon hunts, and the application of a badly-lettered cardboard sign would be enough to render my murderer a hero-vigilante. (Oo, adik ako, and that I continue to hunt Pokémon despite the potential threat to my life is testament to that addiction. Gotta catch ’em all, after all.)

The last two deaths I paid attention to, though, were thankfully non-violent: my officemate’s grandfather passed away after a long battle with illness, and my mum’s old spiritual advisor died suddenly of what I assume to be heart problems.  Despite the context, both deaths were unwelcome–there is no way to prepare for someone to die. Every time that kind of news hits, it always comes as a shock, as if it were not one of the few inevitabilities of being mortal: people die. 

I don’t dislike death, per se. The fact my life will eventually end feels like a foregone conclusion, considering the amount of running ragged I do. What I hate are death’s circumstances, the why of someone dying rather than the dying itself. If they die in a sickbed, death is cold consolation. If they die young, the fact that life is a sickbed is cold consolation. We’re always having to be consoled for something. Death is always sad.

I guess that’s why I latched on to something that was said during a eulogy for Pastor Doy, my mum’s old pastor: “Nakauwi na siya.” In the context of my Christian faith, such a sentiment makes sense–we see Heaven as “home,” and so death represents a triumphant return to it, free from worries and cares. That image, though, has always been far too dramatic for someone like me, whose life is essentially a sitcom and thus has far too much drama than I could know what to do with. English can sometimes be such an overwrought, austere language. But in Filipino, “Nakauwi na,” isn’t cold consolation; it actually sounds comforting.

There’s something about that word, uwi. It means, roughly, “to return to a place where one comes from.” We could technically use the word alis, “to leave,” to refer to death–“Umalis na siya,”–and we do use pumanaw, which means roughly, “to pass on,” but neither of those words has the same warmth as uwi, which bears the subtext of going somewhere where one is happy to return. For the Christian, that is exactly what death is–going somewhere one actually wants to be, a place that has only ever been approximated in scenes and snippets here on earth. Paradise, it’s called, where there are no more tears past the gate. 

“Nakauwi na,” manages to suggest death–the idea of being absent–in a way that doesn’t have all the melancholy of “passing on,” or “passing away.”  Instead, you imagine a text message call in the middle of storm season, updating you about the whereabouts of one of your friends. “Nakauwi na siya,” it says, and you are instantly relieved. They’re home. They’re safe.

 Life is storm season. Life is the long journey in EDSA traffic. Life is a strange and dangerous country, and a part of us is always homesick. In these circumstances, returning after a journey’s end–especially if it has been a rich one, full of side-quests and adventures–isn’t a totally sad occasion at all. The person is now home, and he is safe. We don’t have to worry about them anymore. 

There are no tears past the gate.

One more thing: When you say “Nakauwi na,” it means you know where that person’s home is. From there, it is not so much of a stretch to imagine you share that home. A person has gone ahead, but eventually you will join them.

One day, “Uuwi ka din,” and you will see a light burning in the window. They will welcome you at the door. You will have stories to tell, and all the time to tell them. 

You’ll be safe. Home.

~aRT~