I’ve never been mauled by a bear, but I have two cats which is kind of similar. Some mornings, my two little knife-babies will dash around the apartment with no regard to property, consequences, gravity, or me. Looking at myself after a few hours trying to nap on the couch, it’s easy to think that maybe I’ve been attacked by a small, relatively impotent bear. I’ve got cuts and tears and punctures, and there’s also this vague feeling that I’ve been absolutely, unequivocally defeated by something stronger and cuter. When the scratches gets to be too much, I lock myself in the bedroom, hide under the blankets, and try to fall back to sleep.
If someone looks at me closely, I think they can tell I have cats. I’ve got the telltale thin silver lines from healed scratches. I’m careful where I walk from years of careless stumbling over innocent napping forms. I wear a lot of black, and that shit doesn’t lie if you’ve got hair on you. I like that people can look at me and know that I’m a shameless cat lady.
It’s weird that other things aren’t as obvious.
I feel like there shouldn’t be a sliver of my body that isn’t marked with something: tattoos, welts, bruises, little specks of glitter of indiscriminate origin. Everything before I went to college would just be burns. But it’s not that easy to look at someone and know what they’ve got going on, or what’s making them tired.
I feel like anyone looking at me lately should have been able to see what was going on. I’ve been taking walks around town, and I keep expecting to see some kid pull their parent’s sleeve and say “look! That person is clearly socially exhausted by constant demands to pretend they’re an extrovert.” Then the parent might say something like, “Oh no, sweet child, clearly they feel like some of the most important parts of themselves are being suffocated by an environment that pretends to want them but actively works to suffocate them.” Then, I don’t know, maybe a bus driver would roll by and say over the radio “Just saw some fuckin’ loser who looked in a mirror for too long this morning.”
It’s probably a good thing that people can’t look at each other and know everything that’s going on in their life. It would have been hard to get through the last three weeks if everyone I work with could look at me and see just how much I wanted to be somewhere quiet and mossy, and far away and preferably around cats.
I needed a little reprieve from being a person, so I took a break from writing. I love my blog and the people I talk to here are a really positive and valuable part of my life, but it’s hard to write and talk and be a person on the internet when I can barely manage to be a person outside of my bed. If there’s anything I’ve learned from being professionally depressed, it’s that a lot of good can come from giving yourself the chance to step away from the parts of your life that won’t fall to bits if you need to breathe. There are things that require we always be present and alive and functional, but not everything should. There’s a difference between the effort that is required of us and the effort we ask of ourselves. I thought I should be able to write every day, work more than I ever have, be some sort of social butterfly, and continue my arduous research to turn every food I used to enjoy into a vegetarian alternative that doesn’t involve dark magic. Looking at all I wanted to do, it kind of reminds me of being a shitty freshman and trying to be social (drink near people) keep up with my homework (math doesn’t count) and remain somewhat healthy (sleep at least twice a week). In both cases, it didn’t work out. Freshman me burned out and started being bad at everything, and modern me was starting to think of writing as an obligation and work was taking more than its fair share of mental space. So I took a break from what wouldn’t crumble without me.
Taking a minute–or a week–to breathe is something I’m really lucky to be able to do. I can’t stop working or sleeping or spending hours pining over this one really pretty teapot on the internet, but taking a little time off from some of the other things I’ve got going on–even if they’re important–leaves a little more room to recover from the things that are constant and immutable and shitty.
So I’m back. Heavy depression and chronic mopiness are still very much present, but I’m as human as I’ll ever have the chance to be, and I missed this blog. Like watching a show for the second time all the way through, things aren’t going to be exactly the same, but hopefully there’ll still be something to enjoy.
See you all in a few days (Instead of tomorrow because I’m taking better care of myself this time).