It starts off as a sort of sadness that I can’t quite identify. It becomes more of an emptiness. Heaviness! That’s what it is. It’s not really sadness or emptiness at all. It’s heaviness. Heavy and slow, my inner reality becomes lead. The world outside my body continues to swirl, but inside, it feels like I’m walking through jello. Thick, heavy, awkward. Tears are just a blink away. I’m tired. Very tired. I wake up and my teeth are sore from gritting them so hard. Even my teeth feel heavy.
I never know when it’s going to hit full on. It’s always waiting there in the background, like a shadow in the darkness. I can’t see it, but I can feel it. It’s always there. I’m not sure when it started. Maybe it’s always been there. I can’t remember ever being free of it, the weight, like an overloaded backpack that I never take off.
I feel it deep inside my ears, shifting thickly with every move. Hot lava. Sound turns up the heat. The TV is suddenly too loud. My tongue feels larger than normal and talking is difficult. I become very quiet. It even invades my dream-life, curling up with me in bed and whispering in my ear. I dream I’m falling, always falling, or that I can’t make my legs move to walk normally. I’m slow and people watch me, whispering. There is no one to help, nothing they can do. I’m alone in my struggle.
I wake up and the tears come as soon as I open my eyes. I can’t explain it, but it’s too much for me to face the day, so I call in sick. I spend the day in bed, in and out of disturbing dreams, crying when my eyes open and then quickly closing them again.
My dogs are a blessing. They sense that it’s here again and they are calm and quiet, occasionally nuzzling me to remind me that they need me. They are the one thing that I need, the one thing that keeps me grounded. I have to come back to life to feed them and let them outside and love them. They need me and keep me from drowning in the heaviness. They remind me that I will be okay.
I will survive this bout. I will win this battle. Winning means that I will put on my happy face this evening and act normal, wash clothes, make dinner, laugh. I will set the alarm and go to school and teach like normal tomorrow, like I didn’t just spend a day in bed, crying, like I’m not made of concrete. I will force the shadow back into the darkness where others can’t see it, but I know it’s there and will visit again.