I have the worst super power ever, you guys.
It manifests itself every month, and it's the ability to consistently and completely forget that I even have a menstrual cycle, much less when it's about to start.
This feels appropriate here.
Thanks to an ablation years back I don't bleed much - if at all - but I still get the full force of all those jerkwad hormones running amuck, setting fire to the virtual curtains of my metaphorical Happy Place. And since those crank up way in advance of Day 1, it's a real sneak-attack situation.
Now, before you yell at me, I do keep a calendar. In the kitchen. Which I forget to look at.
So every month I'll be blissfully bopping along with my "s'all's good"s and my "emotional stability," when I'm suddenly clothes-lined by what I like to call the Grumpies, because that puts a cutesy face on the black pit of rage-soaked misery and sudden onset desk naps.
Usually after that first day I realize what's going on and take steps to mitigate the fallout (cough cough PILLS cough), but I'm not gonna lie: getting there is a rough ride.
Cut to last week, when The Day had arrived, I of course had no idea, and John and I had a reader meetup to get to.
Now cut to the car ride there, where things were already tense because of those rascally lil Grumpies, and I was tired and hungry and attempting to eat a McDonalds hamburger.
As (bad) luck would have it, this was the first time in recorded history that a McDonalds hamburger was not only hot, but burn-my-fingers hot. So I fumbled the wrapper, yelped at the sudden burn, and then I kid you not, peeps, that burger TOOK FLIGHT.
It sailed through the air, the burger patty somersaulting free from the bun, and all three pieces landed - ketchup side down, natch - on the car floor in front of me.
"POOP!" I shouted, because no matter how angry or frustrated I am, I NEVER admit to swearing on the internet.
John, who was driving, reached a red light and stopped the car. He leaned over, and together we considered the burger pieces on the car floor. A long moment passed.
John started to chuckle. It rumbled through his chest, eventually erupting into an all-out belly laugh.
I started to sob.
If you'd asked me why I was crying at that moment - and if I'd been able to answer - I'd have told you it wasn't over a spilled burger. It was over a million tiny guilts and frustrations and inadequacies. Because depression - even a temporary, hormone-sparked brush with it - puts a wide-angle lens on your life. It zooms out and shows you every failure, not just the one right in front of you. Depression whispers, "You're about to disappoint everyone, just like ALL THESE OTHER TIMES which I will now conveniently play for you in high-def here in your brain." And boom, you're off, reliving the worst moments of your life over and over and over again.
I stared at that silly hamburger on the floor and relived a boss screaming at me that I was fired. I felt the helplessness from when John was deathly ill in the ICU. I saw in distorted detail how awful I looked in that last picture someone posted online, and hated every part of myself for not trying harder. I felt the terror of my last panic attack, the loss of the last time John and I argued, the guilt over my agoraphobia keeping us from traveling. I stared into that wide angle lens and could find no hope, no reason to keep going.
Because depression lies.
I learned that from The Bloggess, and in dark times I cling to those two words: Depression lies. Our feelings lie. That wide-angle lens is a lie, a one-sided distortion that will only drag me down further the longer I look into it.
John and I eventually made it to the meetup, where I felt even more guilty and puffy and inadequate, but I was there and I smiled and I did my best. Then I came home, took my meds, pet the cats, and slept it off.
The next day was better.
The day after that, better still.
Remember that, peeps. Remind each other. Remind me.
And while you're at it, maybe remind me to to watch the calendar better next month. Eesh. (Or, I dunno, you guys have any good apps for that?)