This must be what clinical depression feels like, and it sucks. My day job's in mental health so I know the diagnostic symptoms -- flat affect, lost enthusiasm for things once enjoyed, either excessive exhaustion or insomnia wracked with circular obsessive thoughts, and unending hopelessness. I feel like someone shut off my inside lights.
When I decided to blog about my daughter's transition to college I anticipated the unexpected. But I never imagined I'd be editing my daughter's college essay via email in between reading in the Las Vegas Review Journal that a 17-year-old lostsoul considered shooting my niece in the back but murdered her boyfriend instead.
I posted the day of the shooting, but deleted it within hours, realizing I should not contribute to any public Outing of my niece, eyewitness to an unsolved homicide. But I'm reposting it now (see below), to explain my writing absence and because suspects are jailed, confessions and other witnesses secured, prosecutions underway, and her name's already seared online. The detective is growing tired of reassuring us that Lindsey's safe, but I'm finally beginning to believe it.
I spent 9 days in Vegas helping Lindsey design a program for the memorial service, purchase funeral attire, take leaves from school and work, reread Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking, drink margaritas, and wrap our heads around the unfathomable. While back home Maddy submitted her application for Appalachian State, drafted other essays, and finished a huge project for English class. I edited Maddy's essays and papers while languishing 8 hours in Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport. I texted Lindsey at least fifty times.
I'm home now and my frustrated daughter is sitting across the room trying to re-compose essay sentences that I suggested need some work. We've hurled obscenities at each other once (a pretty amicable work session for us). But she's determined to finish all her applications today, and I've promised to help. I feel better, benefitting from another unexpected sobbing fit last night, my husband walking in the house to find me crying uncontrollably while cutting broccoli. He patiently and kindly reminded me -- again -- that Lindsey's still alive. I both laughed and felt humbled by waves of illogical emotions. And then finished making dinner.
Here's what I didn't anticipate learning when I started this blog: that overwhelming emotions and symptoms of clinical depression don't follow the beat of logic (although logic does help when reaching for relief). And that gratitude -- the glorious fact that I can still explore college plans with my daughter and my niece -- can feel this good.