Many years ago, I plummeted unexpectedly into the treacherous, uncertain waters of being in love with a human man.
While that’s usually not the smartest thing to do, it turned out to be nothing but a blessing. It took me totally by accident and much to my distaste, to put it lightly. I had been living as a Depressed Person since childhood prior to the falling-in-love incident, and my sick lifestyle, while horrible in many respects, was all I knew. Affection for another person posed an eventually fatal threat to my meanness and my hatred for humanity. Depression taught me to be guarded and irritable, and love changed all that.
At first, I wasn’t happy. But I learned to be very, very happy.
Love took the high ground of my emotional state for a long time, but after some years, my illness regrouped and doubled its efforts to break me. It came back with a flaming fury in my very late teenhood, and tried once again to dismantle the love that had taken it down so easily when I was barely more than a child. Depression soon hit me with despair, and helplessness, and failure at all the things that had looked so hopeful to me in my senior year of high school. I left college, quit several jobs in a row, and was generally reduced to being just a Depressed Person again.
Then came the apathy, which is usually my long-term response to a depressive episode. Shutting my diseased feelings down is better – or at least, more survivable – than living with the pain of being acutely mentally ill all the time, but it also means shutting down my passions and exuberances. So, I flushed away my melancholia, and my joy with it.
It was a hugely risky move. The man I love has always been there for me, standing proud and depression-proof, so I took a chance and gambled that he would still be there, standing proud, when I cleansed myself of feeling.
For a while, it seemed I was wrong. I had gambled him away.
The magic of living with love faded ever so slowly, until I more or less woke up one morning to realize it was gone, just as I had woken up one morning so many years earlier to notice it was suddenly there. The air didn’t crackle anymore, and the sky drained to a dull turquoise. Our music was a memory. All the art I had made for him retreated into a past life.
In an apathetic way, I was heartbroken.
When his sins started to cut through his kindnesses in my memories, I knew I had lost him. His photograph held no presence on my dresser, and I felt totally alone for the first time since I saw him so many years ago.
I wondered wearily whether he had dropped out of my being entirely, or if my Depressed Person habits had just obscured him temporarily. Maybe he was still recoverable.
I continued to work on the art.
Then, earlier this week, a miracle began occurring, like a shadow of the one that had overtaken me when I was hardly a teenager: the brightness of my emotions for him began to spark and glow. Ash to embers and embers to flame, he must have seen the light from the door I left ajar for him, and returned to me.
I have no idea what prompted it, but I don’t really care right now.
Quietly, I’m ecstatic.
My love for him has always burned in waves, cooling for a while and then coming back to me again in brilliant colors, but it had never abandoned for so long, or so convincingly. But now our music means something again, and the art is inspired. Static feelings are reanimating. I feel the staggering urge to share this emotional state, and tell the world that he is once again standing with me, proud and depression-proof.
He’s my emotional litmus test. If I send him my heart and it comes back red, I know I’m in the clear. Blue, and I might be in trouble – but it doesn’t warrant an appeal to my psychiatrist until my heart returns to me clear when I dip it in his waters. When I can’t feel anything, I can’t love him.
But love him is the first thing I always do when my embers start to glow again.