You wait, too.

I think it’s funny that the dog got kennel cough and then I got sick. Did she give me kennel cough? Why am I still ill and she’s running around like a maniac? Is it karma? Does the dog have better health care than I do? She got a vet appointment, I got a cough drop.

This is how it is. This sideways life. In fact I can’t even do mental illness in a regular way. I get depressed the way some people get the flu. I start out not being able to remember anything–words, what I walked across the room to do, what the end of the sentence I just started was supposed to be.

Next, I get body aches like the latest virulent influenza or maybe the way you felt after a 90s step class. Why is it the worst in my arms? Are my arms somehow the flailing noodles of hope and my riddled brain hollers “hold ‘em down, they’re goin’ rogue!”

Then I start to speak like those stupidly narrated TikTok videos, all mechanic and robotic. “Why-do-you-want-to-go-to-the-store, we-have-sandwiches-for dinner.”

Once I notice the memory, the arm pain, and the monotone, it’s like a big switch is thrown “ok, fellas, bring it all on, time for the wretched intense mood wash and the hopeless spiral, oh and, hey there, don’t forget to pour on the insomnia extra heavy now, wouldn’t want any sleep to get in the way of the slide.”

There we go. There it is. It’s all over. A depressive episode is in full swing. Yes, I know that sunlight and exercise and really healthy food would help, but that’s the thing. I’m depressed. I’m strapped to the bed or buried under four blankets on the sectional. I’m down. Doomscrolling, Doritos, and dark rooms are the daily special and in fact, the only thing on the menu.

After decades of practice, I do have some tools in the old toolbox that, when I can remember, help pry me out of the bed and off the couch. I keep Ellen Fourney books close and even if I can’t actually remember all the things that her awesome creature and the brilliant acronym SMEDMERTS stands for, I flail around and can usually kind of remember some of the words– sleep, meds, eat, something, something, move faster than a lazy dog walks….and if I can hang on to one of those it can be a toe hold to scrape out of the hole or stop the spiral a little. I clean out one part of one drawer. I put on make-up and smear or spray or spread on something that smells good someplace on my body. I wear the softest, comfiest clothes I can pull out of my closet.

And I wait. Waiting is the hardest part. When I broke my wrist, I got a cast, and meds and ice and a sling. Sometimes I think that this hurts more. But there’s not a cast or a pain reliever for this wretched place. I take my meds, and I do whatever I can manage from the list of things to do. But the truth is, like my broken wrist, really, I just have to wait.

Now, you wait, too. Hear me? You wait, too.

Published by Kari Kopnick

Pacific Northwest pluviophile, empty-nester with a soft spot for small dogs and a very patient husband.

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