Today is the first day of spring, and the sun forgot to show up. Instead, a light rain drizzled down on the city, and while it wasn’t snow, it was still not idea. Even so, as I ran next to Lake Michigan this morning, the birds were out singing and a light wind rustled through the trees. It was a sign that a softer, sweeter time is on the horizon.
It’s been a rough winter. As I eluded to back in December, my husband and I were dealt a major life challenge right before the holidays. Ethan lost his job, and with me being in school full-time, this was a huge blow to us, and it has been a rough few months. His job search led him to a different career path, and we beyond grateful to our families stepped up in helping us pay for some necessities that we can’t cover and our friends who were there to support in this most trying time. However, we are still in it, and while we think we are finally headed down a road to normal, there is never going back to where we were. That’s gone.
Over the last five months, I all I have wanted is for my husband to come home and say he got a new job. Then, the tightness in my shoulders would fade. I could sleep through the night. And, I could go back to being just a graduate student. That moment, though, never came. Like the last time he was without work, he often came close but not enough for the offer.
After one particular rejection, I lost it. I got the news before boarding the train south down into the Loop, and I cried throughout the entire public ride and on the street. I screamed at the sky, wondering why God, the fates, the Universe had been so cruel to my family and I. I stared at my phone, waiting for someone to text me something that would make all the pain and heartache go away. Some friends and family did try to comfort me, but it wasn’t enough. Instead, I went to my favorite fast food restaurant and ordered everything I wanted, and that too wasn’t enough. For months, I had been doing whatever I could to help us fix this – working extra shifts at my part-time job, connecting Ethan to people who might help get him an in, offering suggestions, pouring over our budget – but nothing I did could undo this setback. Which is how I felt that day, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t numb the pain enough. All that was left was to endure it and hold on tight enough to get through the other end.
A depression has taken hold of me. I’ve been entertaining more vices – sleeping, drinking, eating, scrolling, isolating. I have not written nor do I have any nails left. I am close to yelling at strangers and often do yell at my husband. So much anger has popped out of me that it’s surprised even myself. I cry easily or burst into a fit. It doesn’t take much these days to send me into a downward spiral.
I know it’s hard to see why this has bothered me so much. Five years ago, if someone who had said that I would be so upset because my husband lost his job, I would have said, “Wait, aren’t I just happy to have a husband?” This is his problem, not mine, even though I also lost my health insurance and have to pay more for everyday expenses than we planned I would while in school. Also, we come from enough privilege that we are financially OK, and to be honest, I have more money in my bank account now than I did a year ago (does it count if a good chunk of that belongs to the federal government? No? OK, great.).
For a normal person, like my husband, this is a just a hurdle in a long life full of them. It sucks, but you know you will make it out because life often rebounds. He has actually been rather optimistic, and is even happier. However, I have anxiety and depression, so events like this send me into a dark and hairy place. Add school and working two jobs to the anxiety, and you have a tried-and-true recipe for a breakdown. This winter, my head went to a very, very bad place, and there were times I was certain I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I felt unloveable, like I was failing at all things, and that I would absolutely never be OK again.
And right when I thought I could never feel relief again, I decided that I would. I woke up the next day and vowed to be in control of my thoughts and reactions. I could make the universe give me what I want, but I could want what I already had. The sun shined that day, the temps rose a bit, and my shoulders were a bit more relaxed. As the season began to change, so did my soul. If I wanted to be OK again, well I already had everything inside of me to make it so.
It doesn’t quite feel like spring, nor do I feel like myself again, but there are signs both are coming. Like the birds that sang me through my run this morning, as I smiled and thanked the heavens for their song. They were welcoming a brand new season, for me and all of us. I don’t know what summer will bring, but I will greet it with hope.