I washed my car today.
Sure, that’s an entirely innocuous thing. People wash their cars everyday, whether they suds it down in the driveway with a little bit of elbow grease, or they run it through an automatic wash and let the machines do it for them. It’s normal. Usual. Life maintenance.
But I spent all of 2015 as a prisoner in my own mind, the culmination of several years descent into depression. Normal, everyday things didn’t get done. I didn’t clean, whether it was my office, my altar room, or my car. I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was sleep, safe in my blanket fort and dream world where my emotions couldn’t destroy me. Everything was hard, and I really needed easy to survive.
I’m two months medicated now, and the results have been staggering. I’m a different person. No, scratch that, I’m not a different person – I’m the beginnings of the old Heather, my sharp, painful edges smoothing out, watercolor-melting into the masterpiece that is the real me, the me recently trapped inside by the depression monkey on my back. I’ve seen it happening in bits and pieces: a feeling here, a laugh there, an old desire or dream surfacing from its dormant state.
I sat in my car alone. Content to be alone, to listen to Gaelic Storm sing about “one more day above the roses” as the suds covered my windshield in a cotton candy layer. The soothing whoosh of water spray, different octaves on different areas of the car, stirred a memory.
I remembered twenty years ago, twenty-five years ago, sitting in an automatic wash with my momma as she kept her police cruiser clean. She did that a lot; Momma’s always been one for appearances, for making sure her cop car stayed clean, her uniform pressed, her behavior moral and ethical and professional. As a young woman in law enforcement, she had to hold to a higher standard, to prove she could operate on level with the men in a male-dominated career.
Here I was, the same age as she was back then, washing my car and enjoying the sights, the sounds, the same as I had back then with her. And I felt real joy. True joy, as I had as a child. I smiled and soaked in every moment of that wash and felt like a little girl again.
I felt like me.
Do I wish I’d gotten antidepressants sooner? Sure. But I wasn’t there yet. You can only go so far with support; you have to help yourself. Life is about you and only you. You have to give yourself permission to feel and permission to try again.
Pills aren’t a magical, perfect solution. I still have bad days when I want to retire to the blanket fort and forget everything. Those days are fewer now, and they’re shorter. The meds are taking me 60% of the way, but that 60% is everything to my world right now.
60% drives me to write.
60% allows me energy to run my business.
60% gives me five blissful moments in a car wash to relive the innocence, joy, and unbridled creativity of my childhood. To feel that magic and know that little girl isn’t gone. Not completely. She’s 60% of the best of me, and she’s come back.