For the Long Nights
I know, they come more often than not these days. The nights that never seem to end. The days that feel just as long: the way 24 hours has never felt so heavy. And each day, it seems there is an added weight to bear. You remember–nights didn’t used to be this long, did they? There were days filled with the summer sun shining through the curtains: an invitation to come out and play, and it was so easy then to oblige. You remember nights spent stargazing with friends and long midnight drives with no destination in mind. It didn’t matter, though, you weren’t lost then. The nights were short, not quite long enough.
And, still, it was there–gnawing at the back of your mind–a reminder that this sickness is incurable, that it will come back no matter how much you deny the fact. The nights will be long again, the days, unending. You will once again suffocate underneath the weight of it all. You tried, oh, you tried so hard to hold onto those short days. You took pictures in your mind, snippets to grasp for the nights to come. The way the salt water tasted on your lips, the dull ache of your sunburn–proof you had found sunlight and felt warmth at one time. You remember the scream you let out of joy at crossing the finish line, the sound of your best friend singing along to your favourite song. Now, that song is overplayed and you always turn the radio off when it comes on.
Maybe you don’t want to remember. The stark contrast of those days to these ones just brings more heartache. But, you also remember days when you couldn’t remember the good ones. Nights when there was no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope to grab hold of. So maybe remembering is okay. But even this is painful: a reminder that it’s not quite that bad, but it always gets worse. It always comes back, each time far more difficult to navigate than the last.
Yes, these nights are the long ones. And this is for those long nights. For the times when depression is your best friend, your lover, your caretaker. It takes such good care of you, wrapping you in blankets and turning off all the lights. It brings sleep for days and takes it away for weeks. It turns the face in the mirror into something you cannot recognise–a lifeless form staring back at you.
This is for when it reminds you that it can get worse, will get worse, every day is worse. For when it makes baths lukewarm and somehow impairs your ability to taste or to remember to taste, or to remember to do anything but sleep and cry and repeat.
This is for the nights when anxiety reaches out to you with its lanky fingers, slowly wrapping around your neck, taking the breath from your lungs. This is for when your ears try so, so hard to hear your loved ones calling out for you, but can’t hear anything over the sound of that darn racing heartbeat. This is for the sleepless nights spent going over everylittlething everylittlething everylittlething because something went wrong somewhere. For when your stomach turns into knots you can’t figure out how to untangle.
This is for the nights when the two intertwine and attack at once. For when you feel worthless for not getting out of bed, but yet cannot make yourself wake up. For when you fear your illnesses are driving everyone away yet you are still unable to make a phone call. When it seems all forces are against you and all you can do is take it.
Yes, these nights are the long ones. And they only seem to get longer, I know. We never foresee the short ones. We never anticipate the good, but sometimes it can sneak up on us. But this isn’t for the short nights–this is for the long ones.
It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to feel the things you do. You’re not broken, you’re not a mistake. It’s okay to ache, it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay. You are okay. And maybe you’re not okay today, maybe you won’t be okay tomorrow, maybe you won’t be okay this year and that is okay, because some day, some way, you will be okay. And I know that’s hard to believe but I have to believe it is true, because you get up every single day and fight the same battle and you are still here fighting and that counts for something. That means something. And it must mean that some time, maybe not soon, but some time, the nights will be short again–and you will yearn for more hours in the day.
I see you. I know, we’ve all done a very poor job of acknowledging your illness. We’ve all felt the weight of the stigma that surrounds words like “clinical depression”. We’ve all denied our need for therapy or medication because of that stigma at some point or another. I know about the well-meaning people who give you quick verses about the joy that you can never find and how that only reminds you of the sadness. But I see you. I hear you. Your pain is real. You are important. You mean something. You have infinite worth. I once heard someone say, “Since the day you were born, I haven’t taken a breath in a world without you in it,” and that’s stuck with me. I hope it sticks with you today.
You are going to make it. This night is long. This night is unending. Each second takes hours, but you are going to make it out of this. Some day, you will wake up and the sun will shine again. Until then, when the weight is too heavy to bear, I will carry it for you. You’ve carried mine before and that has made all the difference.
Please, hold on, my dear. Tomorrow night might be a second shorter than tonight.