It has been 22 days since I last posted here. It’s not easy for me to fess up to things, especially digitally. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been the older sibling when things that needed confessions came up. It could be because I’ve been told that the only forgiveness I truly need would be from God, and I can achieve that in the confessional. Alas, putting aside those ideas, here I am with a confession: it has been difficult to land on my feet here in Philadelphia.
I love my new little apartment, my wonderful family of four here (two people and two fur babies), and the life we are building. I enjoy my job and – as of this morning – working toward completing more applications for grad school. I have dreams, a mission, a goal in mind. Before today, though, I found it difficult to breach the safe haven of my new little life and venture out into the city, or elsewhere. On certain days or in certain moods, that door seemed more like bars to a comfortable cell than a portal to the outside world.
Perhaps it was my misadventure into Center City alone for an interview – where I got lost due to a wrong turn off the train platform, construction work, and buildings so tall I couldn’t access a GPS signal to guide me to my destination. It might be the simple fact that, out of 12 doorways in my apartment building, I’ve only met one other person who lives in my complex, and I haven’t seen her since that initial meeting. Could be that I miss the easy routine of my life in Vermont as I struggle to create a new schedule here in Philadelphia. Whatever the cause, I had become afraid.
Fear is a powerful thing. It can prevent the strongest of people from acting on the simplest of whims. It suddenly felt like a frightening task not only to venture into Center City, but also to go to the grocery store, or even to walk down to the garbage cans with my trash and recycling. It became energy-exhausting to respond to texts from my friends back in Vermont (and I apologize profusely to those of you who worked so hard to reach out to me during this period of fear and depression). I stopped writing – not only for my blog, but in general; the sun had been obscured by clouds. Slowly, the apartment I have grown to love as my own began to unravel around me as clutter and dirt began to build up on every surface. As someone who has suffered through clinical depression before, I can say with honesty and certainty that my fear had pushed me into a minor depressive episode. There has been a trademark to every depressive episode I have struggled through: clutter, an overwhelming build up of things until it seems impossible to manage. I am a woman who keeps a clean, minimalistic space – when I have no energy to maintain my space in the way I work for and enjoy, I know something is wrong.
There are things I could’ve done differently, yes. There were steps I could’ve taken to prevent falling into such a rut, for sure. There were ways to overcome the irrational fear that I harbored, no doubt. Yet, here I am, writing about how it affected my life and where I am now because of it. Thankfully, there were always rays of sunshine poking their way through the holes in the clouds. I don’t know where I would have been if my parents hadn’t expressed how happy and excited they were for me and my developing life in Philadelphia every time I caught them on the phone. I had, and still have the pillars in my life that are Sawyer, the kittens, and my best friends on the end of the telephone wire back in Vermont. And even when I had no words to write down, I had music.
These realizations came crashing down on me during yesterday’s commute home from work. I had spent the day in the office working on a visual project (Anthropologie’s stores are known for their stunning in-store visual displays) that I couldn’t have been more excited about. But, by the end of the day, I was tired. I wanted to be home. Stuck in traffic on a Sunday, I felt a little lost. As I began to sink into this feeling, however, music came to the rescue. It is impossible to settle on one musical group as my “favorite band” – music in general is something that influences me deeply – but the String Cheese Incident is a band I’ve always loved, have seen live, and continue to follow to this day. My favorite song by SCI came on the radio, miraculously, and suddenly, the traffic dispersed and there was clear road in front of me. I turned the sound up, rolled the windows down and drove. As I did, the sinking feeling I had felt so often this past month whisked out the open window with the breeze.
When I got home, I turned on more music and cleaned the stack of dishes in the sink. Then I cleared out the fridge of food that had gone bad only to wait too long to be cleared away. After that, I reclaimed my marble counters and soaped them down. Then, I relaxed. I ate leftovers for dinner and went to bed at 10. How amazing, the power of music!
I confess to you that fear weighed me down. I confess that my transition to life in Philadelphia could’ve been easier, that I had hoped it’d be smoother. I confess also that without these challenges, I wouldn’t be standing where I am – a woman who has conquered her fear and her depressive episode.
Today, I woke up with a previously unimaginable feeling – weightless in my bed. The heft of my depression had finally disbursed. This morning, I have written, I have contacted my friends at home in Vermont, and I have collected the scattered about cat toys. Once I finish this piece, I will vacuum. I will make the bed, fluff the pillows, fold the throw blanket. With the windows open and music turned up, I will clear away the clutter of my episode.
Then, I think I’ll venture out for some groceries.