The breakdowns have started happening more and more often. At first, they were mostly happening in the hospital. After two months of living in a place that smelled like chemicals, fake flowery cleaning agents and poo, it was understandable how one could become depressed. But then Alan was released, began a new chemo plan, and still, the depression lingered. I decided at first to give it time. Maybe it would get the hint and pack its things and go. So I pretended like it wasn’t really a problem, until one day when Alan couldn’t get out of bed. That was when I decided it was a real problem and went through the list of symptoms I had noticed. When I got to the end, I was reminded of that commercial for depression meds — where does depression hurt? Everywhere.
It is there nearly all the time now — when we wake up, when we go for walks, when we watch TV, when we go out to eat, when we are getting ready for bed. A dark cloud hovering over our heads and carving a hole in Alan’s chest.
Sometimes I will convince him to go do something fun with me lest we might both fall into a bottomless, heartless pit of sorrow where there is no internet connection or even any gummy bears. These “fun” outings are fun in a very different, non-traditional kind of way. A sort of fun that involves me pointing out all the fun aspects of what we are doing, in case they are not readily obvious to him. “Look at that man selling ice cream in his truck. We could go buy some and eat it over there! See! Fun! How fun would that be?” I say it all in a few octaves higher than my normal voice and open my eyes wide for emphasis. Perhaps I could sear fun into him, so much fun that there is no room left for any sadness at all. I make great scenes of enjoying things and encourage him to do the same. “MmmMmmm,” I might say after eating a slice of pizza. And then I will follow that up by rubbing my stomach in a circular motion, the way we were taught to express our satisfaction and enjoyment of food when we were younger. When I look to see if he is buying it, I will see that he has eaten a pepperoni and maybe a bit of sausage.
If I try hard enough, I might get Alan to buy it for, oh, ten, fifteen minutes. On Saturday, though, I’d say the Feeling OK Streak stretched out for maybe even an hour.
Have you ever felt the hole in your chest? What did you do to make it better?