After returning from a friend's wedding in Florida, I experienced a couple of sleepless nights. Despite feeling exhausted from the weekend's whirlwind, I couldn't fall asleep. My toddler and four-month-old slept soundly in their rooms across the hall, which only heightened the anxiety coursing through my veins. I couldn't sleep while the babies could.
I wondered what was wrong with me and knew there would be a hellish price to pay in the morning. This happened two nights in a row, leaving me nocturnal and pacing the kitchen at 3 a.m. while my eyes burned with fatigue. I had been awake for 48 hours and was on deadline for a new book, but I knew that working without sleep was impossible. Instead, I focused on getting through the days with my children, putting whatever scraps of energy I had into it. However, I couldn't help but Google what would happen if one stopped sleeping forever, plunging myself into a Reddit rabbit hole and terrifying myself with descriptions of hallucinations and delirium.
As I considered what was manifesting itself as anxiety, I realized it might be a slide back into the depression that I've managed for much of my life. The worst kinds of pain are like that; they dwell in you, buried some place inaccessible, deeper than memory. It's like labor contractions; you forget until you don't.
Depression, the grisly intruder that turns my own mind into a frightening place, had snuck up on me again, like the late November sunset. The cottony sky turned suddenly black, extinguishing daylight and encroaching night. It was only 4:26 in the afternoon, but darkness loomed outside the kitchen window, shadowy outlines of skeletal trees filling me with a sense of impending doom.
My son wanted a veggie burger for dinner, so I tossed one on the cast iron pan and listened to it thaw. The sound of olive oil crackling was like nerves on the back of my neck. Despite my son's hunger, my stomach sank and I had zero appetite.
After several months, I feel like myself again, and depression is in the rearview. However, as I go about my life, writing, editing, parenting, and cherishing precious moments with my rapidly-growing children, I carry a warning: depression doesn't care how happy you are. It doesn't discriminate and can manifest in various ways. It can look like rock bottom or appear when everything seems to be going well, as it did for me in November when I was capping off a year of highs. I now have a better understanding of this discrepancy, which affects the 280 million people worldwide who suffer from depression in different ways.
On a Sunday in March, the clocks were set back, and the following evening, I attended a 6 p.m. yoga class. When I left the studio just after seven, it was still light outside, and the air was filled with something that promised spring. As I drove home, my body and mind buzzing with endorphins, I remembered what my father had said to me back in November: "Light is coming." As it turns out, he was right.