the give & the take.

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It is so easy to explain happiness!

Here, I will show you.

I am so happy because my book came out on Tuesday. It was the most perfect day. We woke early and S rolled over and said something like, is there anyone in this bedroom that had a book come out today? and I pretended not to know and then he asked again and I still shrugged and it became a sleepy, half-dreamy game we played until I took my phone off the bedside table and saw so many messages, so many emails, so many kind people all emerging from every corner of my life to tell me I have done a good job. I have put something into the world. I have made a thing. I have seen it through to its creation.

Harder to explain:

The last thought I had on Monday night, the last thought before I let myself slip off into sleep, was: I have actually made it. I did not die before my book came out

Easy to explain:

The overwhelming, heart-pounding, palms-sweating, breath-failing sensation of walking into the first bookstore that carries my book. Seeing it on the shelf in its appropriate alphabetical order. The blue and pink and white of the cover. The gloss and the ghostly stare of the nameless girl on the cover. My whole heart soaring out of my chest, leaving my body to inhabit some space outside of my body, momentarily, floating up like a ballon until finally I catch it in my fingers and wrestle it back into my ribcage. Where it will be safe. Seeing my book on a shelf for the first time. Yes, it is everything I imagined it might be. I stand in the bookstore for fifteen minutes, pretending to be lost.

When I leave, I tell the security guard hi instead of bye. 

Harder to explain:

The suffocation that is almost simultaneous. The hallucination that every single book is a living, breathing creature that has recognized a weak, susceptible host. There are so many books in this bookstore! Thousands? Tens of thousands? I try and count them all but I lose track very quickly. I press my fingertips against their spines and mouth their titles to myself and absorb their colors into my skin. My stomach hurts.

Easy to explain:

The first text message from the first friend to finish my book. It comes at two in the morning her time, eleven at night my time. It says, simply: Loved it.

and I feel this weight lift off my shoulders and dissipate into the air around me. Suddenly it is so easy to breathe! Suddenly breathing is the easiest thing I have ever done. We are all born knowing how to do this! We are all born breathing!

Harder to explain:

I remember then that I was not born breathing. I was born blue, my mother tells me. The color of the hardcover of my book. A bright, brilliant blue.

Oh, my mother said.

Oh, this? The blue? She’ll be okay, the doctor said.

Yes I was okay. But it did not quite come naturally.

Easy to explain:

I have only listened to one album this week, over and over. And when I try to listen to anything else, my ears protest. Like I am maybe conditioning myself to associate good, positive things with this music. I hear the first chords and I remember—this week! Everything has happened! You are the luckiest!

Harder to explain:

My roots have grown but I don’t know where they are. 

Easy to explain:

One by one my friends all visit bookstores and get copies sent to them in the mail and send me pictures of my book on bookshelves and propped up on their countertops or held in their hands. People I haven’t talked to in years buy copies! Friends buy two, three, four and tell me all the people they’re going to give them to. Five star reviews! Tagged Facebook and Instagram posts! Strangers tweeting and Goodreadsing and sending me tentative emails about how strongly they identified with Molly. It is exactly and perfectly true I’m not even sure why I’m sending you this emailIt is three in the morning and I am not-so-quietly sobbing in my lap because this is exactly the book I needed at exactly the right moment telling me exactly what I needed to hear. 

Harder to explain:

The feeling, out of nowhere, of whathaveidone and whatamidoing and whatamisupposedtodnow.

Easy to explain:

I have never taken anything for granted! I have worked so very, very hard at this for so very, very long. I can feel good about the things I have done because of how hard and long I have reached for them!

Harder to explain:

Midnight, one in the morning, two in the morning: but have I really done enough? Couldn’t it always be more? Couldn’t it always be greater?

Easy to explain:

The literal swelling of a human heart. The literal explosion of gratitude. The literal happiest moment in your life.

Harder to explain:

Followed by, perhaps, a moment of incredible, vision-clouding loneliness. But why? From where? Because of what? It is impossible to say. There is no reason for it. You are the silliness, weirdest, most unusual human.

Easy to explain:

Or, okay, you are not so bad. You have ups and downs just like everyone else. You grab on when you can grab on and you let go, sometimes, too soon.

The middle ground/ the diagnosis:

You feel overwhelmed by happiness so much that maybe you are always looking for its opposite. Maybe without this balance you feel too unstable, too unsteady, too easily undone. But maybe what you really desire is to be so wholly happy that it thrums through your veins like something more and thicker than blood. Or maybe what you really desire is to be enshrouded so fully in a shadow that no one else can see you. Or no. Maybe what you really desire is that exact center point. But you keep oscillating back and forth and back and forth and holy fuck, it is hard to get it exactly right.

No but okay, you are fine! What a great week! Calm down.

The devil is in the fluctuations. I could say—and it is true—I have never been happier.

But this might also mean, simultaneously, something else.

*

The disclaimer: 

This post is a very honest account of what it is like for me, a person living with depression (and without medication), to experience an enormous, beautiful, ONLY POSITIVE thing. I wrote about it in this way because I want to be able to write more openly and honestly about depression, if only to finally normalize and de-stigmatize something so often misunderstood. I hope  it serves its purpose. 

My previous post about being diagnosed with depression can be found here

film photographs taken in New York with a  Minolta X-700.

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5 thoughts on “the give & the take.

  1. I just read a preview of the first chapter on amazon.co.uk

    It’s a really good read, very confident and well written! I was a little unsure of where it was taking me at first, but within a few pages I was hooked! I’ll definitely be purchasing a copy! Congratulations 🙂

  2. This is a moving and fantastic post. As someone who suffers from high anxiety and is very frustrated that this anxiety sometimes robs me of positive and happy moments in my life, this really resonated. Thank you for your honesty–this post is so beautiful.

    (Also MOLLY PIERCE is one of the featured YA books at the bookstore I work at in Cambridge. Just sayin’ 🙂

  3. Thank you for this honesty that so many people, apparently, can relate to! The unspoken and misunderstood battle so many fight every day. I didn’t even realize what I do til I read The Half Life of Molly Pierce, and now it’s a little easier to understand myself. Awareness and information are powerful tools.

    • Thank you for this comment- I completely agree with what you said about awareness and information. And I would add honesty. The world would be a different place if we were just more open with each other. ❤

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