Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Wish It Would Rain

I’m watching the clouds and wishing they would just cut loose already. Of course, if they did cut loose, I would then be wishing I could get out from behind this desk and go play in the rain. The grass is always greener, right? Some days you can’t put a positive enough spin on things, and you know what? Some days that’s okay. Not every day is going to be a good day, and it is possible to be fine with that.

Yes, I am trying to remind myself of that fact, but, lest anyone forget, I started this project to help me as much as to help anyone else. It seems only natural, then, that you should see the lows as well as the highs. In that way, you get to see how these things I go on about really do help. Hopefully I’m helping us both in the process.

We’ve been in Phoenix for about six years now and, if I’m being perfectly honest, I still haven’t really adjusted. I don’t like the desert. There, I said it. Nothing against people who do like this environment, but it’s just not for me. I need water. I’m a fish. I grew up in south Texas, where even the air is usually wet. I was rarely more than thirty or forty minutes away from a major waterway and, even during our drought seasons, I could usually get to the bay in under an hour. When I go home to visit these days, I usually fly into Corpus Christi, and the very first thing I do when I step outside is take a deep breath of beach air. That hint of salt water on the breeze says Home to me in a way that will never be replaced, no matter how long I am away.

After leaving south Texas, I spent several years in Western Washington, which is beautiful in its own way. Even more beautiful in some ways. South Texas doesn’t have mountains, and mountains are amazing if you love the outdoors. I do, so Washington was a great place to spend some time. It never quite got to be home. in the same sense, but it came close. You could think of it as the home of a friend so close their home was practically your own. As close to home as it gets without being home.

It didn’t have the right weather, though. There was a serious shortage of thunder. There is nothing quite like sitting by the water while a massive thunderstorm rolls in. If you haven’t had that pleasure, I highly recommend it. The wind picks up, the temperature drops, and there’s a scent in the air that is like no other smell in the world. The smell of rain is the smell of washing away the old and giving birth to the new, of a wildness that leads to peace. It’s the scent of a power that can knock down a building and leave a field of newly-bloomed flowers in its wake.

I think we just identified what makes these storms so special to me. Would you believe that I’ve never actually thought about it from that direction before? I’ve always known that thunderstorms wake me up - I’ve stood out in a hurricane before, grinning from ear to ear - but I’ve never really examined why. A good thunderstorm is the perfect natural embodiment of yin and yang, of all-in-one, of life, in all of its amazing, terrifying glory.

We do get boomers here - it’s currently monsoon season in Phoenix - but it’s just not the same. We get the wind, but the temperature rarely drops and the smell isn’t right. No offense, Phoenix, but your rain is usually dirty. I’m not kidding. If you look at the cars here after a storm, it often looks like they’ve been through a mud bath. We get so much dust in the air that it sometimes seems like the clouds are made of dirt, and all of that dust has to come down with the rain. This is a perfectly natural side effect of living in a desert, but it’s one they forget to warn you about. It is more than a little weird the first time you experience dirty rain. That is one thing I doubt I will ever get used to. I like things clean, and my brain has a hard time processing the fact that even the rain can be dirty.

We do get the nice storms occasionally, though, and it is really a relief when they happen. We just had one a couple weeks ago, and it really smelled like rain. You would probably have to be me to understand how important that part was. They don’t happen often, but something is better than nothing, right? See what I did there? You knew I would find a way to loop this back around to being positive, didn’t you? I’m tricky that way.

This is what living with depression is all about. This is what we ask the people who don’t live with depression to understand. When you live with depression, there is an enemy living inside of your own mind, always trying to pull you down. This enemy is always showing you the downside of everything, and usually exaggerating that downside in the process. If there is not an obvious downside, the enemy will surely find a way to invent one. Every … single … day. Some days are better than others - and some days are way better than others - but that enemy never goes away.

In order to combat this enemy, we must always be looking for the positive side. Find the silver lining, see the rainbow, and believe in that pot of gold. It’s not about optimism. I’m not really an optimist, no matter how I sometimes come across. What I am is determined. I am in regular conflict with an insidious enemy, and I intend to win.

There was a day in my life when I went away. For a period of time, I ceased to exist in any real way that mattered. The part of me that is Me blinked out for a bit, and realizing that was one of the most frightening moments of my life. We all forget things. We all have moments of memory that are less than clear. These things are to a fugue, though, as a candle is to a lighthouse. When you look back on a point in your life and it’s blank - not fuzzy or unclear, but actually not there - it changes you. Hopefully it changes you for the better. That has been my intention.

I had been struggling in many ways, back and forth, long before that day, but that day flipped a switch. That day woke me up like nothing before it had been able to do. I had been suffering with suicidal thoughts for years, but on that day I saw the abyss. I looked into it, and decided, no more. I was done suffering. I was going to fight, and I was going to win.

So I am acutely aware of things I don’t like, of things I miss, and of things that make me unhappy. Sometimes I am too aware. There is a little voice in the back of my head whose mission in life is to make absolutely certain that I never forget those things. Some days that little voice isn’t so little. Some days it’s yelling into a megaphone straight into my ears.

Then some days it rains, a nice, heavy, clean rain that roars in and washes away everything in its path. In its wake, life renews, and we get to begin again. We’ve had some heavy clouds just sitting in the sky for a few days now here in Phoenix. I watch them with home and with some longing, waiting for them to let loose a torrent. They might not, though, and I know that. Our chances for rain have already been downgraded, but that’s okay. It may not rain today, but it will come. I might not be where I want to be today, but I’ll be there again. I’m still moving forward, and that is always better than the alternative.

It’s a constant struggle, and it’s tiring, but there is always a renewal, and there is always a better day ahead. If I close my eyes, I can smell the rain. In my heart, I’m always home.

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