I used to be the girl who catted about town on the daily, looked for any excuse to get out of the house and bus downtown where the action was. I loved downtown, the hustle and bustle of hipsters and businessmen and chic moms with their please-mum-clad kids all busily walking to the next show, the next appointment. I dressed to fit in, built a closet of vintage and weird clothes to give me some street cred, and walked Granville like I knew what I was doing. I knew Granville Island like the back of my hand, Commercial Drive? Favourite place in the city.
But something happened last semester. I started off same as ever, treating each Friday and Saturday night like a one-way ticket to a good time out on the town. I went to tiny concerts in bars, I went out dancing at the salsa clubs. Halfway through the semester, my family’s little dog, a five-year-old daschund named Zoey, unexpectedly fell victim to a compressed disk in her spine, causing intense pain and paralyzing her from the waist down. Over the course of two days our healthy, chipper little dog was gone. Euthanized. Such a clean, stinging word…it was a bad week. It was a bad month. I still expect frenzied barking every time I put a key in the door lock, can still see her perched on her back legs asking for a lap to sit in. I still miss her. Zoey’s death became an inciting incident that, coupled with stress in my personal relationships, led me into a bout of depression.
I don’t use the term “depression” lightly. I call things depressing, sometimes, as a joke, but if something truly is sad and tragic, I don’t say that. But depression is a tricky one. Most people who say they’re depressed aren’t serious, which desensitizes many to the spiralling darkness that real depressed people experience. I was lucky. I had a strong support network in my friends, my family, and my partner, who all kept me from falling too deep into depression. I didn’t go to a doctor. I wasn’t prescribed drugs. Suicide never once crossed my mind.
It was, however, one of the most terrifying states I have ever experienced. The feeling that your mind is teetering on the brink of a chasm filled with howling darkness and fear-riddled shadows. And that feeling can surface at any time, though mostly when you’re alone, or with someone so close to you that you don’t have to wear a mask of normality around them. Then the tear-floods start, and the howling gets so loud you can’t breathe because nothing makes any kind of sense.
It’s absolutely terrifying, especially when you can’t pinpoint a reason for your madness. Combined with the stress of five university courses and a complete and utter sense of apathy towards the many, many assignments and papers due (not something I’m used to, at all), it was a tough couple of months. I thank my stars every day for having such an incredible partner in love and crime beside me, and putting up with my wild moods and endless tears. We’ll be coming up on two years in a few months, and a gorgeous cobblestone road it’s been. Uneven, at times, but always set on solid ground.
Now, though January has already thrown a handful of blindsiding curveballs my way, I’m in a good place. I might not be on the best of terms with all the people I know and love (regardless of if they know it or not), but I’m happy and grounded with myself. As for going out, however…I’ve turned into a hermit. I don’t want to go out, whether it’s something I know I would enjoy or not. Downtown? Might as well be Prince George as far as I’m concerned. Who wants to go out when you have a slightly-below-par pub less than two blocks away, a stash of liquor and yarn in your closet, Netflix on your TV, and 8tracks in your speakers? Netflix, guys. You can crochet in sweatpants while watching In Her Shoes for the 45th time! I have zero ambition to do cooler things.
This realization that I would rather do sub-par things and relinquish my status as external Vancouver hipster surfaced as I realized that it would be a serious effort to leave my house this evening and go to the farewell show for/at the Waldorf Cabaret, with my favourite gypsy musicians (Maria in the Shower, Geoff Berner, The Tailor, Hannah Epperson and more). Sadly, I won’t be in attendance due to some of the afore-mentioned curveballs and various familial duties, but I can’t pretend my inner hermit stick-in-the-mud self isn’t breathing a deep sigh of relief.
I’m sure I’ll eventually recover my mojo, but until that happens…I have a standing date with my couch.
© Emily Bragg 2013