The Worst Best Day


I groggily blink a few times while my phone alarm softly chimes. I stretch my arms and legs as far as I can muster and then lie very still. I am waiting. Waiting for the voices that have shown up each morning without fail. They tell me to throw the covers over my head. To shut the world out as long as possible. They tell me I cannot possibly drag my exhausted body through yet another day. But my legs surprise me. They swing out of the bed with—dare I say—energy? These cannot be my legs. I sit up and, it’s the most bizarre thing. My mind feels clear. There’s no fog. Well, it must be coming. Soon the heaviness will arrive and drape itself over me like a weighted blanket.

Nothing happens.

Instead of curling into a tight ball, waiting for a child to throw himself on top of me, I reach for my jeans.

I make lunches for the day without a single grunt of annoyance. When my boys emerge from their rooms, they are greeted by a rare scene—their mother, bustling around in real clothes, smiling. I’m greeted with tight hugs and giggles.

The table is ready and I plop a kiss on their still warm heads as I pour cereal. One of them spills and they both freeze, wide-eyed, waiting for me to crumple. Or yell. Or escape to my room, unable to cope. But I calmly reach for a rag and wipe it up. I tell him it’s ok, and ask him to try to be more aware of his surroundings. As I’m saying the words, I realize how foreign they sound.

We drive to school and my fellow drivers somehow seem less incompetent today. I chatter with the boys and pray for their day. They bust out of the vehicle with ferocity and I patiently ask them to wait, watch for cars, hold my hand. I tell them I love them.

At work I zip around as usual, checking off all the things. But maintaining a sunny demeanor doesn’t feel like a strain today. It doesn’t feel forced, like a mask I’m wearing for a few hours.

Mid-afternoon hits. This is when I succumb to the mental fatigue I’ve been squelching all day. Often I collapse into bed; a futile attempt to wring an extra ounce out of myself. But I don’t want to collapse today. Instead we go to the woods. I wander through a cathedral of evergreens, feeling more alive and present than I have in months. Outings have seemed so daunting lately. But today I revel in the trees as the boys chase after skittish squirrels.

At bedtime, I give in to requests for extra books, punctuating the stories with silly voices and sound effects. I’m sure the neighbours can hear our shrieks of laugher over every fart joke. I eagerly wrap them in giant hugs until they laugh and squirm their way out. I feel so overfilled with grace and love for these tiny creatures entrusted to my care. They tell me they love me.

I begin to shut the house down for the night. Wiping counters, setting out bowls for the next morning. I even make lunches. In advance. I settle in to watch a show and turn it off after one episode. I don’t want to numb myself by watching tv all night and devouring every carb in the pantry. I sense my fatigue and accept it, instead of ignoring it. I take a bath and find myself in bed at an insanely sensible hour.

And that’s when it all falls apart.

I begin to sob. Not because I’m sad. Because I’m happy. And I didn’t realize until today that I hadn’t felt happy in quite a while. Every moment of this day was so terribly confusing. My energy to engage with the world, my ability to complete basic tasks without becoming overwhelmed, my desire to recognize what my body needed (trees) and what it didn’t need (staying up until midnight). Truth be told, today I was myself for the first time in a while. I didn’t know I had been away. I didn’t know that an imposter had been inhabiting my body and soul. I took the heaviness and exhaustion at face value, believing it was normal. Believing it was me.

It wasn’t me.

I am worried I will lose myself again. That I will wake to hormones that have once again rearranged themselves in a way that wants to break me down. Now that I’ve experienced normal, I don’t want to go back. Now that I remember what happy is, I don’t want to be without it again.

I am scared to fall asleep. What if all I get is one good day?

I take a deep breath. I tell myself that if the depression comes back, I will not allow myself to be taken hostage. I will not brush it off as a rough day and then passively let the days terrifyingly build on one another. I will not wait for a good day to snap me out of it. I might not get one.

But what I will get is help. I will reach out to safe people. I will read books to understand what’s going on. I will research all my medical options. Most importantly, I won’t relegate my mental health to the very bottom of the priority list.

I am still scared.

But I won’t go down again without a plan to get back up.

I won’t let happy be the exception.