As we drove from Arizona to Utah, I couldn’t keep my body above wakefulness. Try as I might to remain in the land of the waking, my consciousness crumpled with a single exhalation, the waters of below sweeping me away.
Occasionally, I heard my toddler screaming. No matter the exhaustion, we always hear the voices of our babies. So I would rouse myself miraculously, enough to change a children's YouTube video, help her to skip an ad. Then my head would drop again of its own accord, and my waking with it, subsumed by the force of exhaustion.
The dreams were rimmed in gray, but mostly forgotten. I know the gray because it beamed from changing landscapes out the windows when my eyes were forced open. First, the expanses of cloudy desert scenes- flat-capped red mountains shrouded in an unnatural cold, gray hanging over the desert shrubbery. Then the slow-growing snow. First it lightly powdered the desert bushes, then it nearly covered the yellow-dried fields: Utah. The grayness here has the quality of thickness. We are aware that this is not just fog, but the exhaust fumes from cars and the smoke from the refineries trapped in the valley between the towering mountains. This awareness stifles the breath.
Suddenly, my eyes snapped open: home.
Georg unloaded the car while I fed and entertained the baby. Then I made dinner, and we ate with the smog outside beginning to snow, and I tried to fight the marauding thoughts. It's strange to hear the tectonics of the brain begin to shift into new formations. Everything is wrong. Everything is hopeless. Seasonal depression has arrived with a fury. At first, the lethargy which leadens the body. It persisted through holidays in Arizona, which was unusually cold and rainy all week. The lethargy is intense, and certainly affects my life, but it is a small thing compared to the depression which consumed my childhood. So I swallow the pill, even while coping and resisting in any way I can. Healthier living, spiritual cultivation, vitamin D drops. The fog doesn't ever lift, but it clears enough to sense that the sun will rise with the spring. But now, back in the smog and snow, I feel the hopelessness gnawing at my brain.
I slept early, but dreamt that I was digging a grave all night long. The grave was for someone I love who had died suddenly, but the death itself had not begun to sting me. I knew in the dream that I was in shock, a welcome block from my subconscious. The only discomfort was in the digging.
I woke up exhausted, feeling I had not slept. How strange that my dreams know me perfectly through allegory, that beneath the oppressive gray of depression, all actions clatter with the monotony of shoveling graves.