It was one of those nights where I was so sad, I just couldn’t sleep. I tried, but it was impossible. Nothing was helping quiet my mind. I Facebook-stalked everyone I could think of; I repeatedly refreshed what was trending on Twitter. To top it off, the wind outside was making me think someone was lurking about, just waiting to pounce. I watched the shadows move outside the window. I watched the cats watch the shadows move outside the window, convinced they saw something I didn’t, and by the time I’d see what they were seeing, it’d be too late. When the authorities found me inevitably mutilated on top of what would most certainly be a misunderstood pile on my bedroom floor — my phone clutched tightly in my rigor-mortis hand — they’d realize why I didn’t have the chance to call 911: because I was too busy reading people’s tweets about hashtag something-or-other to prepare myself for a possible home invasion. Then they’d deduce, and rightfully so, that I wasn’t even the type of person who ever really cared about hashtag something-or-other, and then they’d shake their heads, shaming my poor decision of putting my personal safety at risk simply to be a social media spectator. Then the news would pick up the story, and that would forever be my embarrassing legacy.
Obviously, my insomniac-inducing sadness had given way to paranoia, which had given way to fear. I acknowledged this on my sixth trip to check the front door while I walked back and forth, back and forth in front of the kitchen window to convince myself that the shadowy person-like shape I kept seeing move in the reflection of the microwave was, in fact, me.
My heart felt like it was going to jump right out of my chest.
Just then, I heard a loud thud coming from the bathroom. Oh great, now the cat has somehow scaled up the wall like some sort of spiderman to get to those free plants I brought home that originated from the Philippines that are most likely not only highly toxic to cats in and of themselves, but even more highly toxic to cats because of some exotic, feline-specific disease on their leaves, or on that water-retaining gel in the bottom of their containers. Oh great, now the cat’s going to get sick, and then when I rush her to the emergency animal hospital, I’m going to infect the entire staff with some yet-to-be-discovered pandemic plague from these plants I just had to bring home even though, deep down inside, I already knew I wasn’t going to have the energy or follow-through to take care of.
I checked the bathroom. The cat hadn’t scaled the wall like some sort spiderman. The plants were intact. OK, that’s something. I told myself to breathe. I laid back in bed. I thought horrible thought after horrible thought after horrible thought and knocked on the top of my bedside table in my normal OC pattern to ward off the manifestation of those horrible thoughts. Then I realized I was knocking on a different part of the bedside table than I normally knock because I didn’t want to move too much for fear that the soon-to-be intruder hiding in the shadows outside my window would see me. So then I had to knock in the normal place to counteract the knocking in the non-normal place, and then I had to knock some more to counteract the knocking for something other than the original horrible thoughts, and then I realized I was thinking too much about the thoughts and not enough about the knocking, and I couldn’t be sure what knock I was on, so I had to start over and knock to counteract my non-focused knocking, and when my knuckles began to throb, I pulled myself together and turned on the light.
Obviously, my fear had given way to guilt, which had given way to anxiety. Now all I wanted to do was get back to that simple sadness which had started this whole mess in the first place. Typical me, trying to outrun my emotions by moving my thoughts in my mind or my fingers on my phone or my feet on the tile . . . My neck started to get so tense from my frustration with myself that I started to hope that someone actually would bust inside my house, and then maybe I could convince them to just give me a quick neck and shoulder rub to calm me down for a moment before they brutally did away with me. Then I started thinking about how long it had been since someone had touched me in a nice way, an intimate way, in a stress-relieving way. I thought about the hands that had touched me like that in the past and started wondering what those hands were doing now, and whose stress they might be relieving, and even though these thoughts were still a distraction from the true cause of the depression with which I started, they brought me back to that lying-in-bed-but-I-still-can’t-sleep-because-I’m-just-so-sad-inside insomnia I began with more than five hours ago. This was somehow comforting. I breathed.
I picked up my phone. I was just about to start internet-stalking people I thought may possibly be on the receiving end of those aforementioned hands, when I had a moment of maturity, clarity: The only person who had the power to make myself feel better was me. I had a wealth of knowledge literally at the tips of my fingers on my phone. Rather than use it to torture myself further, why not use it to discover some techniques to pull myself out of my sadness? After all, what harm could it do? So I googled and quickly found myself reading a WikiHow article: 5 Ways to Overcome Sadness.
Sweet. Five was on OK number, an odd number. I could deal with that, especially if I approached the number like I do the volume numbers on the car stereo.
Step #1 - Cry.
OK, this seemed simple enough. I tried. Nothing came. I tried a little harder -- still nothing. I was just going to give it another try even though I was worried I might bust some capillaries in my face from the pressure when I suddenly had the brilliant idea that I could chop some onions to make the tears come. Then I realized I didn't have any onions; I couldn't even remember the last time I went to the grocery store. I did have some dried onions, but I actually used the last of them up that very night making some lentils. I did, however, shake the jar a little wildly, and some of the dried onions spilled out onto the counter and the floor. I cleaned them up, but it wasn't like I gave the cleaning 110%, maybe a good 67%, so there was bound to be some dried onion pieces lying about the kitchen still. I started thinking I could get out of bed and go out there and find the dried onion pieces and shove them into the corner of my eyes, directly into my tear ducts, and the gooey-ness of my eyes would rehydrate the onions, and I'd be crying in no time!
Just as I was about to try and move out from under the covers, I read a little further. WikiHow told me not to force myself to cry if I couldn't, that in fact, crying because I felt obligated may even hinder my recovery. Well, gee, thanks WikiHow; maybe you could have put that oh-so-important piece of information upfront so people don't shove dirty, cat-hair-covered pieces of dried onions into their eyeballs.
Step #2 - Exercise
Yes, exercise! Of course; why didn't I think of this? You know what they say: A body in motion doesn't think of inevitable, impending doom. I had the perfect workout partner too . . .
I had picked up this sweet gem at the thrift store not long ago, and now was the perfect time to use it. Man, I was actually starting to feel better already, and even more exciting, I was actually looking forward to something. I couldn't even remember the last time I had that feeling. I was just about to bound out of my bed like a princess in a Disney movie who knew her entire life was waiting for her just outside her door, when I remembered the tape deck on my boombox recently broke.
I've had that boombox almost my entire life too. It could possibly be considered my longest relationship. This realization threw me into a complex, multi-layered sadness that made me put my phone down on the bed beside me and turn my back to it, like it was a lover, and we were in a fight. After awhile, I realized I was being immature, and I turned back to the phone to read some more and see if I could find a way to feel better before I had to start getting ready for work.
Step #3 - Smile
Smile? That kind of sounds stupid. And like the whole crying thing. In fact, I'm a little fearful of smiling too much and not in the right moments. I don't want to look like I've completely lost my mind -- just some woman lying alone in her twin bed with her two cats, smiling at the ceiling fan for no reason. Then again, smiling is probably good for the facial muscles to help keep the skin's elasticity, or it's bad for you because it stretches and wrinkles the face. Shit, which one was it? Well, regardless, I didn't feel much like smiling either way when I realized I could just tape my face into the shape of a smile, so it would stay like that on its own without any effort on my part. I metaphorically patted myself on the back for that great idea. It would be like muscle memory. My face would just learn to instinctually smile on a regular basis because it was used to it, kind of like how my hand used to know the exact distance in the dark from the doorway to the light in an old lover's house. Remember that, Ronnie? That was muscle memory. The distance to the light thing, not the love. Remember love, Ronnie? Huh? Remember it? Huh?? Huh???
Step #4 - Listen to Music
According to WikiHow, there's such a thing as the British Academy of Sound Therapy, and they have a playlist of the world's most relaxing music. I didn't see the Cure listed on there anywhere, but they did have Coldplay. I had a Coldplay CD somewhere, but I decided against listening to them because of the whole Superbowl thing. That whole Superbowl thing is a bit too emotionally complex for me, and I didn't want to add that into the mix. I browsed further -- Enya. I actually like Enya. I even had one of their tapes. Perfect! I can just . . .
Step #5 - Take a Warm Bath or Shower
I stayed there thinking how nice it would be to take a nice, warm bath, but I didn't have a bathtub. I did, however, have a big, blue Rubbermaid tub that I used to store the extra bags of cat food. I thought that I could empty out the cat food and use that like a bathtub. Why not? It always did hold the scent of the cat food though, so I would probably have to wash it really good first. And then maybe I wouldn't be able to get all the scent out, and then it would stick to my skin. And then people at work would be like, why does this chick smell like cat food? And then the neighborhood feral cats would flock to me even more than they already do, and I'm just in no position -- obviously -- to take on any more cats right now, which is really sad because there are so many poor, little cats needing homes. The whole thing is just so sad. Man, the world is just so, so, so sad. I'm so fucking sad, and I have to get up for work eventually.
I looked at the clock.
Shit, I only had a couple of hours left to get some sleep before work. Work.
I wish I didn't have to go to work. It just stresses me out and makes me sad. I started thinking, you know what, if I didn't have to go to work, I'd feel way better.
Wait . . .
If I didn't have to go to work, I would feel better. I wouldn't be so sad or stressed. It's not like I have to work where I work. I am allowed to quit my job. I can do whatever I want. It's my life.
And with those realizations, like magic, my sadness and anxiety drifted away. I had finally figured it all out. On my own.
I was just about to drift off to a nice sleep when I decided to pick up the phone again and -- real quick -- google that health symptom I'd been meaning to google for awhile, you know, just to clear my head completely before I went to sleep.
OK, cool, it could be nothing at all . . .
Or it could be terminal.
And not just terminal, but terminal and extremely expensive. Fucking great! Now I can't quit my job because I'm going to need my health insurance and my income. I'm going to have to stay there indefinitely, no matter how miserable I am, so I can afford my obvious, terrible, terminal disease.
Then I heard something outside. Oh shit, what was that? The cats obviously heard it too. And they see something; they're both staring out the window. Fuck. I hear the police chopper too. They're obviously looking for whoever's outside my window. Should I turn off the light? What am I supposed to do??
*knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood . . . *
In Case You Were Wondering . . .
Sometimes Ronnie D writes funny stuff. Sometimes she writes desperate teenage prose. Most times she just slams her feeble, little woman-hand onto the keyboard in an attempt to feel something, anything.