Have you ever noticed that once you decide you really hate a song, you begin hearing it everywhere?
I’ll give you an example.
A few years ago, my mother decided the song she hated most in the world was Pharrell Williams’ Happy. Every time she heard it on the radio, she would immediately turn the channel, making a little noise of disgust.
Me: “Why do you hate that song so much? It’s so positive!”
Mom: “It just repeats Because I’m happy, clap! Clap! Clap! Over and over! It’s so stupid!”
Me: “It’s so positive. He just wants you to be happy, mother.”
Mom: “I am happy. I don’t need a song to tell me to be happy.”
That summer, she and I took a trip to Australia. It was the trip of a lifetime, and hands-down the best trip I’ve ever taken. Our first stop was to Yulara, a small resort town just outside the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It didn’t have too much beyond a few resorts and a campground, but it did have a small plaza, with shops and a restaurant or two. Now, sprinkled around the square were loudspeakers that played a fairly steady stream of music. As we were walking around, I heard the first few faint notes of a song I recognized. I froze, straining to hear the music clearly, and it clicked.
I immediately busted up laughing.
My mom, meanwhile, was rather confused as to why her child had frozen in the middle of the sidewalk and was now laughing at seemingly nothing.
Mom: “What is it?”
Me: “It’s following you”
Mom: “Excuse me?”
Me: “It’s following you everywhere!” *near-hysterical laughter*
Mom: “What are you talking about?”
Me: “The song!”
Mom: “There’s not music pla—oh. Wait. Is--is that that damn happy song?!”
Me: *nodding as I try to stop laughing*
Mom: “We need to get inside. Ugh, it’s everywhere!”
Me: *trailing behind her as she looks desperately for an open shop* “It’s following you!”
And that was how two Americans ended up in the middle of nowhere in Australia, laughing at a song.
I’ve been meaning to write a post—any post—for several weeks now, but all I’ve really managed are several half-finished catastrophes. I want to write something humorous, but I haven’t really been capable of it, so hope this post will serve as an acceptable explanation.
For the past week, I’ve had a mug of hot chocolate sitting on my desk.
It’s a bit like a ritual for me to have hot chocolate on days when I’m having a very hard time, and on this occasion I pulled out all the stops: extra scoops of cocoa mix, milk instead of water, and little chunks of Ghirardelli chocolate. As I was about to drink it, one of my roommates came to my door so we could go to class. It was a day when I was proud of myself just for getting out of bed, and I wasn’t entirely sure I was up to leaving the house, but he was encouraging me, and didn’t look like he would take no for an answer.
By the time I came back, the drink was ice-cold, and likely already starting to go bad. I told myself I’d take care of it that evening, after I’d finished my homework and relaxed for a bit.
I then promptly forgot about it.
So now I have a mug of completely inedible hot chocolate sitting on my desk. Every time I sat down over the course of this past week, the mug was staring me full in the face. It gradually took on a splotchy color, and began to grow mold.
Still, I did nothing.
I would just open up my laptop, blocking my view of the cup with my screen, all the while hating myself for being utterly incapable of taking care of it. It’s a ridiculously simple task: just carry the cup out to the kitchen, dump it in the sink, and rinse it out with water. I wouldn’t even necessarily have to wash it by hand; I could just use the dishwasher.
Every day, the task would get minimally more challenging, as the milk spoiled and the mold grew more boldly towards the edges of the cup.
No matter how simple a task it may have been in the beginning, or realistically how simple it is now, I still find myself unable to take the step.
Depression is full of situations like that.
You have things you should be doing, things you need to be doing, things you know shouldn’t feel this daunting. Yet the energy needed to accomplish or even begin the most menial task is so monumental that you put it off. Putting it off, of course, means these tasks increase in complexity, until you have an Everest-sized list of things to do and no energy to do them. Meanwhile, new tasks are added to your list every day.
My analogy for depression changes almost every day, depending on how it’s affecting me. Some days it’s like a fog, obscuring even my closest surroundings. Some days it’s like drowning, where you’re fighting with everything you’ve got but you just can’t make it above water on your own. This week, it was like freezing to death. You know you have things to do: you must shoulder your responsibilities, you must get off this mountain and go back to a place where you will be safe and alive. But the snow cradles you, the wind whispers to you, and the lure of the mountain promises that you will be better off here than back down where your loved ones are. The snow cries for you to stay where the winds assure you that you are safe, and the winds try to convince you that you would not be better off back where you came from, that your family and friends don’t want you anywhere but on the top of this mountain. You know the mountain will kill you; if you stay there it will get you eventually. But the snow feels warmer than your mother’s arms, the winds feel kinder than your friend’s smiles, and you have to wonder if it would be worth it to climb all the way back down.
There are days when I’m not sure. There are days when I feel the best course of action for me and those I love would be for me to remain on this mountain until the snow overtakes me, and I can hurt no longer.
This is wrong.
There will always be days when I forget the mountain top is not a place I should be, but that I belong back down at the foot of the mountain. I belong not alone and clinging to the side of a snowy cliff but back home in the village surrounded by those I love. I belong with my friends and family. The snow is not warmer that my mother’s arms or my dad’s laugh or my brother’s smile or my friend’s company. The winds are lying when they say those I love don’t love me back. The mountain is a trap.
I belong at the foot of the mountain.
So do you.
My brother recently re-created an account on Club Penguin, an online computer gaming site that we once played when we were kids. You can create your own penguin avatar, and wander around playing games and such. You can also adopt puffles, which are basically sterile tribbles. They’re small, brightly colored balls of fluff that go on adventures with you. Unfortunately, to get more than two puffles (red, blue, or both), you need to become a member, which of course costs money.
Ian: “I really want to become a member, but I don’t think it would be the best use of my money.”
Me: “No, not at all.”
Ian: “But then I could have a lot of puffles.”
Ian: “Cal. Cal. Come look at this. With a membership, you can adopt up to seventy-five puffles.”
Ian: “Come see for yourself!”
Sure enough, on the list of membership benefits was the delightful statement that you could have up to seventy-five of the little monsters, both inside and in your backyard.
Me: “What are we, making a puffle farm?!”
Ian: “You can adopt a dinosaur puffle!”
Me: “Dinosaur. Puffles.”
Ian: “And the golden puffle!”
Me: “Hang on, I’m still stuck on dinosaur puffles. Like, have they not seen Jurassic Park? Nothing good will come from this.”
Ian: “When I was a member, I had to get rid of sixteen of my puffles because I couldn’t even take care of three. Who’s gonna be able to take care of seventy-five?”
Me: “That’s the point. No one’s gonna be able to do it. The creators of Club Penguin are trying to exterminate penguinkind through dinosaurs.”
Ian *nodding* “Right.”
Me: “Dinosaur puffles.”
Ian: “We should go to Disney to complain about this.”
Me: “Think of the penguins!”
Ian: “Think of the other puffles! The poor, innocent puffles.”
Ian: “You don’t have to do this. You can stop. You can save them.”
Ian: “Stop before all of penguinkind is gone.”
I have no idea what I'm doing.