“Hanging in there” is the art of swallowing your sadness – stone by stone – until you’re heavy with it. It’s the promise you make yourself at 7:30 a.m. that if you can get up, get out of bed, and be in the shower by 7:45 a.m., you’ll allow yourself to curl up at the bottom and sob until 8:03 a.m. It’s the 6 reminder alarms in your phone that you need to eat, need to continue fueling your broken ship of a body so it can keep barreling on through space. It’s the small talk you make with friends that don’t know, the words spilling out faster than you can keep up with because if you stop you’re going to say It and that’s going to make It real and you’re not ready for that.
You practice your smile in the mirror, pushing the edges further when you notice they don’t reach your eyes like they used to do. You keep benign excuses in your pockets, always ready for a quick draw response: I’m tired. I’m hungry. I’m PMSing. I didn’t sleep well last night. Anything to put distance between yourself and the truth.
The pillbox on your counter becomes an effortless routine, but you can’t tell if it’s the Klonopin or the depression that has you on autopilot. Hanging out with friends is an exercise in playing pretend. Phone calls with your family are balancing acts of tangible silences stretched over 800 miles.
You keep The Sad playlist on Spotify on repeat, scream the lyrics in your car until you taste iron at the back of your throat. In a moment of weakness, you pray, but that phantom comfort pales in comparison to the promise of oblivion waiting at the bottom of a bottle. But you keep hinging your hope on words you don’t even know if you believe in anymore and string them together to pull you from one moment to the next.
Somewhere in your journal, you wrote that you wished you had a “real” reason for the emptiness eating through you. Now you just wish you had never brought the thought into existence. You bury it the same way you bury your tears down the drain and straighten yourself up at 8:04 a.m. You work your way through 6 blaring rounds of “You’ll Be Back” until you’re back at the pillbox.
Once you read a quote, “Grief sits like ash in the mouth” and you thought it was beautiful. But as you swallow another 20mg to buoy you through the worst of it, you realize there’s nothing beautiful in choking on a name for someone who will no longer answer.