Depression barged into my relationship again.

At least you have to invite vampires into your home before they drain your life away. Not depression. You don’t even have to know it’s there (but after 26 years, you’d think I would).

Last night, when I sat down to write some articles and couldn’t force my brain to care, I tried to fix it by sitting with my gorgeous bunny and staring at the bright moon through our living room window. But it only made me resent my inability to appreciate the beauty of it all, and that’s when I realized it was definitely back. The random sobbing, relationship resentment, overeating, and poor hygiene weren’t obvious enough, apparently.

More Free Time… to Think About Dying

When I made the decision to leave my job — the full-time editorial job I was so lucky to get, right out of college; the job where I kept getting promoted, and had great benefits — depression was the only thing on my mental list of freelancing “cons”. It was the only reason I might need to stay there, where I’d get paid regardless, where I didn’t need to be a human being, just a cog in a wheel until I could go home and sleep.

As a freelancer, I knew I could handle the deflated income, inferior insurance, and disappointed family members (their support surprised me). The time to write, to be with my pets, to have weekends with Joel again, to celebrate Christmas from morning through night again, to take long trips at a moment’s notice, to breathe… these joys would make it all worthwhile. But I knew it would be a lot harder to handle the self-reliance, and that it would be nearly impossible to function once depression set in, as it inevitably does every so often. I just hoped I’d gotten better at it, like I got better at talking to strangers and handling my liquor and paying my bills and taking my pills.

But just as I feared, when I have no mind-numbing, ethically questionable work to fill my time, I’m left with my thoughts. Oh, those thoughts.

When Did I Become a Housewife?

I’m also left with Joel in another room, playing video games between job duties. Letting the grass climb to the sky and the dishes pile even higher, all while earning double the income that I made when I was working every holiday, every Saturday, and spending all my free time doing housework.

At first it dawned on me:  this is why I was so overwhelmed and bitter and unhappy during my down time.  I was (I thought) carrying the load for both of us, coming home after an exhausting day to a hamper full of his laundry and a sink full of his dishes.

But that’s an unfair assessment. I wear clothes and use plates, too. The overwhelming clutter is all mine, the pets were my choice, and he’s not a sexist pig who refuses to lift a finger (he might need five reminders to clean the litter box or cut the grass, but he always eventually does it without a complaint). It’s just that depression is this monstrous, selective filter, and it tells me I’m trapped in backwards gender roles when I’m not. It makes me feel like a teenage boy’s frustrated mother, or worse, a wife who gaslights herself by deciding she nags too much.

This isn’t why women rotted in asylums and got arrested in voting booths; we’ve come too far for this. I’m too smart for this. Can you sense the exaggeration and bias and resentment? I sense it too. I sense it when words like these are coming out of my own mouth, dripping with negativity, and when my mind won’t stop swirling with reasons to dread the future. And lately I can’t help myself, because this life with him is my whole world now, and I’m incapable of stepping back and handling our communication failures objectively. Instead I strap on my boxing gloves and fight to be heard… what a useless fight.

Close Quarters + Broken Brain

For the first time in our relationship, I’m a part of his everyday routine. Everyone knew it would be tricky, but I knew better than anyone. I planned ahead by moving my desk into a different room, where I blast static into my noise-cancelling ear buds and do fulfilling, flexible work. But I still have the same brain.

A brain that doesn’t work.

It turns the sound of his typing into nails on a chalkboard — actually, that analogy doesn’t work, because misophonia isn’t like anything else. Misophonia isn’t anger when he slurps soup — it’s the urge to get violent when he chews chips with his mouth closed. It’s deep-seeded hatred every time I hear him click his mouse. So of course, it’s blood-boiling, blinding rage when I hear him starting another anime video on my way into the disgusting, smelly kitchen.

So misophonia is an irrational filter that makes everything THAT MUCH WORSE, and sometimes I honestly don’t know if I’m just that controlling and mean and judgmental and uptight, or if it’s a faulty wire sending evil signals into my brain. How much truth is there, behind the painfully illogical rage?

Is it because I’m putting too much on him? Is it because his boss all but assured him that he could transfer to the Colorado office, yet he hasn’t looked into it? Is it because I’ve spent the past two years dreaming about Colorado life, looking at houses, looking for jobs, researching mental health statistics about the state… and then a door opened wide, but it’s his door, not mine?

Opening Florida’s Exit Door

Yesterday, we found one of the neighborhood strays panting under his car. We tried giving him water and tried to bring him inside, and the futility was exhausting and devastating. Even after I plugged in a fan and he finally fell asleep in front of it, breathing normally, I couldn’t stop thinking about the abandoned and stray and feral animals who will spend this whole summer in Florida. This death trap.

I hate this state. I love Siesta Key and I love my family and I love the wildlife, but I hate everything else about it, and the weather is #1 on the list. But my sweaty, itchy discomfort is mild compared to heatstroke and death.

(My empathy levels are getting unbearable, and I’m collapsing under the weight. I thought it was a gift once — surely this sensitivity to suffering means I can fix some of it — but it’s getting ridiculous and unproductive and overwhelming.)

I know a change of scenery isn’t a catch-all solution. But I can’t remember a time that I didn’t desperately want to get out of here.

And this year, he will celebrate his 30th consecutive year here, and he’s been given a diamond-rare opportunity to change that. If he takes it, my dream comes true. After two decades of waiting.

But that’s just the thing: waiting. Dependency on him for my happiness.

Eating My Words & Accepting My OWN Accountability

His burden is unquestionably unfair. It’s not his fault I’m still in this state. It’s not his fault I’m not capable of thriving in an office job. It’s not his fault I have a brain that doesn’t work, or that his normal habits drive me up the wall.

I know he has the social skills I don’t, and the carefree attitude I never will, and that this balance is crucial in life.  He will spend an hour on his knees in our driveway, coaxing a sick cat out from under my car. He will slam on his brakes for a turtle and take it all the way to the nearby pond’s edge, waiting to make sure he doesn’t turn around, to confirm that’s where he wanted to go. He will fall in love with the cat I bring inside, even though we already had two, and he will send me pictures all day long when he’s home to monitor the bonding process and I’m not.

So if I can no longer take this constant, crushing disappointment — this stagnant, stale, fruitless life that helps no one and changes nothing — then I can start by finding a job in Denver.

Someone has to.

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