You set the alarm for seven thirty. It’s not early; it’s an hour and a half later than you used to get up to get the boys to school and yourself to work every day for years. It should be a comfortable time to get up. But today, you just turn the alarm off and turn over. You need the extra rest, you tell yourself. You didn’t fall asleep until past four in the morning. No big deal if you need to sleep in, right?
When you wake up again, it’s nearly eight thirty, shoot. Which means you won’t have time to get dressed, feed the dogs and make it over the bridge to the nine o’clock yoga class. Which in turn means it’s now it’s ten days since you have made it to a class that you know makes you feel better. Another energetic start to another great day; you can tell already.
The dogs are up and poking their wet noses at you, wondering when you are going to serve them breakfast, so with a deep sigh, you swing your legs to the side and sit up on the side of the bed. Your black lab wags his tail so hard that he knocks your phone off the nightstand and onto the floor. You squat down to reach under the bed to where it’s fallen. Yikes, your feet and ankles are tight. You needed that yoga class
You reach under the bed and are mildly horrified at the amount of dust and dog hair that’s accumulated there. You rub your now dusty phone off on the t-shirt you are wearing and, seeing the black stripe you left on the shirt, realize that wasn’t a great idea.
In the bathroom, you notice that there’s also black dog hair building up behind the door and on the edges of the white shower mat. It would be a good idea to clean the house today. You observe yourself thinking that thought but know it’s highly unlikely to happen.
By the time you stumble into the kitchen, the dogs are already there, looking at you expectantly. The water bowl is empty, so you fill that, along with the electric kettle to make your tea. While the water is heating, you pull out the dog food. Black lab’s tail is thumping hard against a kitchen chair now, so you move the pile of mail you left there yesterday before it, too, lands on the floor.
Yesterday when you fried yourself an egg for breakfast, you fried one for the dogs too, and that was a big hit. Black lab will eat anything, of course, but the pit, she’s a bit of picky princess. She’ll turn her nose up at a breakfast of dry dog food and sometimes let it sit there all day, just to show that it’s beneath her to eat such uninteresting food. Stir a fried egg within it, however, and it becomes acceptable.
You don’t feel like frying any eggs this morning, however, but you have been sucked into trying to tempt the princess to eat her breakfast (as if she’d really starve herself otherwise). So you stir some chicken broth–organic no less–into their bowls along with the dry dog food. Black lab is happy. Pit sniffs at the bowl and then goes to lie down on her cushion.
You tell yourself it’s good that you have these funny dogs to love, because it distracts you from hating yourself. And they make you get out of bed.
The water in the kettle is boiling, but tea doesn’t seem that appealing after all. You throw some leftover brown rice in a bowl and microwave it. You eat that for breakfast and wash it, your Effexor, Wellbutrin, and some multivitamins down with a Diet Coke. There, you are medicated, vitaminized, caffeinated and ready for the day.
You feel a flat, heavy despair on your shoulders but tell yourself you won’t succumb. You pull out the broom and go to work on the hardwood floor in the kitchen. It’s thick with dust, a few orange peels that fell from the counter, and of course, black dog hair. You think about how sweeping is one of your favorite household chores. That and ironing. But the thing about ironing, at least while you are so depressed, is that you might decide you could just go ahead and burn yourself while the iron is hot. So far the broom has remained harmless.
The pile of dust and dog hair and citrus peels you sweep up is so impressive that you consider texting a photo of it to your husband before sweeping it into the dustpan and dumping it. Then you wonder what your life has come to, when this is what you share with your husband about your day.
You turn on public radio, briefly, but it’s pledge drive week. You have already done your civic duty and contributed, but the drive will go on for days yet, and you can’t bear to listen to it, so you turn the radio off again. It’s a good reason to crawl back into bed. After all, bed is as appropriate a place as any to read the New York Times on your phone.
Besides the political news of the day, you read a long story about young people’s consumption of porn online and a program to encourage them to be more thoughtful, critical consumers of what they encounter. It’s a little bit alarming to read the stats on how early teens find porn and how often it constitutes the most comprehensive sex education they receive. This makes you think that you could have done a much better job talking with your sons about healthy sex. Or maybe you couldn’t have. It’s not like you have it figured out, either.
You should get a little work done on your consulting contracts, you think. Then instead of getting yourself up to do that, you wrap the blankets tight around yourself and rock yourself back and forth in the bed, wishing for something you can’t quite put a name on. Relief. Comfort. Oblivion.
You could call your psychiatric nurse, but really, what’s the point?
You remember that you told your mom you’d call her today. She called you yesterday, when you were going out the door, and you promised to call back. You want to keep your promise, even though it feels hard to talk on the phone. You’ll wait until noon. Usually by noon, you feel a little better.
Getting dressed might be good. You pull on gray leggings and a loose gray t-shirt with a light gray cardigan on top. There you go, bright and cheerful; great job. But it was tiring, so you go back to bed. After you finish reading everything of interest in the NYT, you play a couple of games of Candy Crush, even though it’s boring.
You get up and down from bed a few more times, because the dogs want to go out in the unseasonably mild weather or the mail arrives with a package (professional journals to read–though clearly not today) or you decide you should really unload the dishwasher because you have been leaving all the dishes for your husband lately.
So then it’s noon and you call your mom, and she’s in a good mood. She has been sick a lot lately but she feels well today for the first time in a while. You are glad of that and don’t want to bring her down by saying you are pretty depressed. Besides, you have told her before, and she has no idea what to do or say, so what’s the point? Instead you let her tell you what your brother and stepdad are doing and what the doctor said when she went in last week. You talk some about a family history project, something you are both genuinely interested in. And then the call is over.
Now you only have about 45 minutes before you have a therapy appointment, which you, wisely, did not cancel this time. You should probably eat something. A banana? And you can microwave a concoction of leftover black beans and collard greens and tomatoes. If you add enough red pepper to it, it works. You wash it down with a second Diet Coke. You thought about giving up Diet Coke at New Year’s, but that hasn’t happened.
The pit is trying to get your attention; she sets her chin on your knee and looks up at you with her big, pleading brown eyes. “What is it?” you ask her. “You haven’t eaten your breakfast. Go eat your breakfast.” But she keeps looking at you.
You stand up. “What do you want?”
She runs over to the magic cupboard, the one where the rawhide chewies are. She stops there, turns to look at you and wags her tail. Dang, she’s too cute, you think, as you open the cupboard and hand her a chewy. You give one to the black lab, too. He never chews them. He just hangs on to them, and when she’s finished with hers, he teases and taunts her that he still has one, and he tries to get her to chase him. They play this game every day. Eventually, the pit comes to you and indicates that she wants you to give him a treat. When he sees your hand go in the treat jar, he drops his chewy to get the treat. The she grabs his chewy and retreats into the crate to enjoy a second one.
But that’s for later. He still has the chewy when you grab your purse and keys and what’s left of your Diet Coke and you head out the door for therapy.