The Other Side Of The Door

When I was a girl I would sing in the shower. Really belt it out. I remember the sad day when one of my parents said something about how much they enjoyed hearing these concerts. I never sang in the shower again. You see, I had thought somehow that the shower was like another dimension. That somehow when I slid the door closed the world on the other side disappeared and I was as far from it as it was from me. The shower was a capsule of steamy warm water and fantastic acoustics floating alone in outer space. Surely nobody could hear me singing all the way back on earth. Although I’ve given up the singing, this illusion of escaping to another place has remained, and so, when I need a little therapy, I always know I can exit reality for 15 minutes to the magical land just down the hall behind the fogged glass doors.

Everything looks better through shower steam.

My house isn’t messy. Just look at this 3×4 feet of gleaming white tile.

It may have been a week since I did my hair and makeup but look, I’m taking care of myself. I’m in the shower right now.

I’m not lonely and missing my girlfriends. I just can’t hang out right now, I’m in the shower.

What do you mean the kids need me for something? I can’t hear anybody calling or crying from here.

Sure I’ve been avoiding the million things I have to get done, but I’m sure to tackle them. Right after this shower.

That’s the best thing about the shower. In shower land you don’t have to deal in the inconvenient actualities of past and present but in the rosy potentialities of the future.

We may have eaten McDonald’s yesterday and be having macaroni tonight, but you should see the exciting and healthy menu for next week I came up with in the shower. Spoiler alert: The vegetables will be so delicious the kids will beg for more. I will buy these vegetables on a highly efficient trip to the grocery store where no children run off, I stay on budget, and I don’t buy five things I absolutely do not need.

Next week we’ll also go cold turkey and watch no TV and everyone will love it because we’ll do so many fun and educational things instead. What’s that? I only got to take this shower because I parked the kids in front of PBS Kids? Shh shh details details.

Over the years this getaway to the magical land of shower has served me well. I can spend a little time with my own thoughts, sort through things, and when I slide back that door and return to earth I’m refreshed. I’ll even follow through on a couple of those grand schemes or an approximation thereof. But just like any travel to other worlds, there’s always a touch of danger. When I am struggling with depression I often try and escape it through the door to my shower. Now and then It manages to come through too. The Thing that sits on my chest and makes it hard to breathe. Or hovers behind me so that I see it out of the corner of one eye. Or weighs down my shoulders. Then the deep powerful sadness stands between me and the way home. I am frozen by it, unable to make even the smallest decision. I can’t see the happy future, just this aching inexplicable despair going on forever. I want to get out, to go back to reality, but I can’t find the will. Reality is so hard! Fingers go pruny and the water goes cold, sometimes I even manage to turn off the taps, but I cannot muster the strength to open that door. Somehow I’m a million miles away from home, trapped in four walls inside my own house.

Once in college I was trapped by my own mind for two hours. Eventually the fact that somebody would need that bathroom and the potential shame of being caught out as seriously depressed got me out of there. Even now that I’ve publicly admitted to it, the stigma of depression, or the fear that someone won’t understand, is a powerful motivator to behave like a rational adult. At home though, I don’t have that working for me. Now maybe I can call out. If my husband hears me I’m saved, but sometimes even the decision to do that is too hard. Then the only hope is that someone will come rescue me. And there it is, a shadow on the other side of the glass, a sound from that other world outside my head.

“Mum, what colour is a chinese water dragon?”

“Mummy, can I have a shower wiv you? You can be a shark and I can be a dolphin. Tum on Mum.”

“Mummy, I’m building an evewyfing machine, can you get me some tape?”

My little knights in shining armour and a beautiful princess come to save the day. They need me. They love me. I’m queen of their world, who needs another one? Reality around here is pretty magical too.

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15 Comments

Filed under Depression, Homemaking, Motherhood

15 responses to “The Other Side Of The Door

  1. eileen

    the invisible cross, carried with grace and strength, helping me be more thankful for my own blessings and encouraging me to pray for the many needs of my family and friends of which I am unaware. God Bless you always

  2. Brittany

    I just love the way you can invite me into your world with absolutely beautiful words. I do go through depression once and a while and I’m so thankful that you can write how I feel. I miss you so very much. I miss our talks and your ability to help me see things in a different light. You’re a wonderful person and I’m so blessed to have had you in my life!

    • I wish I could express how much I miss you! The tough days were easier when I could just run across the street and visit my Mommy teammate.

  3. Sarah

    Thank you for your honesty. I have so been exactly there. I know all of those feelings way too well myself and the shame hurts the most because its so unnecessary. I’ve been trying to be more honest about it too, because really, depression is an illness. You wouldn’t be ashamed of asthma or a sinus infection. And the strange thing is, when you open up to people about it, you find that a lot of people are struggling quietly and alone too. Why shouldn’t we be able to lean on each other during this stuff? Husbands are great, but if they have never experienced depression, there’s only so much they can say or do. I’m happy to hear that you’re doing so well now. And I love your writing. Please keep it coming. 🙂

    • I shared my essay with a friend yesterday before posting and she mentioned that everybody she knew who struggled with this mentioned how people would think of them as one of their biggest concerns. And yet I’ve never actually encountered any negative judgment when I’ve told someone. So it really is a mystery to me why we’re all so secretive about it. It must be some part of the illness itself. Maybe something about the fact that we’re judging ourselves so harshly that we assume everyone else will do the same? I know it’s a lot harder to convince ME that taking medication isn’t a cop out on my part than it is to convince the people that care about me. Also, something about the fact that people who don’t have depression can’t quite understand it. Sometimes it’s like speaking a foreign language trying to explain to Mike how I’m feeling. So maybe we just don’t want to try. Whatever the reason it’s definitely part of making the problem worse, at least for me. As long as I’m nursing the secret it’s got more power.

      • Sarah

        I think a big part of it for me is that Mark won’t understand. Because how could he? And right now I’m off my meds (gasp!) and I feel like he’s watching me like I’m a ticking bomb. It’s nice to know someone is watching out for me though.

  4. Becca

    So beautiful! Thank you, Cait.

  5. This is a courageous post. Thank you for taking the risk to express this inner suffering in such a vivid and striking matter. There is such a great need for people who suffer all along this “spectrum of disorders” to realize that they are not alone. So much of the shame, I think, comes from this loneliness (there are many aspects to this shame; I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on that).

    Cait, you write so well. You have a gift. Even though life may not allow much time for it, just keep chipping away and write about stuff and post it whenever you can. No pressure, no worry; just do it patiently and humbly. But have no doubts: you are a writer! God bless you.

    • There are definitely a lot of layers to the shame question. There’s the self inflicted stuff. There’s people looking at you like you’re from another planet when you try to explain. There’s the disconnetion from things outside yourself and inability to bridge what seems like a huge gap to do that. Lots to explore!

    • And also, thanks for the encouragement. I”m starting to believe I might just be a writer.

  6. Michael jaquith

    Whenever you come out of the shower, remind yourself of what a beautiful person you are. You are greatly loved by many people.

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