When I can’t sleep, I slip out of bed and sit in the living room windowsill, looking across the water at Manhattan. Sleepless nights seem to be a more and more frequent occurrence. Insomnia and I are well acquainted.
Even though I’ve suffered from bouts of depression since my early teens, it still caught me off guard this time. The signs were there, but I didn’t recognize them until I was already well into the familiar funk. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to watch TV. I don’t want to be at home, and I don’t want to go out. None of the things that normally make me happy seem to move me.
All the color drains from the vibrant city. Every color becomes one color. Gray. The gray water that the ferry cuts through on my way to Manhattan each morning. The gray subway tunnels. My gray cubicle at work. Everything had become the same, dull color. Every action seemed pointless. Every decision the wrong one.
Things happened. There was a hurricane. A snowstorm. An anniversary. But all of it seemed to be happening to someone else. I regarded it all with mild interest, but nothing more.
My last, great depression was four years ago, in Seattle, where being sad was as commonplace as Starbucks, and I’d naively thought I was somehow over it for good. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to realize I was in the middle of it this time.
This depression is situational. I know that it’s because I’ve become disconnected. The only person I know in the city is Carlos, and for all his stellar qualities, he’s no replacement for a support network. New York City is a hard place to find a foothold. A smile. A friendly welcome.
I thought when we moved that we’d explore the city together, make friends of our own, and have lives apart and a life with one another. But the reality is that our schedules are at odds, and not very conducive to that particular New York fantasy. While Carlos has made some friends at his work to spend time with, my feeble attempts at making connections here have met with abysmal failure. My workmates are nice enough, and they all seem to love me for some reason, but none of them are people that I’d want to spend time with outside of work. I tried volunteering at the library, hoping that I’d meet people into books and reading, but no one really talked to one another. So, while Carlos goes out with friends, I feel left behind, lonely and abandoned.
I feel like I’m no fun anymore. I feel as drab and gray as the city. My life consists of getting up early while he’s still in bed. Getting dressed quietly in the other room. Kissing him goodbye. A long commute to work. A day in a cubicle, marking time until I can leave and a long commute home. Sometimes I try to stay up for him, but usually I’m too exhausted. He kisses me when he comes in. Then watches videos on his computer in the other room before he comes in to go to sleep.
And I sleep. Or I don’t sleep.
I fantasize about fleeing. Buying a one way ticket back to Austin and going home where it’s warm, where I have family and friends already. Where life is easy. Austin has always been my fall-back. My escape.
When I had my last, great depression, I pulled myself out of it by forcing myself out of my old patterns. I stopped listening to the emo music I normally gravitate toward, and listened to upbeat pop songs instead. I forced myself to work out every day. I forced myself out of my apartment, and made myself go out and socialize a few times a week. And things began to change. Suddenly I was happy. Really happy for the first time I could remember.
I feel like if I take those same steps I’ll get through this depression in much the same way. But because I’m depressed, finding the motivation to do those things has been difficult. So Carlos and I talked, and we planned time together this weekend. We’re going to see the Nutcracker to celebrate his birthday. I made a happy-Lance playlist full of songs that I could dance to. I signed up for a writing group that meets in Manhattan twice a week, and for a gay, board-game group that meets in Chelsea on Sundays.
Still, doubts remain, and the desire to flee ebbs and flows. I can’t imagine New York City ever feeling like home, or ever feeling really comfortable. Maybe time will change that. Or maybe it won’t.
Tonight he gets off work early. He comes in while I’m watching Walking Dead (zombies make me happy) and does the pie dance because there’s pumpkin pie and Reddi-whip. I’m still in my gym clothes from working out in the fitness room downstairs. He kisses me. When he’s here, there’s color in the room. Tonight that’s enough. The desire to flee ebbs, and the desire to curl up next to him with The Simpsons and pie will sustain me for another day.