Last week, Jason and I decided to have an impromptu mid-week date night. This in and of itself was somewhat significant, as I haven't been too keen on things like "leaving the house" and "putting on pants" for the last few months. We went to one of our favorite restaurants (alas, no House of Cards cast and crew this time). I picked a half-order of tortellini to start and the braised short rib as an entree. They were both great. Exceptionally great. I couldn't stop talking about how great it all was.
"I am really enjoying this meal," I said at one point, mid-delicious bites.
Then I froze. I put my fork down. I looked at Jason and repeated, with a bit of dazed wonder:
I am enjoying this meal.
During my first appointment with the psychiatrist, she asked me what I liked to do for fun. Any hobbies, activities I particularly enjoyed?
I stared at her as my mind drew a blank. ...Fun? ...En-joyed? What even were those words?
"I liked going to restaurants," I finally came up with. "Eating out, trying new foods. Cooking and baking with my kids, having people over and entertaining."
She smiled and nodded. "That's great! All really fun things."
Then she looked at my face and pained expression. She reached out and patted my hand. "They'll be fun again soon, I promise."
My therapist and I have traced the origins of this depressive episode back to the death of my dad. In 2011. A six-year slide sideways and downwards while my grief grew tendrils through my brain, the symptoms of which I vigorously, studiously ignored while hurling myself at any distraction possible.
First there was a new baby, then a new job, then a new house, then another new job, then all our pets died and and we got new pets but then we also got a new president who has made every single day a living psychic nightmare and somewhere along the way I started spending more time in bed and missing work deadlines and ignoring my friends and letting important things slide because I was unable to make phone calls. And then the anxiety attacks turned into panic attacks started and the self-sabotage amped up to a whollllllle new level.
And everything I liked to do -- going places! doing things! being with people! -- was now just...awful. Stressful and unpleasant, and I started taking bigger and bigger steps and jumping through bigger and bigger hoops to avoid the stressful and unpleasant things -- sorry, so busy this weekend, sorry, just saw your text, sorry, I don't know what my deal is right now. But the anxiety could always just find something new to latch onto; something new that was now a source of stress and unpleasantness that needed to be avoided at all costs.
I could talk about my dad just fine, even in therapy. His death was no longer a trigger or something that made me cry or feel specifically sad about. I'd grown very matter-of-fact about the whole thing. He died. I was six months pregnant. Yeah. Really sucked. It's okay. I'm fine.
lol ur not, another voice would say. But I got pretty good at ignoring that one.
None of this stuff is linear, of course. While I have no doubt the medication is working, it's still a bit of give and take. Just days after our Triumphant Enjoyable Dinner I briefly slipped into a couple of Bad Days. Which, while not nearly as Bad as some of the Worst Days, can feel like it because now there's a point of comparison. Dammit, I remember now! I'm a fun person who likes fun things! Why do I keep disappearing on myself?
On Saturday I took Ezra out for a very, VERY special dinner, just the two of us. Gordon Ramsay (who Ezra knows and loves from MasterChef Jr.) has a new restaurant in Baltimore and I'd been promising him we'd go once it officially opened. He was so excited he barely slept on Friday night, and spent most of Saturday staring at the clock while attempting to speed up time with his mind.
(Of course, I'd made that promise under the mistaken assumption that the restaurant would be one his more casual pub-type affairs, not the mucho expensive upscale steakhouse that it actually is. But a promise is a promise so Jason and the other kids got left at home, because no fucking way.)
We got dressed up and I drove us into the city, then got briefly confused because of the restaurant's location inside a casino. I knew I couldn't bring Ezra into the actual casino but there didn't seem to be a direct door into the restaurant. But I'd checked Yelp and one person specifically mentioned bringing his own Ramsay-obsessed child there so I assumed it would be okay and I assumed there'd be a separate entrance or something and the only door I could find was plastered with signs about no one under 21 being allowed inside so what do we do what do we do we're going to miss our reservation crap crap crap.
"Mom, I'm cold." Ezra whimpered while I looked around for some kind of Authority Figure who could help us. A valet and a maintenance worker both admitted they had no idea, this is a goddamn casino, not too many people try to come here with their 9 year olds, you know?
I pulled out my phone and called the restaurant. A very helpful hostess gave me directions on bypassing the casino floor (which were basically, "walk inside, look to the left, you're literally calling from 10 feet away from where you need to be") and came over to greet us in person once we got inside.
"Oh my God, he's so cute," she gushed as Ezra took off his coat to reveal his collared shirt and vest.
Not long after we were seated, Jason texted to find out if we made there okay.
"Yep." I texted back. "I had to call them on the phone."
"Wow, go you!"
Go me, indeed.