Well here we go: my first breakup. We were shopping on a Sunday afternoon. I needed pants because I have three pairs of pants, one of which is ripped denim, but I can’t climb the corporate ladder and make all the money in the world with ripped denim. Not in today’s polite society. He needed a sweater because February was amongst us in the Windy City, and despite it being the most mild winter I could remember, we were retracting into our shells, hiding from the grey sky, looking for more layers.
So there we were: shopping. We walked in the door and I wondered how I even got there, when, flashback to that morning, all I wanted to do was sleep and sleep and sleep. I knew (the black hole that I am), if I didn’t get up, didn’t get out, didn’t build mobility and alter my inertia, I would suck deeper and deeper into my pillows. I would suck anyone around me down with me. He was struggling to stay up and out too, so there we were: shopping, looking, doing. OK.
The store was not so big, but I lost him somewhere in the rack of t-shirts and summer shorts. I saw the shell of his body but his mind was far away, investigating water and life potential on Mars. Meanwhile, I was trying on pants in the much too lit dressing room, not fitting well into any sizes. Not the small. Not the medium. Not the large. Everything felt wrong but it wasn’t about the pants.
When I made the big reveal, he agreed they looked weird. He did not kiss me. He was uncertain about sizes for his own layers, and in that moment, we were wrong for each other and wrong for the city and wrong for those pants. When, in other moments, we were perfectly right.
We have a lot in common. We both would gladly marathon Seinfeld in a fort that neither of us have the energy to build. We both need time alone and time together and time to be dragged up and out for a milkshake and a walk. We both need comfort and patience. We both suffer from clinical depression.
When we ventured on to our next task (getting pizza), the music was loud and I didn’t want to eat and my anxiety flew through the roof so I left my slice at the table to go cry in the bathroom. I’m not a good actor, so upon returning, he did not believe me when I told him I was fine. He wanted to talk, but he knows that sometimes (read: most times), I just can’t. OK. In the winter, with depression, it is especially hard and daily tasks like getting up, cleaning, or explaining feelings is a hill that, in our eyes, becomes a mountain to overcome. But we are patient and when it is done, we feel better and just a little bit new again.
Later, we sat on a bench along a Chicago Boulevard and looked up. “Have you ever looked through a telescope?” he asked me. “Would you like to?” My eyes were raining and for what reason? I don’t know, but the air was dry. It was my turn to go to Mars, but on Earth, you are only supposed to look at the moon. OK.
I could not imagine leaving him and I did not want to, and the same, I think, was true for him of me, but we were all sorts of wrong and holding onto each other because two bodies are warmer than one. Spring was coming, though, so maybe, hopefully, we would be ok in a party of one, we thought. I cared for him, I was frustrated by him, I wanted to explore more but only a little and was I ignoring my own desires? Cursing relationships, I wanted to change, without the painful and scary parts of going through and adjusting to those changes. All the same was true for him, of me. We had growing and learning and changing to do. Still it is hard to say whether our issues were with each other or ourselves, both suffering from sometimes manic, depressive and anxious tendencies, but we were sad together, letting the sadness bounce off one another. We would be sad alone too, but it felt right. So it was the cherry on top: we broke up.
Later: I am up and down and the slightest things make a difference. Walking outside helps. Seeing friends helps. Keeping busy is good news. Go to new places. Listen to new music. Make news. Make a list of all the things you want to do in the year and the month and the week and the day. Remember that you are a full, capable, interesting person on your own. Do yoga and eat healthy food. Stay hydrated. Take care of yourself. Do what makes you happy and be selfish. You are allowed to be selfish. I am no expert, but these are the things I have learned so far.
Sarah Lisovich is the Senior Editor and Content Strategist at CIA Medical. As a Chicago-based writer and editor, she has published creative, medical, and lifestyle writing both in print and in online publications.