Wednesday morning. And maybe the only thing left that resembles a routine right now is this early morning writing. I haven’t run in nearly a week. I haven’t cooked. Two days ago Leonard jumped down from the bed and hurt his forefoot. So walks have been pared to a minimum. I’m living on lithium, paracetamol, mozzarella cheese, water, and wine. And that probably isn’t a good thing.

I’m napping daily on the couch, one arm thrown around Leonard. And I find myself looking for the next flashing signpost to tell me how to return to “normal”. Where to go to where I will recognize my body and its habits. Every bruise, every stiff muscle, every low-grade fever, and added pound is a surprise. A weird game of “sweat and spin” that brings back memories of elementary school recesses, arms wide, spinning till we drop on the grass and lie there until the earth is still again.

But it’s never really still. I am too sensitive to the world despite the medication. I still feel every uncomfortable bite. In Rhodes, I swam in the ocean and there were small translucent fish whose nibbles stung like mosquito bites. On my calves. thighs. They would swarm and dart away. So many, so elusive, that I began to wonder if it wasn’t my imagination entirely. A few – a single – fish perceived as a school?

Everything in the water is a threat, but am too lethargic to respond. I lie on the couch and the world spins. Hypomania submerged under pressure, not dispersed. A rabbit shaking in the bushes. Still shaking in the bushes.

A distorted response to a colleague slips past the salt fields. A play-doh version of me. Better to stay at home, one arm around Leonard. Cringe is a popular word lately. A kind of aren’t-we-so-adorable/awful word. No one taking themselves too seriously.

But there’s no self-irony in shame.

And there’s no comfortable way around or alongside the word compliance. You just have to stay in the water.

A deep breath this morning as I sit down. Salted coffee, and blackbirds outside the window. I didn’t write yesterday, but spent a full day with a new printer: learning to adjust for paper weights, manual feed, and double-sided pages. A lot of trial and error. Small steps forward. Or sideways.

No: I am moving forward again.

I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I got my first pair of glasses. But I remember looking at a tree and realizing that you are supposed to see the individual leaves on trees. My eyesight had deteriorated so gradually I hadn’t noticed what I had lost of the world.

This week I feel like I can see the leaves on the trees. It’s not that life is less crowded, but it is more vibrant. Distinguishing the foreground from the background, wresting meaning from it all is easier.

There is a saying that things having gradually then all at once. But these past years, things happened all at once, and then so gradually that I thought changes were improvements, or at least adjustments. I didn’t see the signs of depression because the everyday problems were so tiny compared to the crisis that began it all. How could I be having trouble getting through the day when the worst was over a long time ago?

My world is popping back into three dimensions. Other people seem more substantial. I realize how odd that sounds. I don’t mean that in comparison with how I perceived myself, I have been insubstantial, too. That is what depression does. In my case the desperate search for meaning and pleasure can look like business, like creativity or a “spark” of joy. But the spark is just me bumping against the metallic edge of panic. Wheels spinning, and life is just so much harder than it needs to be. Pinched.

When the doctor asked me if I was depressed, I said I didn’t think so. I said I was overwhelmed, hypomanic. But now I see.

Now I feel like crying. And that is a very good thing.

Last night walking Leonard in the dark, I heard the wheeeEEE of the pterodactyls lapwings. They are back, so it is officially spring. Officially a time to mark new beginnings.

under the streetlight
wet paw prints, footsteps glisten
like loved ones gone by morning
after a crossing over