These days, if you see me and ask how I am, I’ll say that I’m fine. And I’m lying. I’m lying through my teeth. But what is the alternative? When is it ever a good time to tell the truth about how you’re feeling, when you happen to be lost, in the darkest depths of depression? How do you tell the truth, when you can’t find the words to tell the story of yourself, to yourself? The truth is, depression has made me reclusive. And I’m so very lonely. Solitude I can deal with. Solitude I can enjoy. But not loneliness. That’s the real kicker, the real killer, when you long to hear a friendly voice, but cannot ask, dare not ask, for anything. I’m isolated. Desolate. Broken. Being with other people is physically and psychologically exhausting. But I have to get on with it: I have responsibilities. So when I must, I put on the mask, the polish that makes me look like…me. And I get on with it. Thank god for lipstick.
But there are the days when I am not obliged to put on the mask, or at least, not straight away. These are the days when I pay for the expenditure of positive energy; when I absolutely cannot move from my bed. I cry, and cry, until exhausted enough to doze a while, and then I wake and cry again. And then I get up, and transform into me – with a great deal of effort, rather than the ting! of a fairy godmother’s wand – and go out to collect my daughter from school. Thank god for lipstick.