The Duck and the Iceberg sounds like a parable, and I really wish I had a nice parable for you, but already today I’ve taken a shower, restarted my computer which keeps shutting itself down, researched what to do when your computer keeps shutting itself down, replied to a handful of Fb messages and comments (some on my most popular thread ever: http://bit.ly/2mFD1NX), skimmed a New Yorker article on what happens when you phone Congress (which I need to know because I plan to phone Congress several times today and I’ve been phoning semi-regularly for a while now in my attempt to personally right the ship of state), and worked really hard to move one or two hairs from the wrong side of my part to the right side.
And yet I am sitting entirely still at this moment. Except for my fingertips. That’s what makes me ducklike. That, and my depression.
I told my therapist (and I think I told my ARNP, and I told family members and friends, and a former and future colleague I worked with yesterday) that I’m doing everything I possibly can to regain (or create from scratch) a state of mental health and balance, a return to the life in early 2016 that turned to fog and dissipated in late 2016 — and yet, THIS is where I am now? I mean, I’m taking a new medication, I’m exercising nearly every day instead of just 3-4 days a week, I’m taking new supplements and forgoing coffee and most sugar, I’m starting to share my story more and more to combat both stigma and loneliness, I’m using a bio-identical hormone to deal with peri-menopause, I went ecstatic dancing last week and will be adding more of that to my life, I’ve written long posts on Fb 3 days in a row and published a blog post last week… and still I spent three days last week crying, and still I have been in conflict with my husband about big things we can’t even get our arms around, and still and still and still.
All I’ve been doing and I’m not fixed yet?
“Fixed” is such a rich word. It’s what you do when something is broken, or more fertile than you’d like, or wobbling or detached, or nearly but not quite part of a photograph. I know I’m not broken but I didn’t want to use the word “better,” because I am better. Life is much better than it was in October, when I spent too much time on the couch (not the talk-therapy kind, the kind in front of the TV), and it’s much better than in November, when I decided to stop beating myself up for spending time on the couch, and better than December, when I finally realized I could reach out for help… but I am not back to the state of health that “Get better!” implies.
My therapist says most of us humans are ducks, kicking busily underwater so we can seem to glide overwater. Well, I feel sorry for most humans. All that kicking is tiring. In one particularly intense moment with my husband, I hollered, “I’m EXHAUSTED!” and he said, “I can tell,” with astonishing and embracing sympathy.
Whereas the iceberg, all majesty and chill, just looks like less on top than it is underneath. Again, most humans are icebergs, though not always as cold and passive as what The Onion refers to as the “world’s largest metaphor.” So much beneath the surface, so vulnerable to calving as global temperatures rise.
I’d rather be a duck, but I’d rather be a duck in flight, or a sleeping duck, finally laying its lovely head down on its back and just floating.
Composition note: I wrote and posted this to Fb a few weeks back, and among the many warm and supportive comments was the ballpoint drawing of The Mighty Duckberg from Zack Hewell, a theater artist I worked on a show with way back in ’15. It’s very moving to have your words inspire art from another person, and quite an honor. Looking back over what I wrote, I’m glad to have spit it out nearly as you read it here, and to feel embraced instead of rejected for sharing my recent history. That’s all I really want for all artists and from all art: acceptance of the off-balance, the eccentric, the weird. We are all weird, so weird is actually normal, so just keep airing your weirdness and you’ll find that others are there with and for you. Gratitude to Zack.
You don’t have to be crazy to comment on my posts, but it helps! Let me know what effort you’re putting into your duck kicks — I deeply care.