First Post – the sick niece

It’s another lovely South Florida day. Here, the clouds are a welcome respite from otherwise unencumbered sun. At 79 degrees, with the breeze; however, sitting outside beneath one of the area’s thick, wiry trees is meditative. I read a license plate yesterday that read “The place of endless summer”, and indeed, there are no dog days and no Indian Septembers. The weather is weather-less, for the most part.

My four-year-old niece has a fever, so I’m at my sister’s place watching her while she and my brother-in-law work. Little Leah is adorable, even when sick. She sloths about the house, curling up periodically in the rocking chair with the green blanket engulfing her.

Meanwhile, I’m not well. Five weeks ago when I moved to Florida I was lively with the quest for a new life. Back to school to get a degree in psychology. I know I’m meant to work with people, to help them- and as someone suffering from Anxiety and Depression myself, I recognize the power of the Talking Cure, the hope of therapy, the need to pay attention to mental health.

My program is small, at a tiny university. I found out about Lynn because after a party at my old apartment on Pitkin St. a hooded sweatshirt was found. It was from Lynn. We asked around, but no one took ownership of it. I was considering school and looked up the university, only to find out that it’s in the same town where my sister lives. Craving a change from the monotony of Vermont roads and the crushing blows of winters in February and March, I attempted a move to a sunnier place.

Honestly, I love Florida. The people are friendlier than their stereotype. The beaches are beautiful, the water warm. The architecture, flora, and fauna are unique and worth your contemplation. I like the school. The people and professors are incredibly kind and informed. However, I am not well.

Sadness and Depression rage inside me, which people find interesting because I’m such a happy person. What most people don’t consider is that depression is independent from happiness. They do have some of the same roots, but depression is both a chemical imbalance and a loss of resilience. We get that loss of drive. Leaving, eating, sleeping, talking: these all take too much effort for the depressed person. But I’m quite happy. In love, a good family, an education, security, options… No, I’m plagued by anxiety, by the inability to make a decision. That anxiety leads to depression. I’m so exhausted by the mere thought of decision that I lose the ability to decide anything.

So I sit next to my sick niece and notice how pretty she is, and I feel terrible that she’s not feeling well. I am grateful that my niece and nephew are both intelligent, considerate, and creative people. I’ve no doubt they’ll grow up to be the same way.

Because I can’t decide on anything, I’ve been asking other people, but of course they have biases, their own problems, their own anxieties; leaving me with more fret than decision. So I consider Leah, who is just learning to grow up ever so slowly, and she’s just learning what it means to be yourself, to have your own morals and opinions, and I think that someone this pure must be enlightened, and the blissfulness of childhood must be able to bring some wisdom to my inquiry.

So I ask, “Leah, would you stay in school and miss Brooke terribly, never knowing if you’re really meant to be a psychologist?”

“No.”

“So, would you move back to be with the woman you love and miss, even if it meant giving up some opportunities?”

“No.”

But when I ask her what she’d do instead, because to me these are the only options, she looks away, coughs, and closes here eyes, falling asleep.

I sit down to write this blog and hope the wisdom of her eyes closing brings me some relief.

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