September 26, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Sleep and fruit

By |2018-03-21T19:07:25+01:00September 6th, 2015|First Person|
The ouroboros syndrome — the snake eating its own tail.

hese days I hear the call of the siren. And she sings the song of sleep.

Sleep envelops, embraces and erases. There are times when I can’t wake up. The Sleep takes over. It dominates me. And when I do wake up I remain in a fog, unsure of where I am or how I got there, wanting to sink under again, knowing I can’t. When I get up, I crave the sugar of fruit.

This is depression. I have suffered from it on and off for years. At times like this, I can’t bring myself to be social, to get in the car and go somewhere, or to ask for help. I have already had help. I take medication regularly. It’s unpleasant to think about what life would be like without it, but maybe it has ceased working.

What brought it on this time? Empty-nest syndrome: both my daughters are now officially in New York and I am here, going through this transition. A drop in work level: I need my deadlines.

I try and make plans for the months ahead: work projects, the gym, dance classes, parties with friends, short trips. But will they happen? Will I make the effort, which right now seems huge? I know I have to find something, simply to survive.

I know I’m not alone. And by that I mean that I am not alone in feeling this and I am not alone in the world. I have reached out to old friends, just to talk. They know my weaknesses and don’t judge. My daughters don’t need to be bothered with my problems. They couldn’t do anything anyway. My relatives, as kind as they want to be, will not solve them.

The only characters who share my days — my dogs and cats — are as peaceful and kind as always. They keep me afloat.

Can writing pull me out of it? Only if I get beyond these first phrases and sensations. I have to unpack the details. Otherwise, I fear the words will only float on the surface. And fear of this induces anxiety, which stops me from writing. It’s ouroboros syndrome — the snake eating its own tail.

Too much time on my hands? Now, yes. But usually — when I am engaged and active — there’s never enough time to do everything.

People generally see me as someone who loves to laugh, who enjoys life, who is strong and determined. Perhaps this is all true. But not now. And they don’t see me now. I wouldn’t want them to. The preconceptions associated those who suffer from depression can be a form of discrimination. If only it was like blood pressure. “Yes, I’m taking care of it, it’s under control.”

But I am taking care of it. And I am taking care of myself. With time — and with piles of firm, juicy nectarines and sweet melons, with every single tiny strawberry and misshapen raspberry that grows in my garden, it will pass. And I will become stronger for it.

About the Author:

Stransky lives Tuscany and wrote the "La Una" column between 2014 and 2017.