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Life Lessons

Attention! It Is Cherry Season!

two cherries in a palm
Kelsey McKinney/Defector

Whenever I’m not depressed, I forget about how my brain is my enemy. The only analogy I’ve ever found to describe what it’s like having clinical depression goes like this:

Imagine you are standing on a platform with a trap door, but you cannot see beneath you. You know that down there, under the platform, is water, but you can’t see it when you’re standing up high, so it’s easy to go about your life and forget that it’s there. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get a countdown, a series of signals and hints that the platform is about to drop you down into the water, but sometimes you don’t and the ground just gives way and you’re there: wet. What’s scary about the water is that you never know which part of the pool you will be dropped in, and if you think too long about that, you can drive yourself to an even earlier drop with worry. Will you land in the shallow end, uncomfortable, and unhappy, but able to breathe and work and maybe even laugh? Or will you end up in the deep end, where it’s really hard to keep your head above water, but you can still bounce off the floor? God forbid it opens above the Olympic Diving Pool. That’s the shit you don’t want.

When you take pills for your brain for as long as I have, you realize that the goal of medication isn’t to get you off this terrible and terrifying platform. That’s your life, baby! You’re stuck there! If the goal of therapy is to teach you to hear the countdown in your life, the goal of medication is to make the pool shallower. A six-foot depth becomes a shallow end. You never land in the Diving Pool. But the pool never disappears. It’s always there for you.

Right now, I feel good. My new therapist says that I am in a state of HEIGHTENED AWARENESS because of the anticipation surrounding the release of my book, but I’ve been in therapy forever, so I know better than to think that this really good week (and it is really good! I’m so proud of myself!) will last forever. I’m not cured. The depression will come back. That’s not to try and dampen what is a very fun and exciting week for me. It’s actually easier to make myself celebrate when I know that the pool will be there for me again one day.

This moment of feeling good is something I wrote about back in February that many of you messaged me about. I have no memory of writing the essay “When the Cherries Run Out,” but when I went back to read it this morning, I found it not bad! It reminded me that although I wrote that blog in a depressive episode, it is actually about not being in a depressive episode. It is about preparing for the trap door to open by making a bunch of fucking cocktail cherries so you have something to live for. It’s stupid, but whatever. It works. That piece ended with me writing, “This winter will end. They all do. The cherries will come.”

GUESS WHAT, BABES? I was right! I’m a prophet! The cherries are back! I have sweet cherries in my fridge which I am eating by the handful. I saw the farmer’s market man post on Instagram that sour cherries will be back this weekend. You know what that means! It’s time to make the cocktail cherries. The recipe I use is in the other blog and I shan’t rewrite it here. But if you want to make them, now is the time. There is a brief two-week window of excellence and then you will have to live without them yet again.

In the happy seasons, when the cherries are here, we must take advantage of our good brains and our good harvest. We must enjoy ourselves. We must pit and jar as many cherries as we can, because the days are already getting shorter, the future is always before us, the pool is always there, even if we can’t see it.

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When The Cherries Run Out