I can't remember a night I did not sleep without draining hours staring into a computer screen. Modern day insomnia.
I can't remember a night where I lay in darkness, in silence, before slumber. The virtual world offers too many distractions. It offers panacea for the depressed mind. It brings the world to the alone.
It did happen tonight, though. I sat on my bed and heard nothing but the sound of Bollywood dramas and my father's echoing snores from downstairs. I took my glasses off and I stared at my midnight snack -- no, that's a lie -- dinner. A slice of triple mousse cake & five cookies in a paper plate.
I didn't think twice when I silently scavenged these foods out of my fridge and pantry. I didn't think twice as I brought them to my bed upstairs. I was hungry, and I had only eaten once at lunch earlier in the day; chicken tenders and sweet potato fries.
I was hungry, and so I took my first bite and swallowed more than cake. The hunger was gone, but not the ache. I stared at my plate and I remembered a video I recently watched in my late-night Internet travels, a story told by Imam Khalid Latif told at an NYC Story Slam two years ago.
He tells a story about going to visit his mother late at night. As she is preparing his favorite food with special love, she drops a utensil, sparking Latif's realization that his mother is growing older.
He tells a story of inevitable separation. He tells a story about choice. His mother's food, the way she makes it, is temporary, unlike foods he can choose to eat or make himself. Her food in that way is unique. He says that a day will come where she will be gone, and how his heart will then ache.
It is not a story of relative blessings. I open my fridge and there has always been an abundance of food compared to many in this world whose stomachs ache deeper than I will ever know. That blessing is never ignored or forgotten.
It's simply a story about a hunger for love.
My mother dropped many utensils in her final months of life. In extreme discomfort, she still somehow poured all her love into her food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner was always there -- whatever it was -- and it was always fulfilling. It was always special, even if it had not been recognized or admired then.
I opened my fridge earlier tonight and yes, there were foods made by my gracious neighbors, some even things my mother would make. But I chose triple mousse cake and cookies, without thinking twice. And when I swallowed it, I realized that had I chosen even my neighbor's food, that ache would still remain. Any other night, perhaps I would have finished the cake. I would have munched on snacks whilst watching YouTube videos until 4am. But not tonight. Not in silence.
That's depression. This -- me writing this at 2:42am -- this is my depression. It's real, it often brings tears, it often sparks anxiety, and it always triggers in absence of sound. It always hurts when I stare at blank ceilings at night and ponder how we will afford this house, how I will graduate college, how I will get a decent job. It makes me think about my mother's death, my father's deteriorating health. It makes me look at a full fridge and see it as empty. It makes me ignore my faith and forget my blessings. It disguises itself as reasonable thinking and encourages unreasonable solutions. It forces me to reflect upon why I'm doing anything and everything I do. It makes me doubt religion and discover my insecurities. It masks itself as humility while shattering my confidence and aspirations.
It makes me hate myself and who it makes me think I am becoming.
And the only anti-depressant is these words, this recognition. I take solace in knowing that like my mother's short life, like her delicious food, like this cake and cookies -- this depression, too, is temporary.
This too shall pass. Even if I find myself at this time tomorrow gazing into a pixelated abyss, feeding my depression induced insomnia into the dark hours of the night. That too will pass.
It will always be temporary.