I can trace back the exact moment that my childhood stopped being magical. Not in the sense that my life was great before that, far from it, but I still had my imagination. I could go anywhere and do anything. Mostly I was a superhero, I had adventures every night under the covers in my bed. Fantasies so vivid that they would follow me into my dreams. On more than one occasion, I would find myself on the floor the following morning.
But one day, my grandmother gave me a simple, plastic, toy horse. It didn’t light up, talk, or even move. I was left to use my imagination to bring it to life. I stood staring blankly at my grandmother, just holding this horse in my hands.
Try as I might, I couldn’t bring it to life. No matter what I did, it felt less like an adventure and more like holding a used plastic horse. Whatever I had, that I called sanctuary, had left me.
That was when I had my first experience with true depression and with it came a smile. It was liberating, given the history of my childhood, to not feel anything. I felt untouchable, that I had finally mastered some hidden talent or tapped into an unknown superpower. I didn’t smile because I was happy, no. I smiled because it was the only expression I could remember well enough to do reliably.
People treat you differently when you are depressed. Like you are broken, which is depressing all on it’s own, who wants to be ‘broken’? Attempts from friends to remind me that my life wasn’t bad [which unbenounced to them it really was] just reminded me of how screwed up I was. No one bothers to tell you sorry you are depressed, they don’t ask how they could help, they just kept trying to fix me.
One day bled into another and soon years of my life were forgotten in what felt like the blink of an eye. It wasn’t until I was free from my family and I had access to help, that my feelings started to come back. Not all at once mind you, no that would be too easy.
I woke up one morning, in my [semi] own place and sat alone at the breakfast table. I poured myself a bowl of Peanut butter Captain Crunch and for no real reason, I cried. It wasn’t sad tears, or happy tears, or even angry tears. They were just tears, I cried off and on for weeks. Usually for no other reason than I wasn’t crying at that particular moment, so with that realization, the tears would come.
It should come as no surprise that a bowl of Peanut butter Captain Crunch, to this day, is strangely comforting.
Some days, when I’m feeling particularly sentimental, I think back to that day and wonder what it was that cost me the loss of the only safe place I had. Was it just my age? Was it something about the horse? Or maybe life finally caught up to me.
Whatever it was that occured that day, I didn’t tap into some new superpower. Just the opposite in fact, I was introduced to my arch nemesis. One that would try to thwart anything I would try to do with my life.