Rogue Waves

DSC01324There are no easy answers, but getting stumped at the grocery store was not something I expected. Let me explain, the place was packed after work on a weekday. I swiped my card to pay and before I could process the prompt on the screen “credit or debit?” the cashier sternly said “Ma’am, please, paper or plastic?” with a get-your-head-outta-your-arse kind of expression on her face. From her body language and tone I take it she tried coaxing the answer out of me more than once by this point. “Paper or plastic…is she talking to me?…paper or plastic…she can’t be talking to me…credit or debit…there’s no way she scanned all my items that quickly…”

“ma’am, we’re very busy, paper or plastic?!”

I imagine that on most days the majority of people have no problem choosing between paper and plastic but when you are clinically depressed no one can see that you are drowning right in front of them and the question of paper or plastic becomes moot and tearful. The sheer act of showing up at the grocery store altogether and collecting the items in the cart in this state is a wonder. So at ease sergeant cashier lady!

I use the word drowning because in trying to process what this diagnosis means a childhood memory replays over and over in my mind. On a family vacation to Monterey I once ventured too far into the water, lost my balance and ended up beneath the waves. Just when I thought I’d figured out which end was up I realized I was moving in the wrong direction having touched the sandy bottom of the ocean floor. When I got it right and began groping for the surface I was struck by another wave that disoriented me all over again. That feeling of darkness, panic, and breathlessness that I experienced as a child is as close as I can get to describing this condition.

Oliva, this collection of notes on this blog is for you sweet girl. My intention is not to scare you but to make you aware, if you do wade through this clumsy electronic diary, of an illness that runs in our family. I am not always very good at finding the right words in conversation and have an easier time organizing my thoughts in writing so that’s why I’m sharing this way. I wish this were a lighthearted post. But in life everyone experiences darkness and light. Without the dark we wouldn’t have the moon. I know how much you love the moon. Love you sweet pea.


4 replies to “Rogue Waves

  1. Awe what a sweet way to end your beautiful letter to Oliva. I could see the moon and her big eyes looking up at it. I’m sorry you’re struggling with this, Sandra. If it helps, your post did ease my heart just a bit to know I’m not the only one, although it saddened it to know you have been punished with this stupid and strange affliction. Stand tall Mama.


  2. This post reminded me of a melt down my dear friend had in Walmart after the birth of her 4th child. She literally bawled to the cashier – melting down in a wave of anxiety and depression. It was over something simple – like your paper-or-plastic dilemma. Talking about your struggle is so important, not just for your own healing but for other people. I had a touch of PPD after my second child. It was hard for some people to understand how I could have a beautiful new baby and be sad/depressed. But it was helpful to speak up and realize I wasn’t alone. My dear friend at Walmart wasn’t alone. You are not alone.
    On a lighter note, I wish they’d stop asking us if we want paper or plastic. Just sack my groceries and get on with it, people! 😉


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