It can almost be funny sometimes to look back at what triggers a depression episode. Almost, because it’s not actually funny, but you want to laugh.
Tonight’s episode brought to you by Cold, Uneaten Sandwich.
My wife can be incredibly indecisive sometimes. If kidnappers took me hostage and told her she had to decide on a color for their hideout within the next ten minutes or they’d execute me, I’m resigned to the fact that their floor and walls would be decorated Blood Red and she’d spend the next month trying to decide funeral arrangements.
Tonight her indecisive thing was dinner. She was hungry, and it was up to me to figure out what to do. It was also up to me to choose lunch, and dinner the night before, but to her credit she did technically pick lunch yesterday, even if I picked it from her list of top three choices. It’s almost a game we play because we’re horribly irresponsible people who only come up with pre-planned menus for maybe a week and that’s maybe once a month. We’re working on it.
Since I cook more often, this decision often gets shoved onto me. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t care what she ate. We had plenty of leftovers in the fridge and cupboard from the long weekend for her to have two or three meals. Everything I offered her was met with a “I guess that sounds okay,” which really means “no, what else do you have?”
During this process I figured out we had some fresh pastrami, bread, Colby cheese, and spicy mustard. I’m not a master chef, but it sounded like a great combo. I buttered up two slices of bread, added one to the pan while stacking everything else neatly, a touch of truffle salt, and one hot, gooey, salty sandwich was coming right up.
At the time, I was even joking about it. I was a little annoyed that she’d forced me to choose yet again when I wasn’t even hungry (to her credit, I didn’t tell her I wasn’t hungry or she may have told me not to worry about it, but then I would have felt like I was being selfish and saying “not my problem” simply because it didn’t matter to me); however, since thought I had found a winning combo, I wasn’t worried about it.
“You started this war,” I said in my best General Tullius impression, “plunged Meal Time into chaos—and now the Empire is going to put hunger down!”
I thought it was clever. She just shook her head with that “you’re such a nerd” look.
I’ll spare some details now, but for whatever reason, she took one look at my latest culinary creation and turned her nose up at it. She insisted I must have made it for myself. I think it was because the bread was just past it’s expiration, but I looked it over and it was perfectly clean. Once she has decided something in the fridge or cupboard has gone bad, however, no amount of convincing will change her mind. Even if the expiration date is another week out.
It shouldn’t have been a big deal. I don’t expect her to love everything I cook. She can be picky sometimes, and in years of being married, I’ve come to accept it.
*Pop!* Just like that. I scooped the sandwich up, put it on a plate, and set it aside. I calmly gathered up the meat, cheese, and bread, and put them all away, then went back to sit down at the computer. I was feeling more than a healthy dose of Screwitol™, not disappointment or hurt over anything, just…nothing. That empty, gnawing feeling that isn’t a feeling. Suddenly nothing sounded enjoyable, and if I had had any inclination to make myself a sandwich as well, it was completely gone. Food was the last thing I wanted.
After a few minutes of staring at Facebook blankly because I didn’t care what anyone else was doing at the moment, I got up and quietly laid down on the bed. I just needed time to calm down and think. It wasn’t the sandwich, at least not alone. There was also the pressure of trying to make decisions, of feeling responsible to make sure my wife had dinner; those were contributors maybe, but really behind it was a long work week with high amounts of stress and the eventual realization that because no one acknowledged the overtime and effort I had put in, in my head, the work wasn’t finished. I had signed off on it because everything seemed to be in order, but the nagging perfectionism in the back of my head wasn’t going to be happy until the work had seen a full, successful conclusion confirmed by management. There are also other stresses that constantly churn in the back of my head, that contribute every time to my eyes glazing over and wanting to shut the world out.
There’s also the fact that I’m probably often somewhat depressed, but I’ve grown to live with a small degree of it. It doesn’t affect my day-to-day. It’s only when I experience certain triggers—and they often aren’t all that related to each other—that it hits me hard enough that I have to stop and take a break, and realize that that is what’s going on.
My wife came in and laid on the bed with me for a while, not really saying much. Later I apologized for being moody and assured her it mostly wasn’t her. I won’t lie and pretend it had nothing to do with it, but being honest means realizing that depression brought on by anxiety, stress, or other factors often have a buildup over time, and are not brought on by a single event (unless it’s a particularly traumatic one).
The sandwich is still sitting there, alone, cold, and uneaten. I imagine it would have been good.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll try it again.