When I went through Effexor Hell about a decade back, I was so depressed I couldn’t leave my apartment. My marriage crumbled. My kids lost the best parts of their mother, for months. To call it a dark, and horrible time is a huge understatement. I sat in our dark, roach-infested, crappy West LA apartment and tried to hold it together. And for 9 months, give or take a few, I did.
I folded 1000 origami cranes at some point, I don’t exactly remember when, or how I got the idea. I just know that in the darkest, most horrible time of my life, each tiny paper bird was a prayer. Each little string of paper birds represented another day of me choosing not to kill myself, a day I chose my kids, my life, and the light. The pile of paper birds grew and grew, and eventually the light shone back in. The medications that were causing me so much difficulty were straightened out by my doctor. I felt so much better.
I gave strings and strings of those birds away. A friend hung several hundred on the fence at Manzanar. They still hang cheerfully in friends’ cars, in their windows, in their houses; all those little prayers for salvation and light. Yesterday I gave the last string of those paper birds away and kept just my favorite for myself.
It felt really good to let go of the last of them. I am grateful, every single day, that I chose to live. Life did get better.
I can’t say that things were the same after I got well. My marriage was still done. My kids still had to deal with the fallout of my illness. Financially, it was bad. But it kept getting better and if it wasn’t the same, it was at least a different kind of good. My kids grew up into resilient, sassy, smart young women. We moved to Casa Fabulous and did Faires. I met Captain Sexypants. Started a business. Made pretty things. Opened a store. Lost the store. Left LA. Got a grandbaby (best thing EVER!!). Moved back to LA.
Life went on and life is so full of things I’m glad I got to experience!
I won’t lie. Some weeks depression and anxiety come in uninvited, put their feet on my coffee table, and leave sticky messes in the kitchen. But they always leave again. We’ve learned to deal with each other a little better.
2 3 (whoops! I am simultaneously relieved that we have more time, and omg it’s only 3 weeks from now… EEEEE!!!) weeks from today, I am going to stand up with Captain Sexypants and we are going to say some vows at sunset next to the Kansas lake he grew up at, and then we’ll be married. We’ve got rings and everything. I’m so happy, sometimes I’m afraid to admit it to myself. I’m really happy. I’m a little bit afraid to say that, a little bit superstitious, a little afraid I’ll jinx it, but I think it’s okay to say it out loud.
Y’all, I’m really, really, really happy.
I was browsing Pinterest looking for DIY wedding decorations and ideas the other day (because what other kind of wedding decoration would the Cap and I have, this is us after all), and found some lovely pictures of weddings that used strands of origami cranes as decorations. “How lovely,” I thought. And then I thought, “How perfect.”
and I started to fold…
Each tiny bird, a prayer of thanksgiving for the light. For prayers answered. For my life. For the happy. For the life we get to build together.
They’ll hang from the rafters and from the poles of our huppah, those tiny little paper prayers of thanksgiving and blessing. Little wishes that, when times get hard, we hang in there, keep going, and keep loving each other.
125 tiny prayers down. 876 to go…
And I just want to say, reader… if you are in a dark place right now or if ever you find yourself there? If you are looking for the light and you just aren’t sure you want to stay here anymore?
I want to tell you, I hope you choose to live too. I promise it gets better. I hope you grab for the light with both hands and hang on tight until you’re held up again by the good people and good things around you.
I’m rooting for you.