Veronica is beautiful. She is talented. I first noticed her because she is training to be an opera singer. Her passion for a classic art form is enchanting. She runs half-marathons and introduced me to spinach smoothies. Sometimes she’s silly and makes up impromptu dances to the music in a commercial or asks me for a random word so that she can make up a rhyme. She has one dimple on her right cheek. Her smile is crooked. I can easily carry her petite 5’4” frame to bed when she falls asleep while reading on the couch, our cat tucked in peacefully by her feet.
On the bad days, I lose her. Maybe not in the physical sense of the word, but in all the ways that really matter. I’ll find her buried under blankets and self-loathing in our bed. These are the moments I know that she is in her bubble, an imaginary but almost impermeable barrier that separates our hearts and that I tirelessly beat at until the fists of my soul are bleeding. I’ll ask her what’s wrong, but we both know. Her depression has decided to take the wheel on today’s activities, which means that my beautiful girl is a slave to her own self-hate. I won’t see that dimple today. She won’t run or sing or dance today, not because she doesn’t want to, but because she is paralyzed by her hidden depression.
Though I can see thousands of thoughts whizzing through her mind, her eyes are empty and her mouth stays closed. I hold her and gently caress her long, dark hair until she is able to give me any clue as to how firm a grasp the monster has on her today. “I want to die,” she whispers, barely audible. Every glimpse in the mirror is followed by commentary that kills me. “I am disgusting and ugly and fat and worthless and I don’t deserve anything.” My baby is broken and I hold her tight in my arms, hoping to keep the pieces together as I silently pray for help. Usually she’ll fall asleep, for as she explains to me, sleep is the closest to not being alive that she can get without actually dying.
Sometimes it takes a while for her to come back to me. It’s hard to fight something you can’t see. I don’t always know the right combination of things to do to make the depression loosen its grip on my girlfriend’s little wrists. She spends a lot of time crying, lost inside of herself and unable to find the way out. As we’ve grown together, I’ve learned to keep the flashlight handy. Sometimes she can climb out on her own. Other times, she needs me to help her dig a way out. Her therapist is much better at this than me. But I am fueled by a deep love and devotion to the woman whom I know is my soul mate, and I will work tirelessly for the rest of my life to find her every time she is taken captive by the ugly creature known as depression.