Trigger warning: this is part of my ongoing series about dealing with depression, and thus with the tone and subject matter of the previous pieces. Proceed (or not!) accordingly.

I hate the phrase "it's always darkest before the dawn." It's actually lightest before the dawn, that's how you know the dawn is coming, that's basically what the dawn is. And the people who say these things to you mean well, which is why I know it is rude to respond with:

Actually, it's always darkest before you get paid enough to have the power reconnected.
or
Dawn? Bitch, it's barely past sunset. Pack a flashlight cause the dark hasn't even started yet!
or
Not in Alaska, sucka!

They do mean well.

I stayed up all night last night, so I have some personal data on when exactly it is darkest with relation to the dawn. I stay up most of the night most of the nights lately. I threw out all of the alcohol and any sort of meds after the incident with the sink so there's nothing to take the edge off of the darkness. My phone service has been suspended and I can't afford internet in the apartment, but even if I called out who would listen?

I decided to make something beautiful, a small light in the dark, and I stayed up all night making paper flowers. I bathed the coffee filters in kool-aid red dye, cherry red, sugar red and let my hands soak for a minute, the sort of red that doesn't turn brown when it's dried.

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I cut long spirals, like myself, spiraling out, uneven lines, slowly spiraling out, until an eventual end one way or the other. My cat batted at the ribbons of filter as I cut, determined to kill the crinkling snakes of paper. She always knows how to ruin a good metaphor.

I made a flower for each person on my mind. Here's one for you Philip, for what it's worth, you are not weak in my eyes. And one for my mom, who thinks everything's fine, because I've been "better" for years. And one for Gus, who listens. And one for my cat, who has pulled it off the table anyway and dragged it under the sofa to be killed and hoarded with the other carcasses of catnip mice, Christmas ornaments, and milk tabs that dared offend her.

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That's the best I could manage, to make a small pretty thing, and hope it gets me through to this alleged dawn. And now it's day time and I have to face the chipper well wishers who will point out that I look tired. And fight the urge to respond with:


Ahh, yes, these bags were actually hand crafted by artisanal inner demons.
or
OH YEAH?! YOU SHOULD SEE HOW YOU LOOK.
or
I prefer to think of it as withdrawal chic.
or
Yeah, my sleep schedule got all messed up because I couldn't remember if it was darkest before or after the dawn.

They do mean well.