There is a spider who lives in the left side-view mirror of my car. Normally in a situation like this one, I locate the spider in question, grab any kind of object that can be used for bludgeoning, and the spider is no more. However, this situation is different.
Because I’ve never seen it.
I see the cobwebs. I see little gnats tangled up in the silk as I drive down Highway 42. I see the physical proof that it is there, but I have yet to actually see a spider.
And believe me, I’ve tried to be polite in asking it to vacate the premises. I’ve gently wiped away the cobwebs, hoping it would understand that this is not a safe or ideal place for it to be. That it’s work would be appreciated elsewhere.
I’ve told it that it needs to go find a permanent residence somewhere other than the mobile home that is my car’s mirror. I have reasoned with it, begged it, and even tried sticking a leaf in there, hoping it would grab on so I could provide it with a moving service, free of charge.
I’ve done these ridiculous things many times. Many. Times.
And yet, when I get into my car, there is a new tiny cobweb. Several thin threads, zig-zagging across my mirror. Once I found one on the back of my car, stretching from the left tail light all the way to the bumper. At that point, it became a war.
I brought out the water hose and aggressively sprayed down the bumper, the taillights, the doors, the windows, etc. I spent extra time spraying hose water into the mirror it seemed to find so comfortable. The car was drenched. I left feeling quite confident that the spider must have been washed away, much like its predecessor who had a run-in with an overflowing gutter. This itsy bitsy spider was toast.
Or so I thought. I got into my car one day, not long after the great deluge, and began backing out of the driveway.
There it was. Several lines of silk on the mirror, mocking me in the breeze.
We are now at an impasse. I have tried all the things I can think of but still can’t find the spider to serve it eviction papers. It refuses to give up its squatter’s rights.
I have since named it Frank.
And it made me wonder why Frank bothers me so much. I mean, does it really matter?
Apparently, it does since I can’t let it go and am writing about it.
I hate that Frank is where it doesn’t belong. It makes me feel dirty and gross that a spider has a forwarding address in my vehicle.
But what really bothers me about Frank is that it reminds me of my depression.
No one around me knows about Frank other than me. I don’t tell people about Frank because it’s not a great conversation piece.
Frank doesn’t bother or interfere with anyone else’s life apart from my own. It isn’t climbing from car to car while I’m in Publix shopping, wreaking havoc in the parking lot on a Godzilla-level scale.
It only affects me. But it affects me deeply.
There is tangible evidence that I’m depressed, but I’m the only one who sees it. That emptiness and sorrow will startle me awake in the morning or keep me up long past a sensible bedtime. But all anyone else sees is that I’m a little more tired, that I don’t make quite as many jokes, or that I cancel plans a little more often.
My depression is like those tiny strands of silk that cover my mirror. It doesn’t affect other people’s views of me, but it affects my view of myself.
And even though people would be surprised if I told them I was depressed, it doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me wonder if I can’t even be depressed “right.”
And much like how I have tried to deal with Frank, I have done all the things in my power to wash away this depression. I have tried the advice of other people who don’t carry this emptiness inside them. And all those things are well and good, but the cobwebs of depression return.
Tiny strands of sadness that don’t obstruct my view but change the way I see the world continue to layer themselves across my mind.
Frank is still in my mirror. I am still depressed.
But I find some comfort in knowing that although no one else can see Frank or really know the sadness and sorrow I carry within me, it’s OK for me to feel however I want or need to feel.
I’m not broken beyond repair because this depression won’t magically go away. I haven’t done anything wrong or terrible that made me deserve to feel this way.
Nor did I ask for Frank to move in. I’m not making Frank fly daiquiris poolside, trying to get him to move into the penthouse of my rearview mirror. But being able to acknowledge and name my feelings brings some hope and some peace. And makes me feel like maybe Frank and I aren’t alone. And neither are you.
Depression has a way of making us feel incredibly isolated. We’re here to remind you of the truth that you are not alone. We encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.