The Weight

“My stupid GPS had me going to Oklahoma. The Donut Hole has been here long enough it should be on Google Maps I’d think.”

Kaela smiles at Chelsea.

Chelsea laughs. “I’d get lost even if it was in my backyard, though.”

On the wall behind the pay counter at least twenty dozen donuts sit on wax paper. The colors were bright, the textures varying from smooth and creamy to crunchy and cereal covered.. Roosters decorated a display cabinet telling visitors the neon-colored shirts with more roosters on them were for sale.

“What’ll ya’ have,” asked a man behind the counter.

“Anything to drink?” a woman closer to the coffee stations asked.

“Oh,” Chelsea said, looking from the menu to Kaela. “What do you like here?”

“I’ll have a milk tea, and a maple bacon donut.” Kaela told the young man behind the counter. She stepped back, allowing room for Chelsea at the pay counter.

“Um,” Chelsea said, looking at the menu again. “I’ll have a sugar free caramel latte…” Her gaze drifted from the neon green paper menu pasted on the display case to the stacks of gourmet donuts lining the back wall. “And a cheesecake donut.”

“Good choice,” Kaela affirmed with a smile. “I probably shouldn’t have got a donut. I’ve already had two sugary coffees this morning. After this donut I’m probably going to go into sugar overload.” Kaela jutted her jaw out and demonstrated the seizure-like movements a sugar overload was sure to produce in her.

###

The day before Chelsea had laid in bed more than half the day. It had been an ill-advised action, missing another class could affect her grades. Taking a chance like that this close to graduation had been reckless, and she knew it. Still, her body had felt heavy and incapable of movement.

“I thought you liked school,” said her husband from the hallway.

“I do.” Chelsea sighed.

Confusion tensed his face.

“I can like school and still not feel like going.”

Her body pressed deeper into the bed, pulling the blanket up for warmth.

“So you’re going to skip class?”

“One of my classes cancelled. I’m just going to miss my first class. I’ll get up for the third.”

He opened his mouth then shut it, clenching his jaw. He gave up a huff and walked into the other room.

When her husband left for work she relaxed and rolled onto her side. Sleep greeted her kindly like an old friend’s embrace. When she woke she barely had time to get ready for her third class. It started at 4 p.m., and she needed to leave an hour before that in order to be there on time. She knew the air outside of her blankets would be cold. The blankets felt as though they weighed twenty pounds each. She could hardly move. She longed for tears that she knew wouldn’t come. She stalled until she knew there was no way she could be on time to class, then gave into responsibility and got out of bed. She would be late again. The weight of the blankets followed her out from beneath the blankets. While she lay in bed it felt pleasant, but outside of her covers it felt more like someone had added fifty-pound weights into her shoes. Moving her feet was next to impossible.

“I think we’re going to split this into two separate articles,” Kaela told Chelsea. “One from the perspective of a person who loves someone with depression and anxiety, that is the open letter document I sent to you yesterday. I want it to be a guide for anyone who loves or cares for someone with depression. It’ll explain how we can best love and care for someone who struggles with this disorder.”

Kaela pulled a MacBook from a messenger bag and opened it, her short brown hair outlined by the sun behind her in the window. The setting of the donut shop with the brick buildings of downtown Wichita fit her like a glove. It could be any city, Chelsea thought, but this is where Kaela belonged.

Chelsea picked up the cheesecake donut from the red plastic basket lined with wax paper. It was a cake donut covered in frosting, something filled the hole in the middle, but she had yet to figure out what it was. Taking a bite while Kaela set up shop, she discovered it was applesauce.

“I have enough content from you for a second article,” Kaela told Chelsea. “I have quite a bit already. Right now it’s still in interview format.” Kaela took a quick bite from her maple bacon donut. She brushed her hands against each other to remove any donut crumbs. “That’ll work, but I’d rather make it visually appealing as well as textually. Perhaps an image accompanying a quote readers might share on social media.”

Chelsea nodded. That was a typical format for many online articles. Kaela was the content manager for a new prevention initiative with Wichita State University. They were currently working on launching a website. This article, if approved, would be published on the website.

“So maybe you could answer the couple of questions I sent to you earlier, and then we could discuss organization of the article.” Kaela knew Chelsea was a writer too. Chelsea had some experience with interviewing with the university newspaper. It felt odd to her to be on the opposite side of an interview.

“Sure,” Chelsea said with a smile. She opened the email application on her IPhone to find the list of questions she needed to work from.

            What can we do to generate more positive language surrounding anxiety and depression?

            Chelsea sat unmoving for nearly a minute – a computer searching for data.

Kaela shifted in her seat. Her eyes looked around the room from the cheetah print carpet to the pop-culture themed table.

“Sorry, I’m just trying to word this right,” Chelsea said. She put her phone down on the table in front of her.

Kaela nodded. “That’s alright. Take your time.”

Chelsea took a bite of her donut and chewed slowly. Her eyes searched the walls. “Unfortunately,” she finally said, “depression, like cancer, is a nasty disease with no upside. In a diseases like these, we cannot create positive language. Our best option is to eliminate the negative language.”

Chelsea expanded on her response, continuing the metaphor of cancer to depression. She hoped it wouldn’t come across as demeaning toward those who suffer from cancer, but instead as a concrete comparison that more people felt comfortable thinking about.

She thinks people don’t want to understand depression. The thought of not being in control of one’s own mind can be scary, and most people don’t want to consider it a possible reality. They don’t want to know that you can want to be a part of life, and feel like your body is on strike. They would rather blame the person for being lazy than think all those times they called someone lazy could have affected that person’s mental healthy. People don’t want to consider that being depressed means anything more than being sad. People don’t want to know that being at war with yourself can be a very real description for some people. They’d rather just call you crazy.

The clicking of keys on Kaela’s MacBook got louder as she typed faster. Once or twice she’d ask Chelsea to “hang on” while she finished typing the previous sentence. Then she’d take another bite of her maple bacon donut and return to key pressing.

When Chelsea thought her thoughts were as fully expressed, as she’d be able to that day, she looked back at her phone for the next question to answer. It was a two-parter, and the last question on the list.

What are you doing to change the language surrounding anxiety and depression in your own life? Your internal dialogue?

Again, she thought a moment before answering. She looked down into her phone, as if staring at it would somehow write out a correct response for her. Her manicured and make-up covered brows furrowed as she thought.

“In order to change the world, you have to change your community. In order to change your community, you have to change your support group. In order to change your support group, you have to change yourself.” Chelsea looked up at Kaela, who was nodding and sipping through the thick straw of her milk tea. There were blueberries at the bottom. Chelsea briefly thought “gross” before returning to the topic at hand.

“That’s why therapy was healthy for me.” Chelsea’s cheeks pinked with the admission of that statement. Kaela knew about Chelsea’s need to go to therapy, but this reaction came every time the word “therapy” was said aloud in front of Chelsea. “The therapist would question everything I said. She’d ask me if that was really what I thought, or if that’s my depression talking. If I said something poor about myself, she’d ask me if I would ever say – or even think – that about a loved one or friend of mine.” Chelsea’s words were beginning to come more quickly now, and Kaela was typing furiously to keep up.

“After awhile, I could hear her in my own head when I wasn’t there. It was like that kid’s movie Inside Out, like she lived in there and made me think differently than before. Once I could question my own motives more regularly, I had to start questioning myself aloud.” Chelsea looked up at Kaela, who was still trying to catch up. Chelsea paused, recognizing the need to slow down.

“That probably sounds crazy,” she said to her sister in-law in less of an interview answer tone than before. She looked like a puppy apologizing after knocking over her bowl of food. “I just thought, ‘Maybe if other people see me questioning my own way of thinking, they’ll be able to do the same.’ You know one in every three people suffers from some form of depression or anxiety? I just thought maybe one of those people would hear me trying to change my own way of thinking, and find inspiration in the fact that if this crazy lady could do it, maybe they could too.”

Kaela nodded and slowed the pace of her typing. Chelsea finished her cheesecake donut and took a sip of her coffee. It wasn’t as good as the donut, but coffee is coffee, and this was a much better roast than Cains Coffee. This coffee tasted like someone had been mixing cheap creamer and syrup with an expensive roast. It was almost good, but fell short.

“That’s normal.” Kaela told Chelsea with a kind smile – a smile that shone from her eyes. The warmth of friendship seemed to radiate from Kaela and across the table, relaxing Chelsea’s tense shoulders.

“Hmm?” Chelsea took another sip from her coffee and sat up straighter, as if she’d forgotten the other woman sat there. In reality, she’d forgotten their connection. She knew the woman sat there, but had forgotten how much this woman would care about the story she now told – she wasn’t just an interviewer, but also a friend and a sister.

“That’s normal. The inner voice thing… you’re not crazy. We all do that, I think. Have little conversations in our heads with ourselves about right and wrong and what to do next.”

 

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