Last night I went to dance event on campus. Dance events on campus have been a bit tough for me lately, for a variety of reasons. About a month ago, I showed up to a pre-Ball event. I got there near the beginning, and when I walked in Graham was just about the only person I knew. He and I shared a couple of fun dances, but afterwards I felt all the awkardness of being in a large public place, surrounded by people I don't know or care about, yet feeling completely and utterly alone. I went up to the balcony, where I proceeded to cry for the next hour and a half, off and on.
Tali and K. came to sit with me for some of that time, as did Tpiglette and the Eggman. As I stared down at the dancers below me, I felt as if there were a barrier just at the balcony's edge - a wall of glass, or a window to another world. I could see through it to the people around me, but I couldn't touch them. I could see them laughing, having fun, enjoying the dance, but I could not make myself cross that border and join them. Others could join me in my world, but I couldn't reach them in theirs. I felt trapped; I felt isolated by my own depression.
You can imagine that after such an experience I might be nervous to attend another such event. The next time one was scheduled, I was there only briefly, mostly to help teach the pre-dance class. But I left pretty early.
Then last night I decided to brave the studio again, in the hopes of a better time. And you know what? I got one. I think my three-hour nap beforehand helped quite a bit, as did a pleasant dinner with Reda before driving over together. When I got there, I saw many people I knew, and enjoyed many fun dances with many friends. I also greatly enjoyed watching Reda, Tali, K., and some other friends in their dance group's performance, which combined two-step, hip hop, and belly dancing. And maybe best of all, A. - the original and gold standard in teaching assistants in the social dance community - attended, and she and I got to have a lovely chat together.
Throughout the night, I was excited by how normal I felt. Not by any sort of global expectation of normal, but by my own standards. I felt like me again, and it reminded me that there really was a time when this depression was not my life. I used to have fun, and laugh, and smile, and hang out with friends, and sad times used to be the exception from the rule. And I saw, maybe for the first time, a very real possibility that I could be like that again.
All in all, it was a good night. And it gave me hope. And sometimes, hope is hard to come by.