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Three O’Clock

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I woke up this morning at three o’clock a.m. to the sound of rain on the tin roof that lines the outer shell of the apartment building I live in. I’m on the top floor and that puts little room between me and the sound. Normally I enjoy the echo of the rain pounding down in sheets, the wind drawing it to and from the building such that when the sky exhales it sounds like a wet towel slapping the back-side of the building. But not last night. Last night I laid in my bed, angry that I couldn’t sleep, bitter about the lack of control I had in the moment to re-escape consciousness, and the reality of the day that had put me in such a foul mood in the first place. I wasn’t angry at anything or anyone in particular — not at the rain, not even at myself — just generally unhappy with the feelings that kept returning in sporadic intervals, bookending laughter, endorphin highs, and brief moments of everyday zen.

I woke up this morning at seven o’clock a.m. to the sound of my alarm but all was not forgotten. I remembered the rain that I hated, and the inexplicable feeling that soiled my otherwise “fine” day prior to the night’s unwelcomed interruption. I cracked an eye, read a text on my phone, replied, and returned my head, face down on the pillow. Another buzz on my phone, another half-conscious effort, another pillow flop, the mind unwilling to return fully from the departure. When I awoke again, whatever it was that was in my head was gone.

Three o’clock a.m.s don’t happen that often, but when they come I’m told to ride out the emotional storm, recognizing that the mental tides are constantly shifting, sometimes unpredictably so. Weeks can pass without issue, then at once, without reason, a volatile mood strikes and life is stripped of its flavor.

Depression is just a word, but the uncontrollable feelings that suck me in and inexplicably warp everything around me go well beyond the power that ten simple letters wield.