An autobiographical narrative by Tali Yegupov
For Prof. Marie-Therese Blanc’s BXE class Know Thyself
As the Summer Died
Autumn has always been my favourite season. It might be overlooked as a secondary season, being only a transition, but for me, it is so much more. Autumn stands for the rebirth of life and hope; the promise of better tomorrows. Perhaps this certainty stems from my optimistic nature – I often tell friends that ‘depression’ and ‘bad mood’ are foreign concepts to me. However, I can recall a time when I could not stand autumn, a time when it represented a far grimmer belief. In September of my second year of high school, I got sick. A common flu turned into months of bed rest, due to my inability to hold down any form of nutrition. These months were comprised of a week in the hospital, a few more travelling to Toronto to visit various specialists, and the rest wasting away at home, until I slowly started recovering during the winter holidays. My grandmother stayed with me every step of the way, caring, consoling and suffering.
It was the seventh week – or was it the eighth? I do not quite remember as I passed most of the time unconscious, and keeping track of the calendar was the least of my concerns. All I know is that I had come back from Toronto recently, and at the time, we had run out of solutions. My days consisted of sleeping, feeling sick, drinking tea, and fighting to keep the latter down. The only breaks from this routine came in the rare moments I went outside to breathe some fresh air.
So there I was, bundled up and drowsy during one of these rare moments, sitting on the steps in front of the house. In the silence of the cool autumn morning, nothing could distract me from the constant, dull ache that was permeating every cell of my body, or the waves of nausea rolling over me with every breath. As another, stronger wave hit me, I screwed my eyes shut and took a deep, slow breath in and paused. As the feeling slowly settled down, I released my breath shakily and opened my eyes. Immediately, my gaze fell upon the old tree near the road, whose leaves continued to shrivel and fall, as well as the grey sky behind it. The clinical light of morning glared upon the scene, exposing evidence of its degradation. The likeness to a corpse lying on the examination table of a morgue was striking. At that moment, I could not recall what I had liked about this season. It was colorless, harsh, decaying – the death of summer. Surrounded by emptiness, I concluded that all the problems, conflicts, distractions and goals in my life ‘Before Illness’ were worthless. My world, from which I had been so cleanly cut out, had not stopped without me in the picture. Nothing mattered.
My soul was now as broken as my mind and body and I longed for the numbing sleep that I returned to so often in my weak state. “If only…”; I stopped that thought. I looked again at the prediction of my future, the bleak painting of sadness before me, and I let the words flow to the forefront of my mind: “If only it could be forever.” Leaving would be so easy. I was already on the edge, just a couple more pills and then would come relief from the relentless pain.
The door creaked behind me and broke the downward spiralling of my thoughts. I turned my head and there stood my grandma, leaning against the door. The sunlight hit her face and I clearly saw her disarrayed hair, the dark circles, and the worry reflected in her eyes. She searched my face frantically, and then looked straight at me pleadingly: “Come inside, you need to rest.” And I thought: Here I sat, contemplating how my life crumbled while the dearest person to me suffered and lost sleep over me. I felt disgusted with myself. The sun shone brighter just then, bathing us in warmth, coloring the leaves in yellow and red tones. My concerns seemed childish.
After that, I visited another specialist and by January, I returned to school. Granted, the first month I only attended for part of the day as I could only keep the contents of my stomach until first recess, but I gradually became better until my health was fully restored. The recovery proved just as difficult as the illness itself, but it could no longer affect me. What I realised that cold autumn morning still holds true: the world does not revolve around me. As a result, the depression and subsequent desire to end my life never made a comeback. Instead, I took the realisation as a challenge. I do not matter so long as I live solely for myself, and taking any obstacles thrown at me by the universe as a personal affront is useless. I never told anybody about that moment of insanity, and whenever I am asked what my favourite season is, I invariably say ‘autumn’, because it reminds me why I must always move on.