I believe that a hug from my son is the best anti-depressant I’ve ever had. I didn’t know what depression was. I just thought I was a really deep person. I used to cry at the thought of any terrible thing. Not only a terrible thing but even a happy one. The opening ceremony of the Olympics, at game show winners, a dead baby bird in the street, a broken window. I used to cry whenever my parents shouted at me or left me alone, when they told me I was a terrible daughter. When their disappointed faces lectured me about my A-. Why couldn’t I get an A? I went through life and college “depressed”, but I really managed okay. I got a degree, got married, had children. My daughtership duties were being fulfilled. And the pills my doctor prescribed me were great. They kept me on even ground, kept the tears from flowing, and kept my laughter contained. But I don’t think anyone noticed really because I hid it so well. I was only depressed behind closed doors, in the dark or late at night. And then my 3-year-old son ran to give me a hug one day. I returned home after being gone for just a few hours, but now I realize, I had been gone for almost 30 years. He was smiling, and running as fast as he could. There was a dangerous urgency to him, he needed to touch me, to wrap his little arms around my neck, to squeeze his cheek into mine and let out a defiant “mmm”. It took three seconds and no words. I felt it surge into my skin, through my bones, all the way into the center of my chest and heart. It was more than love — it was a primal need to share something. He needed to share it with me and it was his conscious decision. I hugged him back and squeezed his whole body as hard as I could. There was no need to translate anything with words, he understood me and backed away smiling. So now, I go to him when I feel the darkness creeping in. When someone shoots a hateful arrow my way, or a snooty attitude or a bite of road rage. I unbuckle my anti-depressant out of his car seat and I hug him. It never fails, and I know I’ll never run out.
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