by Kori Frazier Morgan
Last winter pierced me like a cold steel blade. It wasn’t only the external—the whiplash of northern Ohio wind, the shortened, early-dark days, the snow-laden sky so thick and gray that it’s hard to imagine the sun. It was the internal, how its chilled fingers reached deep inside me, running over the curves of my brain and distorting the things inside it that are broken.
I felt the heaviness every day upon waking. Outside, the naked branches smacked each other with an icy crackle, and simply moving my body seemed to take all the strength I had. Downstairs, I made coffee, relying on its rich scent to bring myself to life. I read my Bible; I opened up my prayer journal and asked the Lord, as I did every day, to bring me relief from this darkness, to restore my energy and sense of hope.
People think depression is just about feeling sad, but it runs deeper than that. My body ached everywhere with a sense of soreness I couldn’t pinpoint. I did the best I could to drag myself through my day—client calls, writing, reading, obligations to others—but it never felt like enough. I felt imprisoned doubly—not just inside winter, but inside my own body, my own expectations of what I believed I should be able to do. At the end of the day, I desired only sleep, to be separated from the world for a while, to allow myself to rest, until the sky lightened through the clouds and it all began again.
I yearned for sun, the wet smell of spring, the sturdiness of pavement beneath the wheels of my bicycle, and the rush of leaves on my favorite trail. I continued to pray. For the clouds to part, just for a moment. For my medication adjustment to even out the weight inside my head. For relief to come.
It didn’t come, not wholly. But there was grace.
The medication change worked. I listened to vinyl records, their gentle music filling me with something warm and lively. I met up with friends at a writing conference out of state and felt the joy of true, creative fellowship. I discovered chai tea with honey and a dash of almond milk to go with a Zoom class about Narnia and the Dawn Treader’s own tempestuous, endless voyage.
And then, one day in March, the clouds parted. I stepped outside to feel a warm breeze, a familiar trace of sun. I aired up my bike tires, filled my water bottles, put my earbuds in, and carried my bike outside.
On the road, the wind was at my back. I headed onto a country back road that would lead me to the trail, where the branches were still bare, but hints of buds emerged, signs of things waking up. I dug into the pedals and felt my legs tighten and release with each stroke, my speed building, the warmth of the sun against the sleeves of my riding jersey, the wheels bounding over the rise and fall of the pavement.
After a long winter, of fighting the burdens of illness, of a body feeling frozen, nothing ever makes me feel so healed, so free.