A perfect May morning with nothing on the schedule but gardening—perhaps, a perfect day.
In the shed I began to gather my tools—the spading fork, the half-moon edger, the adjustable leaf rake, my Hickok loppers, my… That is when I noticed the hose coiled in the corner. I was immediately fearful, it looked like a snake, ready to strike. I shook my head free of the concept, looked again, and it was a snake!
I stood back, took a deep breath and looked again. The rubber hose, with its brass spray nozzle was just that, unmoving, dusty even from the long winter in the shed.
My heart rate up, and admittedly a bit shaken, I continued to pick out my tools. Something niggled below the conscious part of my brain.
I knew that the anti-depression medication I had been prescribed, just three weeks ago, had most likely prompted that vision. One of the side effects was hallucinations. When that is a side effect only, you do not want to know what it is doing to the rest of your brain. But I meekly took it anyway. The depression was otherwise too difficult to deal with, and it made dealing with anything else impossible. Staying in bed through breakfast, lunch and dinner might be a viable diet plan, but not sustainable. Neither is turning off all the lights at seven p.m., so no one knows you are home. Or adjusting your answering machine to pick up on the first ring. Or…..a lot of things.
It had taken some time—and therapy—for me to learn that clinical depression is not sadness: it is just that the word for the condition was badly chosen. It has nothing to do with melancholy or loss. It is a chemical imbalance of a specific area of the amygdala, an otherwise unnoteworthy lobe of the brain. As a chemical problem, it can be corrected with the offsetting chemicals in a precise dosage. Perfect. Scientific. Easy. Except not. Most people prescribed medication for depression have to go through a lengthy adjustment period, as the dosage is adjusted to suit the patient. I was still in that phase.
I had been warned about hallucinations. It’s hard to prepare for one. What is it? When is it? How do I know? But this one I recognized. It is too early in the year for snakes. They do not slither into garden sheds and coil in corners. If anything they would lie quietly behind the bird seed bag, waiting for the inevitable thieving mouse to drop by. No. This was a hallucination.
To prove to myself that I was not afraid of the garden hose, I purposely walked over to that corner of the shed. I needed the dandelion weeding pick that sat with the other small tools, on the second shelf, above and to the right of that corner.
As I reached for the pick, the hose coiled tighter, and the brass nozzle whipped towards my left knee.
Then I remembered: in preparation for seed starting, I had moved all of the hoses to the greenhouse.