Thursday, July 17, 2014

Marching Ants

They found the parrot's cage first.

The thin black line spread across the floor from the back door, to the cage, and around it. It was a veritable feast for ants: all sorts of crumbs and bitments that fall from Dusty's messy meals litter our floor even in the best of times.

Being a scavenger/nut-eater, her preferred method of supping involves dropping the proffered food item on the floor of her cage "to crack open the shell." I put that in quotations because everything from blackberries to goldfish crackers get this treatment. Instinct tells her to, so she does. (Sometimes she'll even dip it in her water to soften it up.)

Consequently, there are all sorts of orts that remain there: items she forgot to retrieve, or items she didn't like and left there to be scattered to the four winds next time she decides scratching the bottom of her cage is a good idea. Quite a number of these crumbs make their way outside her cage--often in leaps and bounds, quite literally--and go careening off along the floor.

I think she enjoys making a mess.

Now the ants are enjoying her mess too. Their little trail, insidious and hungry, gives proof of that. Thank God, I thought; it's only her food, and not ours. I can more easily clean her food spills than empty and relocate our entire pantry. And if the bird ingests a few ants, no harm done. It probably happens plenty in the wild. Mm, protein.

So we cleaned the floor and her cage, moved her across the room, and set out ant traps. The trail thinned. A few managed to hang on to the cage for the ride across the living room, so we set another trap underneath. Soon, all had gone to ground in one way or another.


I opened the refrigerator the other day and you'll never guess what I saw: an ant running feverishly along a shelf, his little legs pumping as if it were the only thing keeping him from freezing to death (which it might have been). Squish.

I found another on the island and two by the sink. I set ant traps in the kitchen. But I kept finding ants.

Since the ants had moved on from Dusty's scraps, her cage returned to its spot by the back door. Fortunately or unfortunately, the ants returned in full force and there's a line again from the door to her. I say "fortunately" because they're leaving the kitchen alone now that they have their old food source back.

Nic and I looked at each other and shrugged. "We're moving in a few weeks anyway."

Some things you just can't get rid of. Ants and parrot-messes are at the top of the list. Humidity. Traffic. Bad customer service. You expect them, and so they're not that unsettling.

Other things hit you like a drunk driver crashing through the wall of your living room. (That really happened.) After the initial moments of shock, you stand up and yell, "Hey!" And call the cops, or some other applicable behavior.

I'm tempted to treat depression like a trail of ants. To let it sneak in until it establishes residence; then to shuffle a few things around in my life and say, "I've done my best." Or to think that "these things happen," and not try to fight it.

But while depression strikes with the lazy slowness of a trail of ants, it's has the impact of a drunk driver. It crashes in and rearranges your life, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you approach life. It needs more than a few ant traps in response.

Take ownership of your depression. When you realize that the depression is the reason you don't feel like working or don't hang out with anyone, you can rejoice in the fact that this means there are ways to make it better. If you simply hate your work, I'm sorry for you; but if you struggle with depression, there are solutions.

One of the biggest problems of depression is that it makes us not want to admit we're depressed. Depression puts you in a mental state of denial.

You don't have to let that happen. Find someone who won't judge you and ask them to support you in seeking help. Rarely do we find our way out of depression on our own, and only after long years of suffering. It doesn't have to be that way. You need someone to help you stay motivated in seeking the way out.

Don't let that line of ants keep trailing in.

Check out the Twitter hashtag #yesistruggle for more.

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