Two weeks ago, I woke up early to take a piss. While I’m doing that, I look over at the bathroom tub and the shape that it’s in—epoxy constantly chipping off and my landlord half-assing repairs—and it just pisses me off. It didn’t yesterday, but today, God almighty it feels like war. At six in the morning, I put on whatever clothes I could cobble together off the floor and headed to Home Depot. I get there early and because I have the time and none of the know-how, I google “DIY tub repair.”
By the time the wife and kids wake up, I’ve completely stripped the tub of epoxy. I’ve got a wet-dry vacuum, a drill with a sanding attachment, an orbital sander and chemical stripper in the bathroom. The wife asks, “What the hell are you doing?” And I say, through my P100 toxic air respirator, “fuck this tub.” Now, I can understand her concern. After all, we rent this apartment and I shouldn’t actually be doing any of this. Also, we only have the one bathroom and this is a multi-day project. But I’m thinking she doesn’t get it because she didn’t see this thing at six in the morning. So I say, “Look, we’re committed. The only way out is forward.” We both know it’s my ass if I’m wrong.
The next day, I get started on removing the cup molding that surrounds the tub, the loose vinyl and linoleum, and the caulk that seals everything together. I’m thinking there’s an easier way to get this done than with my hands and a tiny wall scraper, so I go to Home Depot. Now, there are a ton of sub $20 tools that would have worked, but I come out with a Dremel Multi-Max MM45. It can tackle just about any home repair job. But again, we live in apartment. Anyhow, I’m keeping it and I justify the expense by using it on everything.
Now, to the point. There comes a time where I catch myself doing whatever I’m doing—typically while in the middle of a big project—and a question sneaks up on me: Fuck, am I manic? So you go through the checklist. Sleep? Shit, I’ve been waking up early. Increase in goal-directed behavior? Shit, I’m doing a bathroom restoration. Overspending? Damn that Dremel. Impaired concentration? Crap, how can I tell if I don’t remember. Irritability? Again, fuck this tub. Inflated self-esteem? Nah, I got this shit.
Jokes aside, it’s necessary to question anything out of the ordinary, whether it’s inspiration or conviction or happiness. And that sucks, because as mindful as you want to be, as present as you want to be, someone with bipolar disorder has to check their emotions against manic or depressive symptoms. Here, I had to put the tools down and really ask myself what I was doing. And after a bit of thinking, I decided it wasn’t mania. It was depression.
I looked at that tub and I just hated myself for it. I’ll share something with whomever is reading. My kids wanted to play in a bathtub, but because ours was so screwed, we bought a $7 heavy duty storage container and filled it with water and bubbles. When we took showers, the space was so cramped because we kept it in the tub. And that’s a really shitty feeling for a dad, and on the morning that I started to fix everything, I decided that at least this part of my life wasn’t going to make me feel crappy about myself.
It took one week. Two days to strip and sand, one for a chemical wash, three for the new epoxy to dry, and another for caulking and laying adhesive for the linoleum and vinyl. Yesterday I installed the new drain and handheld shower head. And for some added safety and something cool for the kids, I placed cartoon clownfish grip appliques on the bottom. Like a whole school of them. During the week, we had to shower outside. But you know, that’s kind of how my family rolls. We make good stories out of hard times. And I’m very lucky to have a wife that see’s life that way, because I’d be screwed without her.
The depression is still there. It’s hard to knock. But yesterday and today and probably tomorrow, it goes away for a bit when I see my kids laughing in their new tub. Nothing beats that.
Photo credit to Anuar Patjane Floriuk