A Christmas Miracle

January 3, 2020

I had a wonderful Christmas and it was a minor miracle.

 

I was alone and not lonely. In fact, most of the week I’ve been alone, and I haven’t been lonely once.

I’ve had tons of unscheduled time and I didn’t get depressed.

I’ve enjoyed time by myself.

This is all pretty new for me, but better late than never. I’m super grateful.


Depression as Time Waster

November 7, 2019

I’m still struggling this week. I’m not crying in bed wishing I wasn’t alive, so that’s something. But I’m feeling really flat, uninterested in things I usually enjoy, wanting to sleep all the time… you know. All those fun things.

If I had the energy to be angry, I would be furious that this disease is wasting so much of my time. For the last week, I’ve been sleeping far too much. I remember a time when I wanted to do things like go on hikes, read the books on my shelf, write, and more. But they don’t sound good at all now. Neither does yoga, going out to lunch, or, really, anything else. And that sucks.

I know that it’ll pass. I know that I’ll feel good again and I’ll want to do all these things. But *right now* I have the time and I just can’t. It’s like getting pneumonia during Christmas vacation. What a waste.

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Trying to Stay Ahead

November 6, 2019

I’ve got a little touch of depression now. I think there are a bunch of reasons: the time change, too much free time with a lull in work, not having enough social interaction, not seeing my nieces and nephew as often as I’d like, and who knows what else. It’s not unexpected — the time change alone always gets me — but it’s always extremely unwanted. And very discouraging.

I haven’t totally succumbed. I haven’t been crying all the time, and I’ve only been staying in bed a little more than I should, not all the time. Nobody has noticed anything. I haven’t had a full breakdown. I’m able to keep up an appearance, but I’m not feeling good.

When I was in college and I was really depressed, I would sit and write in my journal all the time. Frantically writing, like if I wrote fast enough, I could outrun, or outwrite, the feelings. I would write during movies and class, and anywhere I could. I don’t think it even mattered what I was writing, as long as I wrote quickly enough so that the feelings couldn’t catch up with me.

It’s not journaling anymore, although it is blogging sometimes, but I have other ways I’ve been trying to outrun the feelings. This week it’s been reading, sleeping, watching TV, baking cookies, and wishing for work. It’s not working. I’m not in crisis – and I don’t think I will be any time soon – but I’m really sad and I can’t seem to stop it.

It’s so frustrating when this happens just because of the stupid brain chemicals. Everything’s fine. I normally love living alone. I have enough money. I have friends, even if they’re busy, and I usually really like having time alone. When I’m working a lot, I want free time. But my brain is wrong. It hasn’t caught up with things being fine, even though things have been fine for a long time.

If something terrible happened, I have so many people who would be there for me, and I’m incredibly lucky. But nothing terrible has happened. And I can’t ask for help because I’m sad because of God-knows-what in the same way that I could ask for help if someone died or I had another major loss.

So now I’m going to go to sleep. I’m not that tired yet but I don’t know what else to do. One of these days, I’ll be back to feeling better, but today is not that day.

 


Too Much Free Time

November 2, 2019

I’ve been going kind of non-stop. I’m a freelancer and I’ve been doing lots and lots of work, tutoring plenty of kids, and just generally been busy.

Today it just came to a screeching stop. And I feel so lonely.

Nothing huge happened. I had one tutoring student cancel because of illness and I don’t have many on Fridays anyway. I’ve been doing a lot of copy editing for two clients in particular and one is taking a break to focus on her paid work and one is reviewing the last work I did and will give me more when he’s done. All my friends are busy, which seems to be the norm, especially because I’m the abnormal one, being single and no kids.

So I just have this free time. There was NOTHING on my calendar starting at 5 pm today and absolutely nothing tomorrow. Not. One. Thing.

Sometimes this sounds amazing. Sometimes I’m super tired and I just need a break. But I learn very quickly when that happens that I get lonely and bored and that leads really quickly to depression.

So tonight, I cleaned my apartment, but it was already pretty clean. I listed to some podcasts and am tired of podcasts. I read a book and am tired of reading. I watched some TV and movies and I’m tired of that.

And I can’t stop thinking that tomorrow, I have NOTHING to do. I think I’m going to take the dog hiking but if this depression keeps building and I just stay in bed all day… no one will stop me because I have not one commitment. So it could be wonderful and beautiful and rejuvenating but it could also be depressing and lonely and just go on forever.

It’s hard to believe that yesterday I was loving the fact that I live alone. I told a friend how much I loved it.

Today I just want to be partnered or have a friend over (I’ve tried) or have work to bury myself in. I just don’t want to be stuck here with myself.


Abraham Lincoln

September 28, 2019

I’ve been incredibly busy lately and haven’t had time to write, but I read this article and thought it was fascinating.

I am amazed that Lincoln accomplished so much with depression that was so severe that his housemate had to hide the shaving razors from him.

I also wonder what his life–and history–would be like if Lincoln had had modern medicine and effective anti-depressants.

“No element of Mr. Lincoln’s character,” declared his colleague Henry Whitney, “was so marked, obvious and ingrained as his mysterious and profound melancholy.” His law partner William Herndon said, “His melancholy dripped from him as he walked.”

I have sometimes felt that way. Anyone else?lincoln-thanksgiving-proclamation


Remembering Pain

August 15, 2019

For about a week, I had intense back pain. I was fortunate that it wasn’t anything serious, but just a muscle spasm that kept on hurting. It took over my life — too painful to drive or to sit straight up, which cut down on my activities and my work. I couldn’t think straight because of the pain, and I was living with a careful schedule of pain pills and muscle relaxants. When I was in the middle of the pain, I promised myself I would be eternally grateful if it would just go away.

Thankfully, it went away and I’m fine. I am having trouble with the gratitude though. I can’t seem to remember what the pain felt like! I have a vague idea that it was awful and that I’m much better and happier now, but I can’t really compare.

I think that emotional pain is similar. When I was in the deepest throes of my depression (I don’t usually use the word “throes” but I looked it up and it means “intense or violent pain and struggle” and that felt accurate), I thought that if I could just move past this, get better, or be healed, I would be grateful forever.

Well, I’m doing better. And I have been for some time. But I’m not feeling incredibly grateful all the time. I’m just feeling… kind of normal. And sometimes frustrated that I have a touch of depression. Sometimes happy, sometimes lonely, sometimes fulfilled, and sometimes wondering what the point of life is.

I think part of it is that I can’t really remember the pain. I think that’s good and bad. I am certainly less grateful than I would be otherwise. But it’s probably a blessing that I can’t remember, because I think it was probably unsustainable.

I remember when my dog had (very expensive) knee surgery. For three nights, it was horrible. She was crying non-stop, even with the pain medication. I slept on the floor next to her one of these nights because it was so terrible. But then, on the fourth morning, she hopped up and was fine. So fine that I had to restrain and eventually sedate her so she wouldn’t hurt herself. But she didn’t seem to remember the pain at all. Nothing remained of the pathetic dog-patient; she was totally happy again.

Maybe that’s what this is. Maybe it’s a gift. And I’ll try to be grateful.


Sometimes Depression Looks Like This

July 30, 2019

Things have been going really well.

I was interviewed about a book I wrote and it went really well, aired, and got a great reception.

I am getting a good amount of work (self-employed) and it’s going really well, monetarily and in rewarding relationships with the students.

I’ve had time to read and relax and take long walks.

I went on a fantastic vacation in June.

Everything’s good. And still this slight cloud of depression is hanging around. Not big. I’m not crying, I don’t want to die, and my work isn’t suffering. No one would ever know anything was wrong.

And it’s not really wrong. There are a few things — I haven’t been able to see my nieces and nephew much this summer and I miss them. My dog is aging, although she’s pretty healthy. But really, not much! It’s a good life, and it’s a really easy life compared to many.

But the melancholy is here. I can ignore it, I can push it away, and I can forget it for a while. It’s frustrating and infuriating. I don’t want a respite; I want a cure. But this may just be a part of the human condition. There may not be a cure.


Summer

July 18, 2019

Summer is a weird time for me. When I was a teenager and worked at camp, summer was what I looked forward to all year; able to rekindle friendships in the kind of setting you don’t get anywhere else. Camp was magic.

When I stopped working at camp, things changed. Part of it was just becoming more adult, and part was the letdown from the magic that was camp to working a “real” job. But even before that, there was a major letdown when camp ended and college hadn’t started up again.

When I started teaching, everything changed.

Teaching is a very intense profession; you’re constantly moving, thinking, feeling, and doing. By summer time, teachers are exhausted, bone-tired. From about January or February, teachers count the days until the summer. We live with the hope that things will change and we will be able to rest.

And then summer comes along. Every summer, I had the same pattern. For a few days to a week, it was bliss not waking up early and not having to go somewhere. Then it hit, every summer.

I hear the same thing happens with retired people. It sounds great and then… depression. A lack of purpose. No set schedule.

I don’t know how I was never prepared for it when it happened every year. Every year I’d be so optimistic that I’d relax and enjoy the summer and have adventures and every year I’d end up crying in my bed, not having to get up to do anything so not getting up and doing anything.

I tried to prevent it. I borrowed dozens of books from friends. One year I borrowed boxes of DVDs from various friends. I planned trips. The trips were great! Every other day wasn’t.

I felt so angry at myself during the summer: who gets depressed about having days off? But each day brought me closer to going back to the regular year and felt like one more missed opportunity. After June 27 the days get shorter. They’re not short – it’s 8:30 pm today, July 17, and it’s still light outside. But they’re shorter than they were, and I can feel summer — and all of my hopes for it — slipping away.

Ironically, summer is my favorite season for many reasons. I love warm weather and long days, and I love warm evenings, although we don’t get them that often here. But somehow, summer being my favorite season makes me more melancholy, because every day means one day less of summer.

Currently I’m not teaching in a classroom. I still work in the summer, but the schedule changes and I have much more free time. No one else seems to though, so I start to get the same feelings. I feel sorry for myself because I have free time but no one to spend it with. I feel resentful that people don’t have time for me. I feel like I’m letting my favorite season slip away because I’m not enjoying it more. I feel sad. Just sad. For no real reason.

And I have a sense of dread because fall comes with a whole different set of triggers. Which makes me more angry about summer feeling so sad.

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Sadness Around the Edge of My Brain

June 25, 2019

My life is good. I have two nieces and a nephew who I love more than life itself. I just traveled for two weeks and learned to scuba dive. I have a career that I love and is incredibly fulfilling. I have free time to read and knit and live in a beautiful area.

But there’s sadness around the edge of my brain.

You know when you have a floater in your eye, but you can’t see it directly, just around the edge of your vision?

Nothing lasts. I love my dog very much but she’s aging and one day I’ll have to deal with her loss. I love every minute with my nieces and nephew but they’re not my kids and I have to work around other people’s schedules and have little control over when I get to see them. I am happily single and love living and traveling alone but have strong pangs of loneliness when I see people who are in wonderful partnerships or watch certain movies or TV shows.

The sadness is nebulous and not life-threatening (yes, I believe sadness can be life-threatening), but it is there.

Just around the edges, but it’s there.


Down Time

May 20, 2019

Does anyone else have a serious problem appreciating down time? Or an inability to relax?

I’m great at it on vacation. I can lie in the sun (or actually in the shade near the sun), read, knit, float in warm water, linger over meals, and relax to my heart’s content. But at home, it’s very different.

Because of the work I do (school-year focused) and the fact that I’m self-employed, I generally have a lot more down time in the summer. And let me tell you, I am really bad at enjoying down time. (Aside from sleeping. I’m great at sleeping, but one should only do that so much).

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Instead of thinking, “Oh, I have a few free hours before I have to work again! I could go for a walk or read a book or have some tea!” I go straight to, “I can’t believe I’m losing money by not working in those hours. I’m just wasting time.”

Why does down time equate to wasting time in my mind?

I live in a beautiful place. Some of things I could do when I don’t have clients include:

-eating out at many many delicious restaurants nearby (many of which are inexpensive)

-having an nice cup of tea

-hiking

-walking the dog

-knitting or reading on the beach

-doing yoga

-writing

And yet what I find myself doing is just sitting around wasting time on the computer or napping excessively or just bemoaning the fact that I’m not making money right now.

How are you with down time? Any ideas? Does it trigger anyone’s depression or anxiety?