A Reprieve

September 19, 2017

Something has shifted lately. I don’t know if it’s meds, therapy, prayer, or what, but I’ve been feeling… content. Maybe even joyful sometimes. And much less sorry for myself.

I went to a family event over the weekend. When I spend time with my family, I go way into self-pity mode. I’m the only adult there who’s not married, who doesn’t own a home, who doesn’t have children. Mostly, I’m just the only one alone.

But something about this time was different. I got to spend time with my nephew and nieces who I love very very much. My youngest niece just warmed up to me (she’s two and VERY picky about who she spends time with) so I got to read her books and have her sit on my lap and play games with her. My nephew and I have always had a really strong bond and even though he managed to spill a whole jar of syrup all over my lap, we still had fun.

Things feel good. The tough part is that depression waits. You don’t get cured, you get reprieves. One of the triggers that has been most consistent for me is the season change from summer to fall. So here we are on September 18, and I feel like it’s tapping me on the shoulder. I don’t want it, I don’t want anything to do with it, but there’s a reminder.

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I Don’t Have the Words Today

August 3, 2017

Last night, I got an email from my ex-boyfriend. When we broke up, his father was sliding into dementia and I asked him to keep me updated on his dad’s health if there were any major changes. He also had some elderly women in his church that I had gotten to know pretty well and so we agreed to give health updates to each other on important people.

So when I got an email with the subject line “Sad News,” I thought that his dad had probably taken a turn for the worse and that was sad but you now, his dad had lived a good life and was elderly, and this happens. But it wasn’t his dad.

It was his 13-year-old goddaughter, who had been killed by a car. Maggie was crossing the street on her way home from a dance class, in the crosswalk, with the light. She was hit by a car and died on the way to the hospital. She was almost 14.

Although I haven’t seen Maggie or her family (or my ex) in over a year, I am devastated. Her parents were my ex’s best friends, more like family to him than his family. he had been friends with Maggie’s dad since they were in 7th grade and with Maggie’s mom since their freshman year of college. He had been on family vacations with the three of them, had 13 years of photos and artwork and notes from Maggie, who referred to him as her uncle. We went for dinner there every month and he went more often. Every vacation we took together, we got a gift for Maggie.

One year we took a vacation to Veracruz, Mexico. We got Maggie a hammock, not realizing that they didn’t have trees to hang it from. My ex and Maggie’s dad stood in the living room, trying to hold up the ends of the hammock and lift her off the ground while she laughed hysterically. I had my ex buy her flowers for a dance recital a few years ago. He said it was boring and that he didn’t want to go. I said he was her godfather and basically her uncle and he had to. He said it didn’t matter because she would just take the flowers, say thanks, and go back with her friends. I said that is totally age-appropriate and one day she would remember how he came every year with flowers and how special that was. Only she never made it that long.

She was an only child. She was very close to her parents and good with adults and their lives revolved around her, but not in a bad way. I don’t know how they are even still breathing.

I won’t get to say good-bye. Unless he invites me to the memorial, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to go and even if he did, I’m not sure. I’d have to bring someone with me and that’s a weird ask, “Will you go to the funeral of a child you don’t know so I don’t have to be alone?” My mind is not letting me believe this really happened. I wrote her parents a condolence card and in the back of my head keep thinking that they’re going to be so annoyed because clearly their daughter is fine. I’m exhausted from trying to make myself believe it’s real, and I feel guilty that I’m this sad when it’s not about me, I’m not her family. But I was close to it for a while.

Obviously, being depressive doesn’t help any of this. Everything feels so much stronger and sadder than it would, I’m sure. And all my grief about the break-up is coming back. I don’t want him to have to go through this alone, but he chose that.

So I guess I did have words. But I still don’t, because nothing I’ve said has made one bit of difference. It’s too much.


Worry, Worry, Worry

July 24, 2017

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this here, but fairly recently, a friend of mine, who is an atheist/agnostic, depending on the day, called me out on something. She said, “Listen. You believe in this God who takes care of you. You believe in a God who created you and loved you. That should make a difference in your life.” She went on to explain that this was something she (and a to of people) didn’t have. She doesn’t believe there’s any higher power or anything past humans, and she thinks that if I believe that, my life should reflect it. I should have more hope than people without this.

She explained it better, but you get the idea. If I believe in a loving God, who I can even TALK to, why doesn’t this make a difference?

I need it to make a difference. Either I believe this or I don’t. If I do, then I should, well, not give up worry entirely, because I’m human, but I should have a basic confidence that God is with me. Who can be against me? What can “man” do to me? I shouldn’t be afraid of housing prices or illness or anything else, but have a “peace that transcends all understanding.”

I know that a lot of people who read this are not necessarily people of faith, but many of you are. Do you have any ways to remember this, really deep down? As someone very very prone to anxiety and depression, this is essential for me to not go down.


Honesty

July 23, 2017

So, yesterday something, don’t know what, prompted me to share the blog. I made a facebook list of people who were safe, mostly because they weren’t related to me and I didn’t work for or with them, and put it up. I don’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I got a lot of empathy and a lot of relating. People I don’t know well commented that they totally understood. And for some reason, it helped.

I probably won’t keep it up – I don’t really want my name associated with this, and if you read back, you may understand why. But sharing it did two things: it made me feel much less alone and, in reading back to some of my early posts, it made me realize how incredibly far I’ve come and how much healing has taken place. I’m grateful for that. I hope it helped someone else too.


Trying to Not Slide Down

July 22, 2017

There are a few signs of impending depression for me. Some of them are strangely dramatic: I start seeing things with less color when I’m depressed. Literally. Things start looking much more gray and I have trouble focusing my eyes. Objects look strange: is that a post office box or a garbage can? My brain slows down and I feel thick and slow.

There’s the more obvious symptoms: sadness of course, and the loneliness. The crying for no apparent reason, not being able to stop crying, not being able to get out of bed, and fatigue.

But then I have my own little special brand of crazy melancholy. One of the symptoms for me is that I start over-identifying with characters in books. Way, way over-identifying. If a dog dies in a story, I break down sobbing and can’t get back from it. If a character is a little pathetic – heartbroken or depressed or bullied, it haunts me as if I was watching someone I loved break down and can’t do a single thing about it. If a character loses someone or dies in a book, I go over it again and again in my head, willing them to do something differently so things can turn out differently, even though I know that it will turn out the same way, and I know that these people are fiction! It wrecks my head.

That is starting up. I just read a really good murder mystery but the main suspect (who turns out to be innocent) is nervous and a little pathetic and talks about how he would never have killed his girlfriend because he was absolutely in love with her, and it turns out he’s telling the truth. So he’s been through the wringer, lost the only person he’s really loved, been made fun of, and is broken hearted. But more than that, he’s described as sad, forgettable, easily bullied, wispy, etc. And somehow that was gut-wrenching for me. Maybe I’m too empathetic but I felt like my heart was breaking. And he’s not real.

I’ve also started to cancel plans. I was going to go to someone’s house and knit tonight but I was too tired. I was going to see some people in my writers group read their writing last night but I had too much work. And both those things are totally true. But it’s also a pattern I have and it’s hard to know when it’s depression and when it really is these other things.

And I’m feeling sorry for myself for being single. Sometimes I’m fine. I don’t write much when I am because I’m enjoying my life. But in the last couple days it’s back to this deep loneliness. Not having anyone I come first with, not having anyone who checks on me every day. I’ve had that and I miss it so much.

Now that I see the signs, of course, I have to figure out what to do. Do I wait and see if things get worse? Do I tell the doctor that I was feeling better – he was so happy for me – but this is back? Do we try yet more medication? If I am getting depressed again, it’s so much work to deal with it. And I feel like I’m disappointing so many people. Myself, my doctor, my friends who were so happy that I’m feeling better.

So I don’t know. Maybe the book just hit me strangely and I’ll be fine. But maybe not, because I recognize this.


Beauty and Loneliness

July 15, 2017

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It was an extraordinarily beautiful day today. I had little work to do (summer is my lowest time, which is stressful with money but good for mental health if I don’t worry about the money) and a friend called to see if I could have lunch. I had already eaten but asked if she wanted to go to the beach at the edge of town instead.

I forget about this beach. It’s slightly over a mile from my house and is the bay, not the ocean, perfect for kids, because there are no big waves. It’s not exciting: there are no snack shops, no souvenir places, no surfing, no snorkeling. But it is the beginning of the ocean, with sand and all the ocean smells.

I brought some camping chairs and we sat for over two hours, watching kids fly kites and play in the really cold water. I was absolutely covered in greasy sunscreen but it was perfect. The temperature was not too hot but warm enough and I felt so incredibly relaxed and content. I even kept saying, “This is just perfect,” sort of feeling like saying it aloud would keep the feeling.

The friend suggested we go for ice cream after which felt like a perfect little luxury at the end of this.

Then my brain kicked in, with all of its insecurities. I started worrying that I’d never have this experience again and that somehow I “wasted” it by not appreciating it more. I worried that I’d get depressed again when summer leaves because this weather is so wonderful that it’s going to be a huge loss. I worried that I’d never have friends to travel with again, that I’d be alone forever, that nobody would remember me, that tomorrow (I have no concrete plans) will be incredibly lonely, that my dog will die, and all of a sudden, I’m at the bottom again.

By this time I was home. In my ideal world, or what I think would be normal for a lot of people, I would have been glad for a beautiful day relaxing with a friend and savored that. Instead, I’m questioning if anyone would notice if I died or disappeared and convincing myself that I’ll be lonely forever and depressed and cold once summer ends.

I feel like I’ve thrown away the gift of a wonderful day. This is NOT how I want to be. I just don’t know how to change it.

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Happily Boring

May 29, 2017

This long weekend has been boring. Happily boring, which is a new thing for me.

I used to equate boredom with depression. When I was really young, I would say I was bored and mean I was really sad or lonely and didn’t know what to do. It actually took me years to realize that boredom and depression are two different things because boredom was such a trigger for my depression. I just didn’t have the right word for it.

In college, one three-day weekends, many people would go visit their families, of course. I usually stuck around and I was lonely and bored. And really, really, severely depressed. Again, it seemed like the same thing for me. It’s a visceral memory for me – being in the quiet dorms with just the out of state students left for company. I’d walk and walk and read and read and try to outrun the feelings.

So you can see why it felt like a minor miracle that this weekend has been extraordinarily boring and restful and it feels fine. This is what mundane progress looks like.