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.


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.


Eating Alone

January 30, 2019

I was at a wedding a few years back where the entire sermon was about how the couple doesn’t have to eat alone anymore. The pastor started by saying how much he HATES eating alone. He expounded on that for a while. Apparently he really hates it — whether at home or in a restaurant. After about 5 solid minutes of his hatred of eating alone, he announced, “This couple no longer has to eat alone!”

Well, that part was funny because the couple’s work schedule made it impossible for them to eat dinner together any day except Sundays. But that irony aside, another single friend turned to me and said, “I have NEVER had a pastor make me feel so bad about being single. Sigh.

I actually enjoy eating out alone. Me, a good book, and good food. It’s pretty great. But I want to do it because I WANT to and not because I don’t have a choice. I went to a nice fondue restaurant recently with a friend and realized that I really missed that also. I don’t have a partner to go on “date nights” with and I miss out on things I enjoy because I don’t want to do it alone.

And when I do things by myself,  I start wondering what other people think. I shouldn’t! Why should it make one bit of difference what they think?? But I do.

How do you enjoy activities alone and not feel like you’re missing out?

 

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Hot Baths

September 17, 2018

When I was really depressed, people would often tell me to “just take a hot bath.” As if that would make me want to live? As if that would take away the darkness crawling up inside me and threatening to swallow me up whole.  The suggestion was right up there for me with “try to be grateful” and “just snap out of it.” A hot bath may feel good, but when you are severely depressed, it just isn’t going to do anything.

Lately though, I’ve noticed that I’ve been taking hot baths when I’m lonely. I’m not sure what’s going on. I like living alone but it’s still hard to be single (I know it’s hard to be married/partnered also, but in a different way). I am still missing my ex, even though we broke up almost 2 1/2 years ago. Wow, that’s a long time.

As I’ve talked about before, boredom, loneliness, and depression all get mixed up for me. So when I feel myself getting bored or lonely, I worry. Lately what I’ve been doing is taking a very hot bath in the evening when I’m either bored or lonely. I think California is technically out of the drought, but as a life-long Californian, I still feel guilty about the water use, since I’ve been doing this most nights.

However, as a form of self-medication, it’s pretty healthy.

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Loneliness

October 8, 2017

I read this recently: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201708/loneliness-poses-greater-public-health-threat-obesity

It seems particularly relevant today as I’m sitting alone on a Saturday night watching a movie and planning on going out to dinner alone. Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually enjoy going out to eat alone. It seems like a luxury, both in time and money. But I still feel bad for myself when it’s a Friday or Saturday night and I’m alone, strangely, even when it’s by choice.

I am really fortunate in that I have a great community. I have a lot of people who love me and who would be there for me in an emergency. But most of them have families and all are busy so, while there’s no doubt they’d come in an emergency, it’s much less likely they’re be there in a non-emergency. And that part is important too. Really important.

I’m not sure what to do about that, and I’m not sure if married people also have this issue. It might even be harder if you’re married, because being lonely while having people around is really tough.

But I only know this from my own end. And I’ll tell you, being single in a world of families is tough. And that I’m going to go eat dinner alone this Saturday night and try to make the best of it.