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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Single

July 13, 2017

I was at a family event recently and my four-year-old nephew was asking my mom about her wedding ring. Then he started asking everyone about their wedding ring. My brother said he had lost his. Other people showed theirs. Then he asked me. “Where’s your wedding ring?” I said I didn’t have one. “But who is your husband? Is it [name of my ex]?” No one really knew what to say. First of all, I didn’t realize he remembered my ex, because it’s been over a year But I just felt so sad. Even the four-year-old is noticing that there’s something different about me. Even he is noticing that i’m the one missing something, lacking.


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.


Some Days You Just Survive

May 7, 2017

Today is one of those. Depression and sleep deprivation from changing my medications and not being used to them and not knowing if it’s the right combination. And grief. Still with the grief from the loss of my relationship, now over a year ago.

There were so many things I wanted to do today. I just can’t. I’m going to bed. But I did survive.


Letter to My Ex

May 4, 2017

The letter I can’t actually send:

It’s been over a year and I still don’t understand. In fact, not only do I not understand, but nobody I know does. My friends are still confused. “But he loved you.” “But he was the one who wanted to date you, before you were interested.” “But you were so good together.” In fact, even the few of YOUR friends I’ve talked to don’t understand. You might be the only one who does, but I’m not sure you know either.

What was actually wrong? You never did say. “I need more freedom” when I was giving you freedom but you rarely went to see your old friends you talked about missing didn’t make sense. The weekend you broke up with me, our counselor said she was amazed at our progress and was so happy with where we were. Was it all an act for her?

You said it wasn’t fear. Then what was it? The same counselor — the one who you said you trusted implicitly — she said if you left it would be because you were afraid. She said that it was going to me more frightening for you to stay but it would be better for you because you can only do growing about relationship in a relationship. She urged you to work through the fear because (although she didn’t like to tell people what to do in a relationship), she thought we were better together.

You were the one who pursued me. I was unsure and you stuck with it and were patient with me. You fell in love with me first and you waited until I loved you back. You were the one who started talking about a future and travel and these things that terrified me, but I came around and I learned to love you deeply. What was all that for? Why did I go through this process.

I haven’t seen you in over a year and I still miss you so much that it hurts. Our vacation photos look like paradise. I remember your conversations with my family and how excited they were that you were a quality person who loved me.

I just wish I understood.