Here We Go With the Darkness

November 5, 2017

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The time change is tomorrow and, while many people are happy about it because they don’t have to get up for work in darkness, I am… not. that’s a bit of an understatement. Darkness affects me very, very strongly and always has.

Although I’ve been depressed in every type of weather and light, warm and sunny is best for me, as for many people who suffer from this. Dark is hard. Cold is hard. Obviously the two often go together and I tend to lose hope.

I know people who like the fall and winter. “Enjoy sweater weather!” they tell me. “It makes me want to die,” I don’t respond. Because people really start to worry when you tell them that out loud.

Some years are better than others, and this is a better one. I’m struggling hard with being single but I’m expanding my friends and community and that is really joyful. But it’s work. I have to actively be aware of all this.

It’s just that for far too much of my life, the dark cold night (and of course, I live in California so I’m a wimp) feels like a manifestation of what’s going on inside me.

We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

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Well, This is Just Ridiculous

October 31, 2017

5BF5F0AE-BAF5-40D3-9C51-5D0809968CFEI’m feeling super sad and lonely today and I caught myself being really upset that I’m going to be alone on Halloween (tomorrow). Halloween is not a holiday I have EVER cared about and it’s not a holiday that feels like a real holiday to me. It’s just a Tuesday when I have less work than usual.

But the sadness and loneliness is real. I don’t want to be alone; I’m sad about being alone. I have a bunch of invitations to parties but I don’t want to go to a party. I want to be with someone and pass out candy like we’re partners, or a little family.

This feels ridiculous. I really never have cared about Halloween, never. I’m just sad. And it’s cold and dark and people are celebrating and I feel alone.


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.


Autumn

October 3, 2017

I’ve always had a hard time with autumn. I’ve described it here before.

It’s starting to be fall here – it’s still warm in the daytime most days but it’s chilly at night, dark is falling earlier, and there’s that fall smell. That smell I don’t even really know how to describe but that brings dread. Maybe only to me – plenty of people seem to love the crisp fall smell.

It’s not as bad this year. I hope that continues to be true. I feel like I have to be vigilant or it will sneak up on me.A7091F9B-0521-4173-B02A-A364E83FEA29


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.


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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