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.

 


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.


When Nothing Feels Good Enough

March 8, 2019

I’m trying to remind myself that brain chemistry lies to me. Often it’s depression; currently I think it’s a little depression and mostly anxiety. It feels like nothing — NOTHING — I’m doing is good enough.

I’m a teacher (tutoring now) and I love it and am very good at it. But lately I’ve been feeling distracted and squirrelly (again, probably anxiety) and I don’t think the kids pick up on it but it makes me feel not good enough.

I’m an auntie, and I’m a REALLY DAMN GOOD AUNTIE. But when I don’t see the kids for weeks, I feel like I’m not doing enough. I miss them for sure. I miss them so much it hurts my heart sometimes. But more than that, I feel not good enough.

I’m a writer and I have a book published! But I’m working on two others and they’re going REALLY slowly (partially because I’m so busy and partially because of factors outside of my control) and that feels like a failure. I’m not good enough as a writer.

I am a great friend. I value friendships highly and make time for them. But my schedule is weird enough that it’s hard for me to see them regularly, and I feel like I’m not a good enough friend.

And on, and on, and on. that’s not even including the things that I’m actually really bad at, like exercising and eating well! These are my STRENGTHS and I don’t feel good enough.

It’s exhausting and demoralizing.

 


When Nature Documentaries are Too Sad

February 6, 2019

I can tell when my depression is “acting up” (acting up seems like such a benign term for your own brain telling you it’s better to not be alive, doesn’t it?) because I get sad about everything. Everything.

Today I was watching a documentary about animals in Africa, while I was doing something else. I love animals so perhaps it’s not surprising that I identified a little too much with the animals and what they were going through but it was clear that my depression was affecting my view.

First, I saw that the lion cubs who were born white instead of tan had a better chance of being found and killed by other grown lions, and I had trouble continuing to do what I was supposed to be doing because I was so sad about that.

Then those same white lion cubs took down an injured water buffalo and that just about wrecked me. The water buffalo knew it was coming and was trying to hide in the water so the lions wouldn’t get him, but he was getting weak and hungry and couldn’t fight back when they finally came to get him. He just made these sort of buffalo whimpering noises.

At this point, I could feel the sadness in my body – heavy in my chest. I felt weighed down and had the dread that comes with major grief. I felt like nothing would ever be OK again and like the color was draining from the world around me. I found myself curling up into the fetal position because the sadness was so physical.

Because of a nature documentary.

It’s passed and I feel better right now. I mostly feel silly for getting so worked up about a nature documentary, and the physical sensations are fading. Tomorrow I may not remember how much this affected me. But it did and I need to pay attention.


Terrible, Thanks for Asking

October 2, 2018

What a wonderful name for a podcast. How many of us have wanted to say something like that at some point?

It’s a podcast about the hard things in life. Depression, suicide, death, etc. Check it out. It is both hard to listen to and incredibly validating. For me, it’s wonderful to hear other people’s stories even when they’re hard.

I’d love to year your stories.

Here it is.